Friday, October 25, 2013

Insurance Cancellations Exceed Enrollments
Thou has seen nothing yet.
Cervantes (1647-1616),  Don Quixote
Just when you think you’ve seen everythings, something new and unforeseen appears.   Just when you think ObamaCare is a “train wreck,” coming apart at the seams all at once, you learn it’s merely the tip of a melting iceberg, with its dangers surfacing one at a time.
October’s events are a good example.
·         First, it was the malfunction of   Not to worry, says government.  Excess demand clogged the system. Nineteen million visited the site, and 6200 started the enrollment process.   But how many actually enrolled remains a mystery. The government will not disclose the number until November 15.  What we do know is that people are frustrated, sometimes spending 3 or 4 hours see how ObamaCare applies to them, something bouncing back and forth between the website and a call center, sometimes ending up being faced with a blank  or frozen screen.  Some  460,000 have started enrolling , say the Feds, and 6200 signed on that first fateful day of October 1 and 51,000 in the first week. That’s roughly 0.08% and 0.74%  of the way towards the goal of signed up 7 million over the next 8 months.  It would take 40,000 actually completing the enrollment process to reach the requisite 7 million figure.

·         Next comes the distressing news that insurance policy concelleatins have vastly exceeded enrollment numbers. Why?  Because current health plans on the individual market do meet ObamaCare specifications.    Florida Blue Cross has cancelled 300,000 policies, Kaiser Permanente 160,000,  California Blue Cross 119,000,  Highmark and Independent  Blue in Pennsylania 20% to 45% of existing plans, and New Jersey insurers say their cancellations will involve 800,000 residents.  The this is just the tip of the iceberg.   Bob Laszewski, a respected health insurance analyst, blogs on  Health Policy and Marketplace, that he estimates 16 million individual policies will be cancelled.
What’s going on here?  A couple of things.
Part of it is dashed expectations.   With the new health law,  policy holders ,being currently insured, thought they could hold on to their existing policies, keep their doctors, and experience lower premiums.  Suddenly, they learn that is no longer true.
Part of it is broken Presidential promises.   In his 2009 AMA address, prior to passage of the Affordable Care Act,  President Obama said, in one of his favorite campaign lines, ““No matter what you’ve heard, if you like your doctor or health care plan, you can keep them.period.”  As it turns out, neither promise is true.   Neither was his promise that premiums for families would drop $2500.  Instead premiums have risen on average $2500, and according to Laszewski, two-thirds of policy holders will experience premium increases.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another.  The revolution of rising expectations has turned into a depression of dashed  expectations.  The promised land may still come, but it lies beyond the horizon.
Tweet:  Thus far, the number of insurance cancellations, which may reach 16 million,  far exceeds the number of completed ObamaCare enrollments.

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