Friday, February 5, 2016
ObamaCare Heads Towards the Cliff
Will ObamaCare survive? Can it be sustained? If not, why not, who’s to blame, and what’s next?
Questions swirl around ObamaCare’s future, as UnitedHealth, Aetna, Cigna , and Humana threaten to jump off the health exchange cliff. The reasons are obvious. United has lost $750 million on the exchanges, $425 million in 2015, and Aetna has dropped $100 million. United says it will lose $500 million more in 2016. These health plans are for-profit enterprises, and they cannot sustain these losses for long, stay in business, and satisfy investors and other stakeholders. Add to this the fact that ½ of not-for-profit health exchange co-ops have failed, and the possibility that the GOP may win the Presidency, the House, and the Senate, and the cliff’s edge looms closer and closer.
Who’s to blame? The failure of the young and healthy, aged 19 to 34, to follow the ObamaCare script are taking the hit. Last year, the CBO predicted 20 million would sign up for the exchanges, but only 12.7 million did. The inevitable result was that premiums had to be jacked up for older and sicker patients, or for-profit insurers would have to exit the market.
The Obama administration assumed the young, facing individual mandate penalties and a short sign-up period, would rush to sign up. The administration was wrong. The young knew a bad deal when they saw one, calculated they had more to gain and less to lose by not signing up, and, due to "special enrollment" exemptions , could wait until they were sick to sign on the dotted line.
Who’s the villain ? The for-profit insurers, says Bernie Sanders, the Democrat socialist. If these insurers and the for-profit motive did not exist, this problem of insurance losses would not be there. The solution is Medicare-for-All with elimination of for-profit insurers. Raise taxes on the rich and middle-class, and let the government and all the taxpayers take the loss. Universal coverage is a moral obligation, even if it would cost $15 trillion over the next decade. Apparently, the young and healthy agree with Senator Saunders. Polls indicate 84% agree with him.