When President Barack Obama touted the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, many anxiously waited for the benefits of the new legislation to kick in. But over time the opposite has occurred. Now comes word that millions of Americans will reportedly see a significant increase in the cost of Obamacare a week before the November presidential elections – which spells bad news for Democrats.
But many in Washington are not surprised and saw the writing on the wall months ago.
“From the very beginning, President Obama said that premiums would go down under Obamacare,” Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) told Patient Daily. “But while that has never been true, ordinary Americans are about to feel the full effects of Obamacare’s impact on health insurance. Then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi said we needed to pass Obamacare to find out what was in it. Well now we know, and it’s not a pretty sight. Congress and the next president must repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered fixes that promote personal freedom and spur job creation, instead of stifling both.”
UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurance company, has had an excellent first quarter except when it came to the Obamacare exchange markets.
Last week, UnitedHealth increased its ACA loss projections for 2016 to an astounding $650 million from $525 million, this after reporting a $475 million loss in 2015. Many believe other large insurers will follow as more and more key players in the health care industry realize that Obama’s health care plan has not unfolded as promised.
UnitedHealth predicted substantial improvement in Obamacare business in 2016. But enrollment this year has declined, making it abundantly clear that the company could not sustain the medical costs of new customers.
UnitedHealth’s ACA losses are so great the insurer decided last month that it would quite most Obamacare exchange markets and only sell government-subsidized individual plans in a handful of states in 2017.
While liberals claim UnitedHealth’s departure from the exchange markets is insignificant because UnitedHealth wasn’t as deeply committed to Obamacare as other insurers like Anthem (with Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in 14 states) and Centene, the country’s largest Medicaid insurer, UnitedHealth’s announcement could quite possibly be the first of many similar announcements by other insurance companies.
UnitedHealth may not have joined the exchange markets when Obamacare rolled out in 2010, but the insurer made a giant splash when it did – expanding quickly to 23 states in 2015 from just 4 in 2014, and further expanding to 34 states in 2016.
In just two short years, UnitedHealth has decided to pull the plug on Obamacare.
Many Americans grew excited over the promise that they could not be turned down by insurers based on their medical history. But what has become painfully obvious over the last few years is that that promise is costing enrollees a lot of money as insurers shift their financial losses onto consumers, prompting many to opt out and seek health care coverage elsewhere.
“The one thing we’ve heard from insurance companies and we’ve seen from insurance companies are the complaints about the unbalanced risk pools,” Jason Pye, director of communications for FreedomWorks, told Patient Daily last month. “You are seeing a lot of older and sicker patients sign up for coverage. They are utilizing their coverage more frequently than they expected, and they are losing money as a result of it.”
Experts also believe the way Obamacare is set up encourages consumers to game the system by waiting until they are in desperate need of medical services to capitalize on special enrollment periods.
According to Oliver Wyman, approximately 1 in 5 people who signed up for Obamacare during these windows, have medical costs amounting to 10 percent more than people who signed up during normal periods, and are 40 percent more likely to drop the plan later. And earlier this year, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association indicated that the medical costs of Obamacare enrollees were 22 percent higher than enrollees on employer-based plans.
While the debate over the political implications of Obamacare continues, what is evident is that voters across the country will have the final say at the polls.