It's that time again, America. Starting today, consumers on the individual healthcare market have the incredible opportunity to sign up and pay a fortune for Obamacare plans, whose baseline price tags are shooting up by double digits on average this year. On top of spiking premiums, these lucky folks will have the privilege of shelling out thousands in out-of-pocket costs before the coverage they're paying for even kicks in. And their choices will be more pared-down than ever, in many cases limited to just one insurer "option." Millions upon millions of uninsured Americans will decline to accept Democrats' generous gift, however, because they simply cannot afford to comply with the "Affordable" Care Act. This includes legions of subsidy-eligible people who still recognize that paying the individual mandate tax penalty is the far less exorbitant expense -- knowing full well that should their health take a severely negative turn in the next year, Obamacare will force carriers to welcome them into the fold at artificially low rates in the next open enrollment period. Those with pre-existing conditions who require lots of expensive care and are finally covered are among the winners of this new scheme. Virtually everyone else is losing -- even among the vast majority of Americans who hold employer-based coverage, whose premiums continue to climb higher, in spite of big promises to the contrary. Here are some of the stories and headlines greeting Obamacare's 2016 open enrollment kick-off today. CBS News:
With insurers pulling out of markets, some Obamacare users "really nervous" -- Open enrollment for Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, begins today. Problems with the law mean consumers could face significant rate hikes in some parts of the country. There will also be fewer health plans to choose from. Starting today, the administration will make a major enrollment push -- but that may be a tough sell in states like Tennessee, which has seen premiums spike more than 50 percent...
Rate hikes, new doctors: Obamacare exchanges open to angst -- As open enrollment starts Tuesday on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, consumers in some parts of the country are bracing for huge rate hikes, while many others are preparing to change insurers and likely doctors. The crazy quilt of 2017 changes is creating angst among both supporters of the law and consumers under 65 who don't get their insurance through work. And it comes as enrollment needs a big boost, especially of younger, healthier people to help offset insurers' costs of covering the sicker people who have signed up so far...Decisions by insurers including Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, Humana and Blue Cross Blue Shield to leave many states prompted insurance regulators to allow insurers to refile their rate requests, often more than once. That led eight states to approve rates that were often far higher than those originally proposed by insurers.
The New York Times:
Health Law Tax Penalty? I’ll Take It, Millions Say -- The architects of the Affordable Care Act thought they had a blunt instrument to force people — even young and healthy ones — to buy insurance through the law’s online marketplaces: a tax penalty for those who remain uninsured. It has not worked all that well, and that is at least partly to blame for soaring premiums next year on some of the health law’s insurance exchanges. The full weight of the penalty will not be felt until April, when those who have avoided buying insurance will face penalties of around $700 a person or more. But even then that might not be enough: For the young and healthy who are badly needed to make the exchanges work, it is sometimes cheaper to pay the Internal Revenue Service than an insurance company charging large premiums, with huge deductibles...Some people do sign up, especially those with low incomes who receive the most generous subsidies, Ms. Speidel said. But others, she said, find that they cannot afford insurance, even with subsidies, so “they grudgingly take the penalty.”
The model is broken, which helps explain why total enrollments through the exchanges have fallen far short of projections, and why some analysts expect sign-ups to roughly flatline (or even decline) next year. As millions of Americans face the daunting task of shopping for pricey coverage -- some facing massive hikes, others having been tossed off their existing plans due to cancellations -- they're eyeing worrisome headlines like the ones above, and others like these:
Study: Half of Obamacare enrollees are skipping doctor visits to save $$. The "Affordable" Care Act at work...https://t.co/Z4nD8ZKcBk— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) November 1, 2016
"It's working!" cheers Hillary Clinton. But also, 'it needs to be fixed, and only I can fix it.' No, she can't. She created this whole damn mess in the first place. With the presidential race tightening down the stretch, I'd say that the Trump/Pence ticket could do a lot worse than a news cycle of them running against Obamacare, while Hillaryworld runs against the Director of the FBI. Watch this network news report, featuring the real human pain being inflicted by the law, followed by the counter-spin from Team Obamacare, whose credibility on the issue is well and truly shot:
As voters get set to vote in one week, it's illuminating to recall that Democrats are 100 percent responsible for this unpopular law -- which was built on false promises, and is actively harming many more Americans than it's helping. Happy open enrollment day, friends. I'll leave you with this short explainer video from Paul Ryan's office. Congressional Republicans have proposed a detailed plan to replace Obamacare with something better: