NYT: Why, It Looks Like Obamacare is Causing Massive Rate Hikes

Posted: Jul 06, 2015 11:00 AM

Here is the New York Times' front page on Independence Day, when few Americans were paying close attention to current affairs:

Two stories on "progressive" welfare states collapsing under the crush of reckless, unsustainable profligacy -- and one on Obamacare's double-digit rate increases:

Health insurance companies around the country are seeking rate increases of 20 percent to 40 percent or more, saying their new customers under the Affordable Care Act turned out to be sicker than expected. Federal officials say they are determined to see that the requests are scaled back. Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans — market leaders in many states — are seeking rate increases that average 23 percent in Illinois, 25 percent in North Carolina, 31 percent in Oklahoma, 36 percent in Tennessee and 54 percent in Minnesota, according to documents posted online by the federal government and state insurance commissioners and interviews with insurance executives...Jesse Ellis O’Brien, a health advocate at the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, said: “Rate increases will be bigger in 2016 than they have been for years and years and will have a profound effect on consumers here. Some may start wondering if insurance is affordable or if it’s worth the money.”

"It's working," they insist, as the 'Affordable' Care Act slams Americans with higher costs.  President Obama, who continues to claim that his unpopular law is surpassing his wildest expectations, has nothing but anti-reality tantrums to offer:

President Obama, on a trip to Tennessee this week, said that consumers should put pressure on state insurance regulators to scrutinize the proposed rate increases. If commissioners do their job and actively review rates, he said, “my expectation is that they’ll come in significantly lower than what’s being requested.” The rate requests, from some of the more popular health plans, suggest that insurance markets are still adjusting to shock waves set off by the Affordable Care Act. It is far from certain how many of the rate increases will hold up on review, or how much they might change. But already the proposals, buttressed with reams of actuarial data, are fueling fierce debate about the effectiveness of the health law.

Alas, Obama speeches cannot alter the laws of economics. But wait, the Times notes, there is a way for consumers to mitigate the effects of huge 2016 premium increases: People can go through the headache of dropping their current plans in pursuit of arrangements with less steep hikes -- which, in turn, could threaten access to doctors and care:

A study of 11 cities in different states by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that consumers would see relatively modest increases in premiums if they were willing to switch plans. But if they switch plans, consumers would have no guarantee that they can keep their doctors. And to get low premiums, they sometimes need to accept a more limited choice of doctors and hospitals.

Keep your plan, keep your doctor, etc. Please recall that the president and his allies repeatedly pledged that everybody's rates would drop under Obamacare. Comprehensively, spectacularly false. Why the huge spikes? Simple cause and effect:

In their submissions to federal and state regulators, insurers cite several reasons for big rate increases. These include the needs of consumers, some of whom were previously uninsured; the high cost of specialty drugs; and a policy adopted by the Obama administration in late 2013 that allowed some people to keep insurance that did not meet new federal standards...Insurers with decades of experience and brand-new plans underestimated claims costs...The rate requests are the first to reflect a full year of experience with the new insurance exchanges and federal standards that require insurers to accept all applicants, without charging higher prices because of a person’s illness or disability...In financial statements filed with the government in the last two months, some insurers said that their claims payments totaled not just 80 percent, but more than 100 percent of premiums. And that, they said, is unsustainable.

Behold, a peek at Oregon's approved -- i.e., finalized -- 2016 premium increases:

Costs are jumping drastically because Obamacare's provisions are driving a price spiral, fueled by an older, sicker risk pool. It's almost as if the law's critics were right. About almost everything.