Let's begin this latest installment of our regular, depressing series with a story out of Kentucky, where yet another state-level Obamacare co-op has collapsed:
Kentucky’s nonprofit health insurer set up under ObamaCare is shutting down because of financial problems, the latest in a string of closures for the nonprofit plans around the country. Kentucky Health Cooperative, a nonprofit insurer known as a co-op, explained that it could not stay financially afloat after learning of a low payment from an ObamaCare program called “risk corridors.” That program was intended to protect insurers from heavy losses in the early years of the health law by taking money from better-performing insurers and giving it to worse-performing ones. However, the Obama administration announced on Oct. 1 that the program would pay out far less than requested, because the payments coming in were not enough to match what insurers requested to be paid. Therefore, insurers only will receive 12.6 percent of the $2.87 billion they requested...The Obama administration said when making the risk corridor announcement earlier this month that the low payments could cause “isolated solvency and liquidity challenges” for a small number of insurers. The Kentucky co-op is the fifth to close, following New York’s co-op last month.
Indeed, the Obama administration's bailout-style program shocked many insurers by announcing fractional loss-defraying pay-outs, compared to amounts requested -- a decision driven by funding shortfalls. The Wall Street Journal's editors include the Kentucky debacle in a house editorial that runs though Obamacare's enduring woes. After calling attention to the program's significant attrition rate and lower-than-projected enrollment stats, the piece cites an academic study demonstrating that Obamacare is in many cases hurting the very people it was allegedly crafted to help:
Don’t count on the attrition problem going away given ObamaCare’s high and rising costs, as well as its low quality that is approaching Medicaid levels of coverage. The plans simply don’t offer good value for the money. In a new working paper, Wharton economists Mark Pauly, Adam Leive and Scott Harrington estimate how much better or worse off the non-poor uninsured are under ObamaCare. They measure the cost of the plans, the benefits of consuming pre-paid medical care and out-of-pocket payments without obtaining coverage. They conclude that, “even under the most optimistic assumptions,” half of the formerly uninsured take on both a higher financial burden and lower welfare, and on net “average welfare for the uninsured population would be estimated to decline after the ACA if all members of that population obtained coverage.” In other words, ObamaCare harms the people it is supposed to help. This is not a prescription for a healthy, durable program.
Polling has consistently borne this out, as far more Americans report being directly harmed by the law than helped by it. Supporters of this massively expensive big government experiment can assert success day in and day out. Words and spin cannot alter reality. And as a reminder, the so-called "Affordable" Care Act is nothing of the sort. Obamacare exchange customers are bracing for hefty 2016 premium increases in many states (here's one of the latest updates), on top of already-high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. Even within the employer-based market -- among consumers who haven't yet been stripped of their existing plans, and are therefore (supposedly) unaffected by the law -- the price arrow keeps pointing in the wrong direction:
American workers saw their out-of-pocket medical costs jump again this year, as the average deductible for an employer-provided health plan surged nearly 9% in 2015 to more than $1,000, a major new survey of employers shows. The annual increase, though lower than in previous years', far outpaced wage growth and overall inflation and marked the continuation of a trend that in just a few years has dramatically shifted healthcare costs to workers. Over the past decade, the average deductible that workers must pay for medical care before their insurance kicks in has more than tripled from $303 in 2006 to $1,077 today, according to the report from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust. That is seven times faster than wages have risen in the same period.
Obamacare backers justified the unprecedented and costly government intrusion into the healthcare market by pledging that the new law would bend the "cost curve" down on overall healthcare spending while substantially lowering individual families' health expenses. Well, they promised a lot of things, you'll recall:
I'll leave you with this:
Obama just signed the 10th partial repeal of Obamacare. (Almost like all those repeal votes aren't pointless.) http://t.co/7E5BCkzDwS— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) October 9, 2015