New Liberal Talking Point: Hey, At Least No Counties Will Have Zero Obamacare Insurers in 2018

Posted: Aug 25, 2017 1:30 PM

It has come to this.  As Obamacare collapses under the weight of spiking costs and decreasing options, its proponents are latching on to the thinnest strands of "good news" in order to pretend that critics' narrative about the failing law has been debunked.  After a string of insurers abandoned Obamacare's exchanges across the country, the distinct possibility arose that some US counties would have zero carriers offering plans in 2018.  That particular bullet has been dodged, however, with lone providers filing to fill those potential gaps.  This development has led to a weird, desperate round of football spiking from Obamacare apologists:

Conservatives responded with facts and snark:

Indeed, based on the Bloomberg story's analysis, roughly one-quarter of Obamacare enrollees live in places where they have exactly one "choice" in providers.  Another quarter are limited to just two options.  And if we're tracking trajectories, the situation is deteriorating quite glaringly:

Here's the latest example of this spiraling trend:

Northwell Health, a health insurer in New York, has announced it is dropping out of the Obamacare exchanges due to bankrupting costs, the New York Post reported. The health insurer said it is exiting the exchanges due to Obamacare's risk-adjustment payments and Congress, which hasn't been able to fix it. The company owed $112 million for a risk-insurance pool last year, which was designed to help insurers with costlier and sicker enrollees. The company would owe $100 million on these types of payments next year. "The high payments were bankrupting CareConnect—formed in 2013—and becoming a financial drain on its parent company, Northwell," the article states. "The payments to the risk-adjustment pool accounted for 44 percent of CareConnect's revenue in 2016." The CEO said this path was financially unsustainable and the regulations have made the market unstable. "It has become increasingly clear that continuing the CareConnect health plan is financially unsustainable, given the failure of the federal government and Congress to correct regulatory flaws that have destabilized insurance markets and their refusal to honor promises of additional funding," said Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell.

Note that he does reference the instability surrounding "additional funding," but focuses primarily on "regulatory flaws."  As we've argued, the problem isn't Trump; it is, and always has been, Obamacare itself.  By the way, as for the funding bit, I presume he's referring to the cost-sharing payments whose future is unclear under the Trump administration.  That issue is likely to be resolved at some point, but read George Will's column on the constitutional questions that should be paramount and central to that debate.  In any case, Obamacare enrollment is poor, insurers are fleeing markets, and average premiums have more than doubled on the federal exchange since the law was implemented. But don't you dare say it's imploding...