Obamacare Sticker Shock Zeroing In On Nebraska

Posted: Sep 06, 2016 8:00 PM

Guy has covered the dismal Obamacare news. Right now, the entire law is on the verge of total and complete collapse. Premiums are set to spike by double-digits again, even for the low-cost plans, and more Americans are opting to pay the penalty rather than enroll due to the costs. The law that was meant to make health care cheaper and more accessible has people waiting on the sidelines because it’s more economical for them. In Tennessee, the insurance commissioner warned that the president’s signature domestic achievement is about to breakdown. In Nebraska, the state also braces for sticker shock on its insurance rates (via Omaha World-Herald):

A sampling of individual health insurance rates for Nebraskans next year shows increases that will average about 35 percent on the Affordable Care Act marketplace, with some increases near 50 percent.

But federal officials have said the law’s tax subsidies will offset such increases for three out of every four people buying the policies, allowing them to purchase coverage for $75 or less per month.

Figures issued Friday by the Nebraska Department of Insurance showed increases ranging from 12 percent to nearly 50 percent for a sampling of policies that would take effect Jan. 1.

The figures compared 2016 and 2017 rates for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, Aetna Health Inc. and Medica, the three companies that will offer policies to Nebraskans on the exchange when open enrollment starts Nov. 1.


Jerry Byers, chief financial officer for Blue Cross, said rates are increasing for 2017 because people buying insurance under the law used health care more frequently in 2015 than expected. The result: a $64 million loss for that line of business at Blue Cross last year.

The losses incurred by insurers have prompted many to flee the Obamacare market. Blue Cross Blue Shield in North Carolina, the only insurer that offers Obamacare health care plans to all 100 counties, suffered massive losses. In Minnesota, Blue Cross Blue Shield decided to leave the individual market altogether. UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, announced that it was making its exodus from California by the end of the year. These are chips that are falling away, which could see the entire law fall to pieces. The Guardian had the latest update on the law's deathwatch:

Under the ACA, health insurance marketplaces, also called health exchanges, were set up to facilitate the purchase of health insurance in each state. Customers are free to choose from a set of standardized healthcare plans from participating insurers, and those policies are eligible for federal subsidies.

But insurers have been fleeing the exchanges, arguing that they are loss makers and the types of people attracted to them make the risks too great for the insurers to provide affordable (and profitable) policies.

David Howard, an associate professor at Emory University’s department of health policy and management, said the ACA included provisions to keep the marketplaces stable, but some of those were watered down in the push to get the deal through Congress, and in other cases the provisions have not been enacted in the way people expected. “So that means the exchanges are potentially on the cusp of falling apart,” Howard said.

The marketplaces are unstable in part because they are new, and all the parties involved – from insurers to those who need insurance – are trying to figure out where they fit into the equation. The system needs healthy people to enroll to help offset the costs of sicker people, but that is not what is happening – there are fewer enrollees than projected, and they are sicker than anticipated.

On top of that, premiums are expected to rise, which makes insurance from the marketplaces less attractive to the healthy, young people they need. “They’re eventually going to get to the point where premiums go up, healthy people drop out of the market, which causes premiums to go up more, then more healthy people drop out of the market, and eventually the whole thing just falls apart,” said Howard.

There is something to be said that Obamacare’s structure was never meant to work. It was to create a slow decay of law in order for the progressive Left to make the case for single-payer health care. There may be something to that. Then again, it’s a typical byproduct emanating from a big government, liberal program.