The Guardian: Obamacare ‘On The Cusp Of Falling Apart’ As Insurers Flee Health Exchanges
From The Guardian:
When Christine Lo left her job in June, she was hoping Obamacare would mean she could still have health insurance. Lo, 35, was confronted by a confusing enrollment process, which she said resulted in persistent calls from insurers trying to lure her in. Although she knew she would face tax penalties if she didn’t get coverage, she chose to cancel doctors’ appointments and go uninsured until she found a new job.
“I’m going to focus on finding a job that lets me have health insurance right away to avoid the whole Obamacare thing,” said Lo, who works in film and TV in New York. Lo’s frustrations come as Barack Obama prepares to depart the White House and leave his legacy healthcare reform, officially known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in the hands of a new president.
The Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has said he will scrap Obamacare altogether on day one while the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to try and rescue the health law as it enters a new, and worrying, stage in its development.[…]
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.