From the Wall Street Journal:
The White House is claiming that the Healthcare.gov website is mostly fixed, that the millions of Americans whose health plans were canceled thanks to government rules may be able to keep them for another year, and that in any event these people will get better plans through ObamaCare exchanges. Whatever the truth of these assertions, those who expect better days ahead for the Affordable Care Act are in for a rude awakening.
The shocks—economic and political—will get much worse next year and beyond. Here's why: The "sticker shock" that many buyers of new, ACA-compliant health plans have experienced—with premiums 30% higher, or more, than their previous coverage—has only begun.
The costs borne by individuals will be even more obvious next year as more people start having to pay higher deductibles and copays. If, as many predict, too few healthy young people sign up for insurance that is overpriced in order to subsidize older, sicker people, the insurance market will unravel in a "death spiral" of ever-higher premiums and fewer signups.
The government, through taxpayer-funded "risk corridors," is on the hook for billions of dollars of potential insurance-company losses. This will be about as politically popular as bank bailouts.
The "I can't keep my doctor" shock will also hit more and more people in coming months. To keep prices to consumers as low as possible—given cost pressures generated by the government's rules, controls and coverage mandates—insurance companies in many cases are offering plans that have very restrictive networks, with lower-cost providers that exclude some of the best physicians and hospitals.
Next year, millions must choose among unfamiliar physicians and hospitals, or paying more for preferred providers who are not part of their insurance network. Some health outcomes will deteriorate from a less familiar doctor-patient relationship.
More IT failures are likely. People looking for health plans on ObamaCare exchanges may be able to fill out their applications with more ease. But the far more complex back-office side of the website—where the information in their application is checked against government databases to determine the premium subsidies and prices they will be charged, and where the applications are forwarded to insurance companies—is still under construction. Be prepared for eligibility, coverage gap, billing, claims, insurer payment and patient information-protection debacles.