Plan-demonium! U.S. Not Sold on ObamaCare

Barb Wire

ObamaCare was supposed to give Americans more health care coverage. There’s just one problem: no one wants it! That’s the conclusion of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which added to the law’s heap of troubles with its latest projections. Turns out, even hefty fines can’t persuade Americans to buy into the president’s system, as millions opt not to enroll. After predicting business would top 20 million people, CBO broke the bad news that enrollment would miss the mark by a whopping 40 percent.

Adding to the government’s woes, a huge slice — 11 of the 13 million — will need government subsidies just to buy the insurance. And unfortunately for taxpayers, those subsidies don’t come cheap. As the number-crunchers at CBO warned, “Subsidies and related spending are expected to increase by $18 billion in 2016, reaching a total of $56 billion.” Still, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell insists the health care exchanges “have seen ‘unprecedented demand’ and ‘steady progress signing up new customers.'”

But unlike the Obama administration, the numbers don’t lie. With just five days left in the sign-up window, enrollment is lower now than it was in 2015. Only in liberal speak is that “progress!” And, as several experts point out, fewer customers means higher costs. “For middle-class families, premium hikes this year have only made a further mockery of the Affordable Care Act’s name,” Forbes chastised. ”

A typical family making 400 percent of the poverty level — the cutoff for ObamaCare’s subsidies — must spend almost 10 percent of its income on insurance premiums, according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. And that’s for a health plan that could still saddle them with thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.” The CBO report sent a tremor through insurance companies, who were already skittish about their involvement in ObamaCare’s sinking ship. Most have two options: charge more or leave the exchange altogether.

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UnitedHealth, one of America’s largest health insurers, has already taken a half-billion dollar hit for joining the system. “We can’t subsidize a market that doesn’t appear at this point to be sustaining itself,” CEO Stephen Hemsley said in November. Three months later, its involvement with ObamaCare is dragging the entire company down. “No company can sustain the kinds of losses UHG is experiencing… and stay in this market long, nor should they,” wrote Joel White of the Council for Affordable Health Coverage. With enrollment drying up and sick customers outweighing healthy ones, “it looks like the start of a death spiral,” he warned.

Meanwhile, the only death spiral Americans are interested in is the law’s. Congress did its part, sending a bill to repeal the major pillars of ObamaCare to the president’s desk. He stood by his namesake (and its failures) by vetoing the measure. Next week, the House and Senate will try to find the votes to override him.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law. (Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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