Thursday, January 2, 2014

#ObamaCare Disaster Faces New Test

It's not a new test, really. It's the same death spiral people have been talking about all along.

At the Wall Street Journal, "Health Law's Uneasy Launch: Affordable Care Act Faces Next Hurdles (at Google):
Nearly four years after President Barack Obama signed his health initiative into law, the Affordable Care Act is officially reshaping America's $2.75 trillion health-care system.

A survivor of bare-knuckle political fights, a U.S. Supreme Court challenge and a technologically disastrous rollout, the law now faces a fundamental test: Can its mix of government subsidies and market-based competition extend health insurance to millions of people whose medical conditions, income level or personal choice left them without it?

So far, there are some troubling signs. A high proportion of people signing up for new plans are older or have existing health problems—and not enough younger, healthier people may be joining the plans to balance them out and make the plans profitable.

Early glitches in, the federal marketplace serving 36 states, as well as in some state marketplaces likely deterred younger customers, said insurers and actuaries. Less-healthy shoppers were more likely to persist and sign up, they said.

If the trend continues as 2014 enrollment closes at the end of March, insurers in the new marketplaces "will think twice about losing money" and withdraw plans, said Jim O'Connor, an actuary at Milliman Inc. Provisions of the law aim to limit insurers' risk by redistributing money to those with less-healthy customers, but it isn't yet clear how effective they will be.

Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the law's rollout, said the law "is making health insurance more affordable for young adults." Officials aren't yet able to provide demographic breakdowns of marketplace enrollees, she said.

Julie Bataille, communications director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told reporters this week that as of Jan. 1, "millions of Americans will have health insurance, many for the first time."

Meantime, some previously insured consumers are vexed that deductibles under the new policies are higher than under prior plans, which can make doctors' visits and procedures more expensive than they anticipated.

Moreover, 25 states have refused to expand Medicaid, the state-federal health plan for low-income people. The expansion was envisioned under the law as a backstop for the poorest uninsured, who now have few options in those states.

The array of challenges has hurt Mr. Obama's standing and public support of the law, which polls show dropped to a new low in late December.

Boosted by repairs to the online exchanges, 2.1 million people used them to obtain private insurance through Dec. 24, the deadline for picking coverage effective Jan. 1 in most states, U.S. health officials said Tuesday.

The number represents a surge since Nov. 30, when the nationwide figure was about 365,000, but it falls short of a September estimate by the administration that some 3.3 million people would sign up for private plans by year's end.
Well, not even that last part about 2.1 million is true. Just one more lie the administration's foisted on a compliant sheeple. See Philip Klein, "No, 2.1 million haven't enrolled in Obamacare plans."

And until it's repealed, ObamaCare will continue to drag down the quality of healthcare in America. WaPo has that, "With new year, Medicaid takes on a broader health-care role."