Chicago Tribune: Why Obamacare failed
posted at 8:41 pm on September 9, 2016 by John Sexton
The Chicago Tribune published a blistering editorial Friday which says Obamacare is not only failing but has already failed because it “flunked Economics 101 and Human Nature 101.”
Come November, the grim trudge across the increasingly barren Obamacare landscape begins anew. Illinois consumers likely face staggering price hikes for individual insurance policies. Some types of plans could cost an average of 43 percent to 55 percent more. Ditto across the country: A first tranche of states approved 2017 rates with similarly cardiac-arrest-inducing premium increases.
After highlighting the withdrawal of insurers in Illinois and elsewhere the editorial offers a list of problems each of which begins, “Obamacare failed because…” Here’s a sample:
Obamacare failed because it flunked Economics 101 and Human Nature 101. It straitjacketed insurers into providing overly expensive, soup-to-nuts policies. It wasn’t flexible enough so that people could buy as much coverage as they wanted and could afford — not what the government dictated. Many healthy people primarily want catastrophic coverage. Obamacare couldn’t lure them in, couldn’t persuade them to buy on the chance they’d get sick.
Obamacare failed because too many carriers simply can’t cover expenses, let alone turn a profit, in this rigidly controlled system. Take Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, the state’s dominant Obamacare insurer. Last year, for every dollar the carrier collected, it spent $1.32 buying care and providing services for customers, according to BCBS President Maurice Smith. No wonder BCBS is proposing rate increases from 23 percent to 45 percent for its individual plans.
The editorial board balks at predicting this all adds up to a “death spiral” but quickly adds, “neither do we see a mathematical alternative.” The piece concludes, “The next president and Congress either reckon with Obamacare’s failures or … wait for the thud.”
Remember, the original idea was that Obamacare was going to be a new kind of portable insurance that might even lure people away from their employer-based plans over time. The reality, as the NY Times pointed out last month, is closer to “Medicaid, only with a high deductible.”