Higher Obamacare premiums in Arizona led to significant decline in enrollment

Arizona had the biggest increase in Obamacare premiums of any state last year, with rates going up as much as 116 percent. As you would expect, that sharp increase meant people who were not eligible for a subsidy were a lot less eager to sign up this year. From the Associated Press:

The review by University of Arizona health insurance expert Dr. Daniel Derksen of data released by the federal government last week shows a 23 percent decrease in enrollment by that group. Derksen’s review of analysis shows the number of people buying insurance who qualify for the tax credits rose by more than 3 percent.

Overall, Arizona saw a 3.3 percent enrollment decline in marketplace plans that are a key component of former President Barack Obama’s heath care law, to about 196,000 people…

The sharp decline in insurance purchases among higher-earning Arizonans who don’t get help paying for health insurance under Obama’s law shows the impact of the higher rates on those who don’t get subsidies, Derksen said.

“That’s the group that felt the full force of the doubling of premiums in our state,” said Derksen, a physician and director of the Arizona Center for Rural Health at the UofA College of Public Health.

While the people at the top of the income scale (those above 400% of the federal poverty line get no subsidies) saw their premiums nearly double this year and reacted to that increase, those who received subsidies actually saw the cost of their insurance drop from an average of $120 per month down to $104 per month. This is why I suggested several months ago that Obamacare would never undergo a complete death spiral. Instead, it would continue to limp along in a zombie state. Arizona seems to be at the forefront of that change.

Market forces are impacting about half the people buying Obamacare plans, gradually driving them out. As prices keep rising, those feeling the pinch decide it’s better to take a risk and pay the fine rather than get a plan with big premiums and a high deductible. On the other hand, those at the bottom of the income scale are untouched by problems in the broader market. It’s true that the premium increase will still be paid by American taxpayers, but the individual enrollees are insulated from the financial pain.

You can’t quite say such a system is dead so long as there are 8 million people happy to take the money being funneled their way from the taxpayers. Still, a system designed as an improvement for the entire individual insurance market is on its way to becoming a half-dead, half-living system. This zombie Obamacare is not at all what was sold to the American people by former President Obama and his party.