Obamacare’s main intent was to provide coverage to the uninsured. But if you eliminate those who haven’t paid their first premium under Obamacare, the number is not 8 million enrollees, as claimed by the White House, but 6.6 million, a figure barely above the 5-6 million who lost their existing plans under O’Care. Edward Morrissey explains here in the Fiscal Times how the coming sharp price increases in insurance premiums already have businesses looking at ways to opt out of health coverage for employees.
That brings us to the group-insurance market, where most Americans get their health insurance. Shortly after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services produced an analysis that predicted the employer mandates and increased costs would force “66 percent of small employer plans and 45 percent of large employer plans” to be canceled. That was the “mid-range” estimate, one that went unnoticed until the mass cancellations of plans in the individual market.
As Forbes’ Avik Roy argued at the time, it meant that the churn in the individual market provided just an appetizer to the main course of market disruption that will come this fall.
The White House has been attempting to avoid its consequences ever since. They have delayed the implementation of the employer mandate for businesses with fewer than 200 employees until 2016, and pushed open enrollment this fall for 2015 until mid-November – well after the midterm elections.
However, the steep price increases coming in this market already have businesses looking at bailing out of health coverage for their employees, NPR reported this week, with the impossibly sunny spin that employers had begun considering plans to “give workers a chunk of cash” to get pushed into the individual markets.
Ignoring months of failures in federal and state exchanges, NPR’s Michelle Andrews quoted one expert as saying, “The technology has caught up with the concept.” That would be news to states like Oregon, Massachusetts, and Maryland, which had to dump their exchanges and start over from scratch, or anyone who expected Healthcare.gov to track the simplest data – such as whether an enrollee actually paid a premium.
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