Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Obamacare Slips, Reforms Are Needed

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Obamacare Slips, Reforms Are Needed

Article excerpt

The Affordable Care Act is plagued by its two original flaws: A failure to control costs and the lack of bipartisan support.

As a result, major health insurers continue to pull back from Obamacare exchanges because they are losing money.

Meanwhile, reform is as distant as a cold day in August.

In their heart of hearts, Democrats want a public option, but it is never going to happen.

Look at the Veterans Administration health care system as an example of how difficult it is to reform an entrenched bureaucracy.

Republicans, led by Rep. Paul Ryan, want to provide tax exemptions and credits to move health insurance more toward real insurance - paying for extreme events, catastrophic care and not incentivizing unnecessary care.

Evidence that Obamacare is collapsing is too obvious to ignore.

Aetna, the nation's third-largest insurer, is leaving most Obamacare exchanges, citing $430 million in losses on exchanges since January.

Also, Humana is cutting its Obamacare exposure from 15 states to 11 states, reported The Washington Post.

UnitedHealth Group plans to remain in just "three or fewer" states. It lost more than $1 billion on the exchanges since 2015, Time magazine reported.

Anthem is projecting losses on its individual plans sold through the Obamacare exchanges.

So what has caused the losses? The problem, a continuous one, is not enough healthy people are joining the exchanges to make up for all the sick ones. It's a classic death spiral.

Obamacare's crafters predicted that sicker people would be the first to sign up, so there were provisions for the government to share some of that risk with the private insurers.

But none of the provisions have worked well, and here the blame must fall on both Democrats and Republicans.

Reform efforts have fallen victim to toxic partisanship in Washington.

Meanwhile, the few Obamacare plans that are working are crafted more like Medicaid than employer-sponsored insurance.

The problem here is that many of the Obamacare plans have high deductibles and co-pays, which makes them unaffordable for many consumers without subsidies.

The average deductible for the most common Obamacare plan is over $3,000. Average out-of-pocket expenses for a hospital stay can top $4,000.

Realistically, the plans that are working look more like that hated three-letter acronym, HMO.

Two-thirds of Obamacare plans, reports The New York Times, offer limited choices of doctors.

The confident statement by President Barack Obama that "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor," is not true.

Of course, there are examples of good HMOs like Kaiser Permanente in California.

One study of a narrow network in Massachusetts showed no reduction in quality than a more generous employer plan. …

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