This doesn’t — or at least shouldn’t — come as much of a surprise: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act apparently isn’t so affordable after all.
From Monday’s Los Angeles Times: “Less than a year before Americans will be required to have insurance under President Obama’s health care law, many of its backers are growing increasingly anxious that premiums could jump, driven up by the legislation itself.”
Sounds like not just buyer’s but seller’s remorse for supporters of that landmark legislation, which President Barack Obama pushed through Congress in 2010 without a single Republican vote.
Those sadder but wiser “backers” include the leaders of the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut. Jill Zorn, that consumer advocacy organization’s senior program officer, told the Times: “The single biggest issue we face now is affordability.”
Numerous officials in states that backed the law are facing that unsettling fact, too.
More from the Times: “Insurance regulators in California, which has enthusiastically embraced the law, cautioned the Obama administration in a recent letter about ‘rate and market disruption.’ Oregon’s insurance commissioner, another supporter of the law, said new regulations could push up premiums for young customers by as much as 30 percent next year.”
Even “Young Invincibles,” an advocacy group for consumers in their 20s, has changed its tune and is now sounding an alarm against the law.
An underlying problem: Most young, healthy Americans will choose to pay the law’s small penalty for not buying insurance rather than purchasing their own policies.
According to the Times: “That, in turn, would leave an older, sicker population in the insurance pool, a phenomenon that typically inflates premiums.”
To counter the anticipated “rate shock,” regulators in many states that supported the law are seeking delays in its implementation — just as many businesses and unions have previously sought and obtained “waivers.”
Now that the states’ Obamacare tabs are about to come due, the people who run them are recognizing its high costs — and taking steps to minimize them.
Twenty-six states, including South Carolina, have chosen to let the federal government run the health insurance “exchanges” mandated by the law to offer policies to the uninsured. The deadline for setting up those exchanges, a task the Obama administration repeatedly urged the states to take on, was last Friday.
Meanwhile, 12 states, including South Carolina, are opting out of Obamacare’s major expansion of Medicaid.
Another five states are reportedly leaning the same way rather than pick up their share, starting next year, of the much larger field of Medicaid-eligible Americans the law requires.
Clearly, state and local governments, along with private businesses and individuals, are increasingly wary of Obamacare’s real long-term costs.
And while “I told you so” might provide some consolation to those who warned that the “Affordable” Care Act was quite unaffordable, that will likely be a woefully insufficient tonic for the law’s negative side-effects.