ObamaCare Still Dying

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This week’s Health Policy News Roundup curated by Jane M. Orient, M.D.

In just two months, the situation with ObamaCare has gone from terrible to nearly unrecoverable, writes Justin Haskins. According to CMS projections, the number of counties expected to have only one health insurance carrier in the Exchange in 2018 is 1,478, an astounding 47 percent of all counties. Compared to 2015, that’s a 683 percent increase in the number of counties with only one insurer (175 counties then). The program’s greatest “achievement” is getting tens of millions of people dependent on government via Medicaid. http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/the-obamacare-death-spiral-is-quietly-getting-much-worse/article/2632860

Nevertheless, the top six health insurance companies (UnitedHealth Group, Anthem, Aetna, Cigna, Humana, and Centene) reported $6 billion in combined adjusted profits for the second quarter of this year, up 29 percent from the same quarter a year ago, far outpacing the overall S&P 500 health care sector’s growth of 8.5 percent for the quarter. The source of their profit? Taxpayers and public debt! Their core business is coverage to large and mid-size employers—and Medicare Advantage and Medicaid managed care. Call these programs “venture socialism.”

In many respects, writes Daniel Horowitz, “our system of venture socialism is worse than single-payer, because it combines socialism with the greed of capitalism. However, unlike capitalism, in venture socialism, government shields the private entities from market forces. It guarantees them an endless flow of public funds, consumer mandates, and regulatory favors (no anti-trust laws, but onerous coverage burdens to keep out new competitors) to remove any need to innovate and compete.” https://www.conservativereview.com/articles/insurance-cartel-making-record-profit-why-more-illegal-bailouts

As ObamaCare fails, Democrats are pushing a “Medicare buy-in”—essentially a taxpayer buy-in. This would make private coverage still more expensive, writes Merrill Matthews. https://www.forbes.com/sites/merrillmatthews/2017/08/11/democrats-push-medicare-expansion-because-obamacare-has-failed

A “Medicaid-for-all” buy-in is also proposed. It was enacted in Nevada, then vetoed by Gov. Sandoval. Since 1966, Medicaid enrollment increased from 4 million to 20.7 million a decade later. Today, 68 million are on the program. Since 2000, the share of the U.S. population on Medicaid has jumped from 12.6 percent to 23 percent, writes Sally Pipes. ObamaCare added some 14 million; the costs of ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion are running about 50 percent higher than expected. https://www.forbes.com/sites/sallypipes/2017/08/21/the-false-promise-of-medicaid-for-all/#2eae28f45179

Keeping ObamaCare afloat requires ever more taxpayer money. Blame it on the ObamaCare-industrial complex, writes Stephen Moore. https://townhall.com/columnists/stephenmoore/2017/08/15/beware-the-obamacareindustrial-complex-n2368590

The constant increase in the infusion of federal money into “healthcare” accounts for 100% of the increased size of government over the past 50 years, writes Chris Conover. Since he thinks his federal health spending figures for the current year are understated by 30% while those for state and local governments likely are understated by 56%, the effect is even greater. https://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2017/08/26/diagnosing-americas-health-care-mess-part-4/#2b4c04e8576e

See Figure 4 in the above article. If still more is spent to buoy up dying ObamaCare, what will save the rest of the economy?

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    The Millennials who were a big part of the coalition that elected Obama to the White House twice are hypocritically not buying into Obamacare in sufficient numbers and the Obamacare exchanges are falling into an adverse selection death spiral. Enrollment among 18 to 34 year old’s accounted for just 26 percent of the total this year which is far below the 40 percent Obama administration officials said was needed to keep the exchanges actuarially stable.

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