Remember the premise for Obamacare?
It was supposed to address the fact that millions of Americans - 48 million in 2012 - had no health insurance. President Obama and congressional Democrats rammed the program through, despite opposition by a majority of the American people, on the premise that these millions were uninsured because health insurance was unaffordable and it was government's responsibility to do something about it.
If that was the idea, the "Affordable Care Act" is failing miserably. An article in Saturday's Wall Street Journal detailed the magnitude of the failure. The WSJ cites a sampling survey by business consulting firm McKinsey & Co. that finds only 11 percent of those enrolling in Obamacare were previously uninsured. Further, 52 percent of those declining to buy insurance on Obamacare exchanges said they did so because the policies - subsidies and all - are unaffordable. Another 30 percent said they did not sign up because buying coverage on the exchanges is too technically challenging.
The Wall Street Journal checked around with a couple of insurers and found numbers that support the trend reported by McKinsey. Michigan-based Priority Health, for instance, reports that only 20 percent of enrollees in its Obamacare-compliant policies were previously uninsured.
The newspaper notes this is all very bad news for the health insurance industry, which made rate concessions and accepted new taxes on the assumption that Obamacare would offset those concessions by bringing large numbers of previously uninsured people, including healthy young people, into the market. The insurers hoped to make up in volume what they lost in per policy profit margins.
What appears to be happening, insurers say, is that many of the new enrollees are previously insured people who can save money due to the subsidies. Another significant influx is coming from people who had insurance with small companies that are now cutting benefits and dumping their workers into the exchanges. Still others are people who had policies canceled because they did not provide all the coverage required under new Obamacare rules.
The article cites particularly grim statistics from Michigan, where insurers were counting on 400,000 of that state's 1.2 million uninsured to buy from the exchanges in the first few months. So far, only 76,000 have enrolled, and most of those were previously insured.
So what has Obamacare accomplished to date? Well, there are the millions of people who had their plans canceled, despite the president's promise if they liked their coverage they could keep it.
For millions more, Obamacare has incentivized their small-company employers to dump them into the exchanges, where they may or may not find a comparable deal.
And as for those tens of millions who didn't have insurance because they couldn't afford it? Most are still uninsured, with the majority saying they still cannot afford it.
For this, the president and Democrats in Congress blew up the entire U.S. health care system? It is shaping up as the biggest political debacle in history. Unfortunately, the best health delivery system in the world is being destroyed in the process.
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