Sick, elderly, and/or poor people who actually need health insurance are ruining Obamacare for the rest of us, if a common mantra of the health insurance industry is to be believed.
While not wording it quite as harshly, the health insurance industry has said that Affordable Care Act customers are making heavy use of medical services, more than the industry anticipated, costing health insurance companies revenue and explaining next year’s premium increases.
People who need Obamacare and who do not qualify for any government subsidies are expected to pay the price, as a recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that premiums for policies sold on the Healthcare.gov exchanges are rising at a national average of 25% next year.
The premium increases follow months of major insurance companies groaning about financial losses thanks to Obamacare customers. In March 2016, insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield published a report stating that people who signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act have higher rates of certain diseases “than individuals who had BCBS individual coverage prior to health care reform.”
A Blue Cross Blue Shield lobbyist quoted in an accompanying press release suggests that customers are visiting the emergency room excessively, among other problems. “Better communication and coordination is needed so that everyone understands how to avoid unnecessary emergency room visits, make full use of primary care and preventive services and learn how to properly adhere to their medications,” she says.
The month after the BCBS report was published, UnitedHealth, the nation’s largest insurer, announced that it was leaving almost all of the Obamacare markets due to the high expense of insuring patients. Aetna, the nation’s third largest insurer, followed suit this summer. “[Aetna] Chief executive Mark Bertolini said in a statement that there are not enough healthy people to financially offset those with major health problems who require high-cost care,” reported the Washington Post.
As with other major policy problems, millennials are also accused of making things worse. Consider all the young, healthy people who don’t want to pay for any insurance because they realized it’s much cheaper to just pay the penalty. The number of healthy people opting to go without coverage “helps explain why insurers are worried about the financial viability of the exchanges over time,” according to a New York Times report published earlier this year.
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