ObamaCare is heading toward a death spiral.
The Obama administration is having trouble selling insurance plans to healthy people. That’s a big problem: When the young and healthy don’t enroll, premiums have to be hiked to cover the costs of older, sicker people, discouraging even more young people from signing up.
Last Thursday, the administration predicted enrollment for 2016 will be less than half what the Congressional Budget Office predicted in March.
Despite subsidies to help with premiums and out-of-pocket costs, most of the uninsured who are eligible for ObamaCare are saying “no thanks.” Only one in seven is expected to sign up. That’s despite a hefty increase in the financial penalty next year for not having insurance.
The president sees the writing on the wall. You won’t be seeing the customary nationwide TV campaign to encourage sign-ups, as there were in previous years. Remember the young guy in plaid pajamas — “Pajama Boy,” to conservatives — well, he won’t be back this winter.
Bad enough that healthy people aren’t buying. Worse is that the administration is spending billions of your tax dollars covering up the problem, paying insurers to keep offering the plans, even though they’re losing their shirts. But facts are facts — and there’s no hiding these.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell predicts ObamaCare enrollment will inch up by 1 million or so, to 10 million people — half what the CBO forecasted. Open enrollment for the coming year, which begins Nov. 1, “is going to be a challenge,” she said.
David Wichmann, UnitedHealth Group’s president, announced higher premiums last week because enrollees will “require more medical services than original expectations.”
Many states (though not New York) are looking at premium hikes of 30 percent or more, according to a new Robert Wood Johnson/Urban Institute analysis. The Heritage Foundation estimates that insurers lost 12 percent selling ACA plans in 2014, with more losses this year.