One week ago, the President presented his solution for the millions of Americans who are receiving insurance cancellation notices because of Obamacare. His solution for the 4.7 million known cancellations depended on a “yes” from 50 different state health insurance commissioners and multiple insurance carriers operating in multiple markets.
So how goes it?
So far, at least eight state commissioners—from Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington State—have turned the President down, effectively barring renewal of canceled policies. They are concerned that prices in the exchange markets could increase if some people are allowed to stay out of them.
Even an invitation from the White House to meet with the President this week—which is certainly not an everyday occurrence for state insurance commissioners—was declined by six commissioners due to “serious reservations about both the process and the policy issues surrounding such an important meeting.”
In five of the eight states where cancellation numbers are known, at least 711,000 people will need to look for new coverage. In most cases, research shows that premiums will cost more in the exchanges—far more in some cases—than what they are currently paying. In Vermont, for example, the average premium for a 27-year-old buying on the exchange has increased 144 percent compared to the price in Vermont’s individual market before Obamacare.
According to The New York Times, 13 states have decided to allow renewals, and in 22 states, including California, decisions have not been made or information is not available.
Often lost in coverage of the President’s “fix” is the intent to allow renewal for people covered through small group coverage, not just the individual market. Approximately 17 million people are insured in the small group (fewer than 50 people insured) market, and many, such as Texas small businessman Larry Patterson, are receiving cancellations affecting not just their own families but that of their employees as well.
State insurance commissioners and insurance companies must add this segment into the equation when calculating potential disruption of exchange pools and short turnaround times for pricing and renewals.
As Will Rogers said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” When it comes to Obamacare, the American public’s first impression is already scorched by website problems and cancellations. It would seem that any fix personally announced by the President would be well-vetted and flawless, particularly when he, himself, says he needs to “win back credibility on the health law.”
Instead, it is apparent that neither insurance commissioners nor companies were consulted in advance of the President’s announced “fix”; instead, hastily called after-the-fact meetings seem bungled, and repeated missteps are understandably eroding confidence in the President and raising questions about judgment and competence.
In the end, however, Obamacare in its entirety is fatally flawed. Trying to fix a piece of it is akin to replacing a few roof shingles when the house’s foundation is flawed—it won’t work. It’s not surprising, then, that CBS polling shows an all-time high disapproval of the law (64 percent). The more people get to know Obamacare, the less they like it.