The nation's biggest health insurer, UnitedHealth Group has announced it is calling it quits in two state Obamacare markets, Georgia and Arkansas. The move comes after the company announced in January that it had lost $475 million on Obamacare policies in 2015 and expected to lose another $500 million this year. The company declined to say whether it would exit other markets.
UnitedHealth's move is just the latest exposing deep problems with the President's signature healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.
Health care has become a pivotal issue in this country and even more so after the passage of Obamacare. Signed into law six years ago, Obamacare remains a target of the right. All three Republican candidates call for the repeal and replacement of the president's signature health care law. But it's not just the Republican candidates calling for change. Bernie Sanders, if elected, would rewrite Obamacare by nationalizing Medicare and transforming it into a single-payer health care system. The candidate doesn't just believe that affordable care should be available to everyone but that healthcare is a "human right," that taxpayers should pick up the tab for. And while Clinton backs Obamacare, she also would also change the Affordable Care Act. Acknowledging that Obamacare premiums are too expensive, she advocates increasing tax subsidies for coverage, raising the program's costs to taxpayers.
Ultimately, the objections of even Democratic candidates reveals the deep disaffection with the law. And, it's no surprise why. Obamacare has missed the mark. Originally intending to help 40 million people without health care coverage, government insurance policies have been accessed by just 9.4 million to 11.4 million Americans, well below enrollment levels forecast by government analysts. (The CBO estimated 21 million would ultimately enroll.) Worse, while the president promised that Obamacare would allow Americans to keep their doctor and their insurance plan, those guarantees dissolved as the law when into effect. "Bending the cost curve" ended up meaning American families paid more for coverage.
The reality of Obamacare is far different from the promise. Costs are excessive whether you're looking at the ultimate price tag paid for the program by taxpayers or the tab for consumers. There are a total of two dozen new or higher taxes imposed by Obamacare and the law is already the single biggest driver of entitlement spending by the government, according to the American Enterprise Institute. For families who do enroll, deductibles and premiums skyrocketed. The promise that quality healthcare coverage could be offered by the government for less than the cost of a cell phone -- an idea the president once touted -- has turned out to be simply wrong.
Unfortunately, coverage of the shortcomings of Obamacare have largely faded from view. We were riveted by the failures of the Obamacare website itself. Remember then then Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius attempted to defend the law's implementation before a Congressional committee? Throughout her testimony, in which she claimed Obamacare was working for "millions of Americans," the website was down, unavailable to the Americans who had paid for it. Cable networks broadcast split images, one of Sibelius and the other of the failed Healthcare.gov homepage. Though the media's attention has moved on to the election, problems continue for Americans seeking affordable care.
The reality is this: It's on your shoulders to find care that fits your needs and your families at a price you can afford. Obamacare's solutions have come up short. But the frustration with care in this country is climbing. One young family I know that lives in the suburbs of Dallas has opted out of the system altogether, preferring to pay the law's penalties for lack of coverage rather than the expensive premiums. They pay out of pocket for care. This is precisely what Obamacare was intended to prevent, but this family can't afford Affordable Care coverage.
Fortunately, there are ways of reducing costs and forcing the medical establishment to reduce its costs. For more on how to fight back, check out my book "Rich is Not a Four-Letter Word."
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