Our prediction Sept. 27 that ObamaCare was headed for a rocky start if not a train wreck proved to be accurate, but that’s not the last of the nasty surprises awaiting the American public.
First, some perspective. People actually have until the end of March to sign-up for ObamaCare, plenty of time for even the federal government to straighten out the computer mess and get people onboard. We won’t know for at least a year how well the insurance is working for most people.
Still, the botched launch of the sign-up will make it harder to achieve the enrollment mix supporters were hoping for. To keep premiums down, enough young, healthy people have to join up to balance out the older, sicker, uninsured people who will enroll. The endless delays people have to endure to enroll won’t discourage those who need medical treatment; those who are young and healthy may just walk away.
If that scenario becomes reality, insurance rates will soar in 2015. Of course, that’s going to happen for a lot of people in 2014.
Since 2009, President Obama has been saying that “If you like your health-care plan, you will get to keep your health-care plan. Period.” But as many people are starting to learn, that isn’t true.
Those self-insured people are getting cancellation notices from their health insurance companies because current policies don’t include the minimum coverage set forth in the ObamaCare legislation. It is estimated that as many as 900,000 Californians may have their current policies cancelled by Dec. 31.
Some people will end up with new policies at higher premiums to cover such items as maternity care, mental health and substance abuse–benefits they don’t have now and may not need.
But President Obama has some advice for people getting cancelled: “If you’re getting one of these letters, just shop around in the new marketplace.” That has certainly worked well so far.
There’s another aspect of ObamaCare that’s been flying under the radar, but may have a bigger impact than anybody expected. Along with getting people private health insurance, the law aims to enroll more people in Medicaid (MediCal in California).
We’re not talking small numbers here. The Congressional Budget Office projected in May that nine million Americans would be added to Medicaid’s rolls in 2014, while seven million would sign-up for private coverage through insurance exchanges. Early indications are the Medicaid estimate may be conservative.
Washington state reports that 87 percent of people enrolling in new insurance plans from Oct. 1 to Oct. 21 joined Medicaid programs. The numbers were 82 percent in Kentucky and 64 percent in New York state.
States are aggressively recruiting those eligible to sign-up for Medicaid, but ObamaCare also loosens the standards, expanding the program to cover people earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
You don’t suppose some people signed up for Medicaid to avoid the premiums they’d have to pay for private insurance? Stay tuned, and be glad you’re not a Democratic Congressman or Senator up for reelection next November.