The rate of uninsured Americans is ticking up again, and some of the explanations offered fall somewhere between the failures of Obamacare itself and the failure of Republicans to repeal it.
According to the latest Gallup/Sharecare index, the percentage of American adults without health insurance has increased from 10.9 to 11.7 percent since the end of last year, which translates to almost 2 million people without coverage.
And the researchers at Gallup aren’t even bothering to hide the reasons why.
“Several marketplace factors could be contributing to the uptick in the uninsured rate since the second half of 2016 [...] Rising insurance premiums could be causing some Americans to forgo insurance, especially those who fail to qualify for federal subsidies. Furthermore, some insurance companies are leaving the ACA marketplace, and the lack of competition could be driving up the cost of plans for consumers,” the report states.
The report goes on to suggest that uncertainty about Obamacare’s future could also be causing people to stay away from the markets — at least until they know what they’ll be dealing with once a bill is passed.
Such hesitation would make sense. Given last year’s rampant premium increases, the ever-increasing number of insurers disappearing from the individual market, and GOP leadership hesitant to repeal the worst portions of the law, naturally people are casting a wary eye at the insurance market.
The goal of Obamacare was to increase coverage with greater government control of the insurance industry, forcing Americans to buy into the industry, and then offset the rest of the cost with a mixture of subsidies and entitlements.
But, as the Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon explains, throwing everybody into the same health insurance pot and expecting things to somehow balance out is precisely why Obamacare has been so disastrous.
The dire state of the insurance market strikes a blow against the liberals’ narrative that Obamacare is somehow the only thing holding down the current insurance rate, as millions of Americans are also going without insurance with the current law in place. It also serves as a stark reminder of what Americans will still be dealing with, should the GOP fail to deliver on a substantive repeal.
As a counterpoint to the woes of the millions of people losing or going without insurance under the current system, Obamacare boosters in the policy world have been pointing to a recent study that shows how the insurance markets are “stabilizing.” However, stable doesn’t always mean good for consumers, as Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz explains:
"The insurance market has indeed stabilized … the same way a dead body is 'stable' and no longer in critical condition, the same way someone in a free fall has stabilized at the bottom of the trajectory. There is no longer any private sector left in the insurance market. The few remaining insurers have stayed in the market through a guaranteed flow of government subsidies — a regulation-controlled monopoly that has driven out competitors lacking economies of scale and tripled premiums, with endless rate hikes in sight."
“When, thanks to insolvent government regulations but endless government subsidies, only a handful of insurers are left with a monopoly on the market, they will find a way to make a profit,” Horowitz writes.
But when that profit has not been earned on a level playing field, but through government manufacturing, he states, “Consumers are left holding the bag.”
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