Don’t pay attention to the tripling of premiums, doubling of deductibles, and narrowing provider networks covered by your quasi-government-run insurance. A new “study” from Kaiser Family Foundation, promoted prominently in the media, finds that the insurance markets have “stabilized.” Evidently, we need to conduct a study to ascertain a status that is apparent to any consumer not dependent upon the government, and ironically, that study has contradicted incontrovertible reality.
However, in one sense, the Kaiser study has stumbled upon the truth. 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.
But the study hails the fact that … the few remaining insurers are now making a profit! Problem solved, mission accomplished. The Hill crows:
The study from the Kaiser Family Foundation contrasts with Republican arguments that ObamaCare markets are in a “death spiral” and “collapsing.”
“Early results from 2017 suggest the individual market is stabilizing and insurers in this market are regaining profitability,” the study finds. “Insurer financial results show no sign of a market collapse.”
This is really very simple. 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. But that profit has not been earned by competing in an open market for the organic consumer demand. It has been attained by gaming the system through lobbyists and outlasting opponents in the narrow game of government regulations and subsidies. Consumers are left holding the bag.
Almost the entire South and large swaths of the Midwest, totaling over 1,200 counties or more than one-third of the counties in the nation, have only one insurer left. Just a handful of states have more than three insurers left, and a growing list of 47 counties will have no insurer whatsoever. There used to be five insurance providers in South Carolina. Now that Blue Cross Blue Shield has a monopoly on coverage, some of our CR staffers in the Palmetto State are paying more than $1,500 a month for subpar family coverage. Even in one of the “better states,” like my home state of Maryland, which now has three insurers left in the market, consumers will experience up to a 150 percent increase in premiums next year. My premiums have already tripled, and the coverage is terrible!
Yes, a government-driven monopoly is definitely one way to “stabilize” the markets. With endless subsidies and both parties now owning the promise for perpetual bailouts and cost-sharing payouts, it’s actually quite easy for the few remaining insurers to remain in business, especially if one or two more drop out. But what happens to the remaining Americans who aren’t subsidized? Also, how can we go on subsidizing a monopoly that could eventually charge $100,000 for premiums? And mind you, 84 percent of all those who gained “coverage” under Obamacare were through the Medicaid program, which has nothing to do with these so-called private insurers.
Consequently, the death spiral of profit losses might have subsided, thanks to the dearth of competition and the guarantee of subsidies and bailouts shielding some, but not all, consumers from skyrocketing prices. But the death spiral of premium hikes and narrowing networks will continue for those who want to pay their own way and will further encroach upon the employer-based market.
Oh, and nobody seems to care about what Obamacare has done to destroy the actual delivery of health care, not just the medical insurance market. But at this point, it’s hard for things to get much worse. The only level down is single-payer. Thus, much like a dead body, Obamacare is now “stable.”
There’s a beautiful populist message to promote, one rooted in the free market, if Republicans would only articulate it. We have all been raised on the notion that monopolies are detestable. Whenever any individual or corporation obtains a monopoly, even if acquired through free-market innovation and good service, we instantly conjure up an image of a greedy, Gilded Age, fat-cat tycoon sporting a monocle and the Monopoly man’s top hat. Yet, somehow, when private lobbyists use the boot of government to regulate and subsidize themselves into a monopoly at the expense of consumers, that is considered stable and laudatory. What about We the People?
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.