In a post I wrote about 7 months ago, I stated that it was too soon to tell what the real effect of Obamacare on the overall cost of healthcare/health insurance was going to be. Unstable membership populations, loss-leader offerings by insurance companies, and other factors means that it will probably take several years for the final story to be told.
It is now the season for insurance companies to ask their state regulators for rate hikes, and 2016 is shaping up to be a doozy. Reports are that insurers are asking for rate hikes of 20% – 53% for state and federal exchange plans. Stated reasons include claims that the newly insured were sicker than expected and statements by Obamacare supporters that this proves the law is working.
I’m sure the many state regulators will not approve the asked-for rate increases, but there were certainly be non-trivial rate increases. This should serve as a reminder that Obamacare does little to disrupt the exorbitantly expensive U.S. healthcare system. It’s the same insurance companies using the same billing rules paying the same hospital systems (which are getting bigger and extracting even higher fees) and paying the same doctors under the same AMA billing and coding rules. And no politician is proposing another important change required — that the American people change their expectations of the services a healthcare system is meant to provide.
And we keep wasting a trillion dollars a year.