The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported in June that since the beginning of 2016 to March, 1.6 million people left coverage they obtained from state and federal health insurance marketplaces. Total enrollment dropped from 12.7 million people to 11.1 million, a 13 percent decline. HHS claims this drop is acceptable, as they expected their retention rate to remain between 80-90 percent (currently at 87 percent). Originally, the Congressional Budget Office projected 2016 exchange enrollment to encompass 21 million people, but enrollment is now projected to remain around 10 million people for the year. Eight in ten people enrolled in a marketplace plan—about 9.4 million people—receive premium subsidies averaging $291 a month.
The ACA has done nothing for controlling costs or providing access. Access without affordability is not true access. If a person can’t afford 25% of a $400/month premium after a government subsidy, why is the healthcare law called the Affordable Care Act? Even if consumers can afford a quarter of their monthly premium—approximately $100—what happens when they have to fix their car or buy a tire, so they can get to work to earn the money to pay for their insurance? The ACA is not a success as President Obama would like everyone to think—no matter what the political spin!
Until the government decides to acknowledge the REAL problem in the United States, they will keep putting multi trillion dollar Band-Aids on the problem. To offer an analogy, the ACA is like trying to stop the Mississippi River from flowing by throwing a hundred or a thousand sandbags into the water: it will still flood over the sandbags.
The problem that the US faces can be found in the mirror. With only a few million people paying their full premiums for marketplace plans, the government is still funding insurance for most Obamacare consumers, while encouraging zero accountability for those consumers’ health choices. While employers can institute corporate wellness programs designed to educate employees about healthcare consumerism and provide opportunities for lifestyle education and tracking, the exchange plans have none of these benefits. As a 2016 report from the BlueCross BlueShield Foundation showed, across enrollees in their exchange plans for 2014 and 2015, these members were more likely to have heart disease, diabetes, and depression, and to run up medical costs 22 percent higher than members with employer-sponsored health plans. Insurance companies can “hope” all they want for younger enrollees who are one, able to pay their entire premiums and two, have fewer claims and lower medical costs. Until carriers and the government acknowledges that merely providing coverage for sick individuals is but part of the plan, the ACA or any other government-sponsored program will not magically produce a healthier America.