A growing number of insurers are asking for double-digit premium increases or deciding to leave the market altogether. In the latest announcement, Anthem said Tuesday that it was pulling out of the Ohio marketplace, where it serves more than 10,000 customers, next year. And while most analysts say the market probably would eventually rebound, in the short term things could get messy.
"Is the administration doing what it needs to do to stabilize the market? No, they're doing the opposite," says Kevin Counihan, CEO of the insurance exchange program during the Obama administration.
Trump's biggest weapon by far is refusing to reimburse insurance companies for billions of dollars in payments the law requires them to make to help policyholders with incomes up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level, about $30,015 for an individual and $61,500 for a family of four, afford their deductibles and other out-of-pocket payments. These "cost-sharing subsidies" are being challenged in an ongoing lawsuit filed by Republican House members against Health and Human Services in 2014, and Trump can effectively end them at any time by dropping the suit.
In the long run, the individual market is here to stay. The short-term chaos is designed to disrupt the market in order to reinstitute the very profitable, predatory type of health insurance policies with little to no protections that existed before Obamacare. Under this scenario, healthy people will likely find fairly competitively priced health insurance. People with pre-existing conditions may find affordable insurance, but with exclusions of their pre-existing conditions. Otherwise, they will be priced out of health insurance altogether. Older people can forget about insurance until Medicare coverage kicks in.
Democrats have not done enough to prepare Americans for the price spikes and disruption they will see in 2018 and beyond, and Republicans are very effective at creating and disseminating false counter narratives. So it will be no surprise if the combination of Trump's Russia scandal monopolizing most news media and Republicans’ propensity to lie effectively will ultimately cast the blame on Obamacare and Democrats.
Chris Hayes said what a few progressives have been saying for months now: the Russia story is distracting from issues that are more immediately impactful to middle-class America.
“I think there is a case to be made that Russia right now is helping the Senate pass a health care bill," Hayes said. "They would rather do this in secret with no public scrutiny, with no coverage. Which is what they are doing. And try to flip out a bill in 48 hours and vote on it. And that actually, you say they don't want to be talking about it [Russia]. They would rather talk about this than the health care bill."
Obamacare is in crisis come 2018 because of uncertainty and Trump-led sabotage, and it is getting little coverage in the news. Democrats and progressives need to drive home the correct, accurate narrative.
Obamacare is not failing: the Trump administration is killing it.
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