Political Editors / May 9, 2016

ObamaCare’s Retreat From Affordability

The next grand exodus might be the bronze-level plans.

Insurance providers UnitedHealth and Humana are admitting what most conservatives have realized for over a half-decade: The ObamaCare system is too bloated and regulation-heavy. Eventually, it will fail. United announced it was leaving most of the ObamaCare exchanges, and Humana said it will consider leaving too, for the two companies have been losing money. But the fact that health insurance companies don’t want to play in a system where consumers are forced to buy their product is a good sign to the Washington Post editorial board. “United’s selective exit from ACA marketplaces appears to reflect two positive features of the law,” the board opined. “First, Obamacare was meant to spur competition among insurance companies, thus constraining premiums … Second, the law has curtailed many of the ways that insurers used to contain their costs, such as refusing to cover certain people or certain treatments, or jacking up premiums for older customers.”

This is hardly free market competition we’re talking about here. But as market forces demand: Insurers must contain their costs. The next grand exodus by the insurance companies from the ObamaCare exchanges might be the bronze-level plans. A Virginian subsidiary of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield is considering upgrading all its bronze plans to silver plans next year. Apparently the entry-level plans that cost-concerned Americans who are young and healthy take are eating away at health companies’ bottom line. What happens to the exchanges when those young ‘n’ healthy — the folks that were supposed to keep this whole health system afloat — decide to pay extra in taxes than buy into a rigged system with ever-increasing premiums? It’s just one more step toward the tipping point of failure.

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