When the computer system running your signature legislative achievement is slightly less functional than painting on a cave wall, you know you have a big problem. When that’s actually the good news, you know you have a really big problem.
Obamacare’s computer glitches have reduced the president’s eponymic health-care plan to fodder for late-night TV comedians. But in some ways the president is fortunate that the computer fiasco is obscuring the even bigger and more consequential problems facing the law.
For example, there’s the problem with keeping your current insurance. Despite presidential promises to the contrary — promises that, according to NBC News, the president knew were untrue — millions of Americans are finding out that, even if they like the plans they have now, they are being kicked off because those plans do not meet the requirements of Obamacare.
“The software problems of Healthcare.gov obscure much bigger structural disasters.”
Florida Blue, for example, is canceling nearly 300,000 policies, about 80 percent of its individual policies in the state. Kaiser Permanente in California has sent notices to 160,000 people — about half of its individual business in the state. Highmark in Pittsburgh is dropping about 20 percent of its individual-market customers, while Independence Blue Cross, the major insurer in Philadelphia, is dropping about 45 percent. That makes for more than 500,000 people losing their insurance policies in just three states.
In fact, roughly half of the 14 million people who buy insurance on the individual market are likely to lose their current insurance, according to Gerry Kominski, director of UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research. And while most will be shifted to other policies, those new policies are likely to be more expensive.
Meanwhile, in the group market, we are seeing companies begin to drop insurance for their workers. Roughly 160,000 workers at Walgreens are losing their coverage. So are some 20,000 part-time workers at Home Depot, and roughly 15,000 spouses of workers at UPS. Some estimates suggest that as many as 35 million workers could lose their current employer plan. Many will be forced into the exchanges, where insurance will cost them more. (Always assuming, of course, that they can find a way to actually purchase those plans.)
Michael D. Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, heading research into a variety of domestic policies with particular emphasis on health care reform, welfare policy, and Social Security. His most recent white paper, "Bad Medicine: A Guide to the Real Costs and Consequences of the New Health Care Law," provides a detailed examination of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and what it means to taxpayers, workers, physicians, and patients.
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