Investor's Business Daily
For years, ObamaCare critics focused on its least popular feature -- the mandate that everyone buy insurance -- taking their fight all the way to the Supreme Court.
But as ObamaCare's official launch date approaches, even its backers are beginning to admit that the law could actually create powerful incentives for millions of people and thousands of businesses to drop their coverage, despite the mandate.
There is growing concern, for example, that the law's market reforms will cause a huge "rate shock," particularly for those young and healthy.
A February survey of major health insurance companies in five cities across the country found that they expect premiums for this group to climb an average 169%.
Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said late last year that he expects premiums to double for some small businesses and some individuals as a result of the law.
And state insurance commissioners are worried as well.
"We are very concerned," California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones told federal health officials at a December meeting, "if there is so much rate shock for young people that they're bound not to purchase (health insurance) at all."
The cause of this rate shock is simple: ObamaCare imposes what is called "community rating" on insurance companies, effectively forcing them to charge the young and healthy more so they can charge older and sicker consumers less.
The five-city survey, for example, found that while the law will jack up rates for the young, it will lower them an average 22% for older and sicker customers.
At the same time, ObamaCare also forbids insurance companies from turning anyone down -- a reform called "guaranteed issue" -- which also will provide an incentive for some to drop coverage, knowing they can get it back any time.
"Even with the tax penalty...some healthy people would avoid purchasing coverage until they are sick," Howard Shapiro, director of public policy at the Alliance of Community Health Plans, told regulators .
The problem is that if the young and healthy drop coverage, the result would be what the industry calls a "death spiral." Premiums will climb as the pool of insured gets sicker, causing still more to cancel their policies.
This is just what happened in states that imposed strict community rating and guaranteed issue reforms in the past. In fact, of the eight states that did so, most ended up either dropping the reforms or loosening the rules after they saw enrollment decline and premiums climb.
ObamaCare backers say the law's subsidies will keep premium costs down, while the mandate to buy insurance will keep the young and healthy in the market.
But even they admit that the subsidies won't protect everyone from ObamaCare-caused rate shocks, and the mandate is likely to prove too weak to be very effective.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 02/19/2013
The BasicsProject.org informational and educational pamphlet series is now available for Kindle and iPad. Click here to find out more...
The New Media Journal and BasicsProject.org are not funded by outside sources. We exist exclusively on tax deductible donations from our readers and contributors.
Please make a tax deductible donation today.