Congressional Republicans have been trying to repeal Barack Obama’s “signature” health care legislation from day one, but economics may be what finally does it in.
Obamacare was off to a messy start from the get-go. The healthcare.gov website was plagued with issues, and only 1 percent of people who actually wanted to were able to sign up within the first week. The product isn’t much better than the website.
As of today, thirteen of the twenty-three Obamacare co-ops (nonprofit insurance companies created by the law) had failed, forcing 730,000 off of their coverage. $2.4 billion in taxpayer loans was spent setting up these co-ops, which have returned a grand total of one million dollars back to the Federal government. Obamacare is losing its “franchises,” and with them, its customers.
Will anyone ever admit that Obamacare has failed? The Associated Press and CBS New York reported last night that just a few months after the Obama administration bragged about enrolling 12.7 million people through the Obamacare exchanges for 2016 — still far below initial projections for Year Three — 1.6 million people dropped out after the first quarter. The 13 percent decline sets the levels back close to last year’s levels of enrollment.
Recall that even the initial levels of enrollment only went half-way to initial projections. In March, Brian Blase reminded readers at Forbes of the projections from both government and private analyses for enrollment by the 2016 term. He also predicted the retreat:
When the ACA passed in 2010, government and private research organizations projected between 21 and 27 million exchange enrollees in 2016. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected 21 million enrollees, the Urban Institute projected 23.1 million, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projected 24.8 million, and the Rand Corporation projected 27 million.
During this year’s open enrollment, 12.7 million people selected plans. Since many people who select plans fail to effectuate enrollment by paying premiums and there was large attrition in net exchange enrollment during both 2014 and 2015, there will likely only be about 10 million exchange enrollees by the end of the year and only about 11 million enrollees, on average, in 2016.
So what contributed to the decline? Most people just decided it would be better for themselves to pay the fine for not having insurance than to purchase insurance through Obamacare. The penalty for not having insurance this year has been hiked to the greater of $695 or 2.5 percent of gross income, and yet people are still ditching Obamacare.
Isn’t about time the country ditches it once and for all? Congress can’t seem to act, but the whole thing may simply collapse under its own weight all by itself.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]