30 million Americans may be adversely affected by Obamacare

Rick Moran
Daniel Kessler, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

Start with people who have individual and small-group health insurance. These policies are most affected by ObamaCare's community-rating regulations, which require insurers to accept everyone but limit or ban them from varying premiums based on age or health. The law also mandates "essential" benefits that are far more generous than those currently offered.

According to consultants from Oliver Wyman (who wrote on the issue in the January issue of Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries), around six million of the 19 million people with individual health policies are going to have to pay more--and this even after accounting for the government subsidies offered under the law. For example, single adults age 21-29 earning 300% to 400% of the federal poverty level will be hit with an increase of 46% even after premium assistance from tax credits.

Determining the number of individuals who will be harmed by changes to the small-group insurance market is harder. According to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, around 30 million Americans work in firms with fewer than 50 employees, and so are potentially affected by the small-group "reforms" imposed by ObamaCare.

Around nine million of these people, plus six million family members, are covered by employers who do not self-insure. The premium increases for this group will be less on average than those for people in the individual market but will still be substantial. According to analyses conducted by the insurer WellPoint for 11 states, small-group premiums are expected to increase by 13%-23% on average.

Not all 30 million Americans part of this pool will see premiums increase or lose their coverage. But there are millions more who will be thrown off their employer insurance plans becauise their hours will be cut to less than 30, or the employer will make the economic decision to drop insurance altogether, thus throwing people into the state exchanges where premiums are already skyrocketing.

Then there are the 800,000 jobs that will be lost over the next decade, according to the CBO.

For the rest of America, dealing with those insurance exchanges is going to be a nightmare, as well as trying to qualify for adequate subsidies so that they can pay their premiums. Kessler thinks all of this trouble will spur Congress to either drastically scale back or even repeal the law before the elections next year:

In total, it appears that there will be 30 million to 40 million people damaged in some fashion by the Affordable Care Act--more than one in 10 Americans. When that reality becomes clearer, the law is going to start losing its friends in the media, who are inclined to support the president and his initiatives. We'll hear about innocent victims who saw their premiums skyrocket, who were barred from seeing their usual doctor, who had their hours cut or lost their insurance entirely--all thanks to the faceless bureaucracy administering a federal law.

The allure of the David-versus-Goliath narrative is likely to prove irresistible to the media, raising the pressure on Washington to repeal or dramatically modify the law. With the implementation of ObamaCare beginning to take full force at the end of the year, there will be plenty of time before the 2014 midterm elections for Congress to consider its options.

Sorry, Democrats, but you don't get a do over. You passed this monstrosity. It's your baby. It's the president's "legacy." If you won't own up to making one of the biggest mistakes in Congressional history, the GOP will do it for you.

Daniel Kessler, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

Start with people who have individual and small-group health insurance. These policies are most affected by ObamaCare's community-rating regulations, which require insurers to accept everyone but limit or ban them from varying premiums based on age or health. The law also mandates "essential" benefits that are far more generous than those currently offered.

According to consultants from Oliver Wyman (who wrote on the issue in the January issue of Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries), around six million of the 19 million people with individual health policies are going to have to pay more--and this even after accounting for the government subsidies offered under the law. For example, single adults age 21-29 earning 300% to 400% of the federal poverty level will be hit with an increase of 46% even after premium assistance from tax credits.

Determining the number of individuals who will be harmed by changes to the small-group insurance market is harder. According to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, around 30 million Americans work in firms with fewer than 50 employees, and so are potentially affected by the small-group "reforms" imposed by ObamaCare.

Around nine million of these people, plus six million family members, are covered by employers who do not self-insure. The premium increases for this group will be less on average than those for people in the individual market but will still be substantial. According to analyses conducted by the insurer WellPoint for 11 states, small-group premiums are expected to increase by 13%-23% on average.

Not all 30 million Americans part of this pool will see premiums increase or lose their coverage. But there are millions more who will be thrown off their employer insurance plans becauise their hours will be cut to less than 30, or the employer will make the economic decision to drop insurance altogether, thus throwing people into the state exchanges where premiums are already skyrocketing.

Then there are the 800,000 jobs that will be lost over the next decade, according to the CBO.

For the rest of America, dealing with those insurance exchanges is going to be a nightmare, as well as trying to qualify for adequate subsidies so that they can pay their premiums. Kessler thinks all of this trouble will spur Congress to either drastically scale back or even repeal the law before the elections next year:

In total, it appears that there will be 30 million to 40 million people damaged in some fashion by the Affordable Care Act--more than one in 10 Americans. When that reality becomes clearer, the law is going to start losing its friends in the media, who are inclined to support the president and his initiatives. We'll hear about innocent victims who saw their premiums skyrocket, who were barred from seeing their usual doctor, who had their hours cut or lost their insurance entirely--all thanks to the faceless bureaucracy administering a federal law.

The allure of the David-versus-Goliath narrative is likely to prove irresistible to the media, raising the pressure on Washington to repeal or dramatically modify the law. With the implementation of ObamaCare beginning to take full force at the end of the year, there will be plenty of time before the 2014 midterm elections for Congress to consider its options.

Sorry, Democrats, but you don't get a do over. You passed this monstrosity. It's your baby. It's the president's "legacy." If you won't own up to making one of the biggest mistakes in Congressional history, the GOP will do it for you.