CMS Official on Obamacare Exchanges: ‘Let’s Just Make Sure It’s Not a Third-World Experience’
March 23, 2013 - 5:32 am
Officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently huddled with insurance lobbyists and executives at a conference to discuss the implementation of Obamacare, and the bureaucrats made some surprising — and alarming — comments about the insurance exchanges that the government will be setting up for 32 states.
They’re not going to be ready by the October 1 deadline.
So, they’re late, right? It’s not like anyone in the Obama administration is on time for anything. The president himself is going to be two months late presenting his budget.
But as Avik Roy writing in Forbes tells us, that’s the least of our problems. He quotes CMS information officer Henry Chao:
“The time for debating about the size of the text on the screen, or the color, or is it a world-class user experience, that’s what we used to talk about two years ago,” said Chao. “Let’s just make sure it’s not a third-world experience.”
Roy then lists reasons why the implementation of Obamacare is going to be an expensive clusterfark:
The real problem is that the blizzard of mandates and regulations that accompany Obamacare’s exchanges will force many people to buy far costlier insurance than they’ve had to in the past. “In some markets,” said Aetna’s CEO, Mark Bertolini, insurance premiums could increase “as high as 100 percent. And we’ve done all that math. We’ve shared it with all the regulators. We’ve shared it with all the people in Washington that need to see it. And I think it’s a big concern.” Privately and publicly, most of Bertolini’s peers at UnitedHealth, WellPoint, Humana, and Cigna have said the same thing.
What will cause the rate shock? A number of things. First, Obamacare forces young people to pay far more for health insurance, in order to mildly subsidize premiums for those in their early 60s, using a provision called “community rating.” Second, the law forces insurance plans to have a higher “minimum actuarial value,” which makes plans more financially generous but also more expensive.
Third, the law’s famous “guaranteed issue” provision forces insurers to take all comers, even if they are already sick: a great deal for the sick, but not for the healthy. Fourth, the law gives HHS the power to force insurance plans to contain all sorts of extra benefits that customers wouldn’t otherwise pay for, driving up the cost of those plans.
Fifth, the law contains an utterly nonsensical premium tax that insurers will be forced to pay, and pass on to their customers in the form of higher premiums. It also contains taxes on pharmaceuticals and medical devices that will also be passed on in the form of higher premiums.
Remember when the president told the American people that Obamacare would make insurance more affordable, and make it as easy as surfing Expedia or Travelocity to find a policy?
Not going to happen. Just one more aspect of Obamacare that was oversold in order to pass it.