The Presidential election is less than four weeks away. The third Presidential debate is less than a week away. One topic that seems conspicuously absent from discussions is health care. On Jan. 1, 2017, Iowans that have individual (as opposed to group) Affordable Care Act-compliant plans with Wellmark are getting a 40-percent increase over their prior year cost – 40 percent!
Wellmark lost $100,000,000 (that is one hundred million dollars) over the course of 2015 and 2016 insuring 30,000 ACA members in the state of Iowa. These 30,000 represent about 1 percent of Iowans. Wellmark has withdrawn from the individual marketplace in South Dakota for 2017. They have not made a decision on Iowa yet for 2018 but if I were a betting man my money would be on their departure from the Iowa Individual marketplace in 2018. In Iowa, the Affordable Care Act increases for Wellmark for 2015, 2016 and 2017 have been 14 percent, 26 percent and 40 percent, respectively. United Healthcare is withdrawing from markets all over the country. How is ACA sustainable, you ask?
As health insurers pull out of markets, lack of access to care will become a crippling reality. People will not be able to afford insurance (or find it, for that matter) and providers will see only those patients that either have insurance or those who can afford private pay. Once all of the private insurers have left the market, our healthcare will become one great big social program just like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Our elected officials – Congress – passed the ACA, a 2000-page piece of legislation without even knowing what was in it much less how to implement it.
I am all for quality health care but there is no free lunch. Building into ACA all of the “Minimum Essential Health Benefits” does not come without a cost. Someone pays. We all pay. Consumers pay in the form of higher premiums. Providers pay in the form of reduced compensation for services. Insurers pay through operating losses and we all pay, including future generations, in the form of a staggering and increasing national debt.
Before politicians go promising more social freebies they need to first figure out how to pay for them. Free is a very misleading term – as is “affordable.”
Chris Vens, president of Core-Vens Insurance