The Slow Unraveling of Obamacare Continues

Obamacare represents, I think, the first time that the Obama administration has actually had to face reality. The stimulus was a disaster, but most people don’t care much about wasting borrowed money. Green energy has been a fiasco, but hey–it’s only money, and half the population doesn’t pay income taxes. Obama’s foreign policy has been an utter failure, but foreign policy mistakes take time to come home to roost. There have been many other failures, but the press has largely managed to cover them up, or at least minimize them.

In the case of Obamacare, that simply can’t be done. Obamacare is a rolling disaster that will continue to unfold, inexorably, over the coming year. Today’s installment comes from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, reporting on the demographics of MNSure, Minnesota’s Obamacare plan: “MNsure is counting on the young signing up, but typical enrollee is 50.” Heh.

As the deadline nears for Minnesotans to purchase health insurance for 2014 on MNsure, an unsettling question remains: Will young, healthy people sign up on the online exchange and infuse plans with the premium revenues they need to pay for all the older, sicker people?

This is relatively candid: can young people be wheedled or coerced into paying way too much for health insurance? That has always been one of the key questions about Obamacare. You can understand why Obama was optimistic: he fooled young people twice, why not fool them again? The difference is that this time, the connection to their pocketbook is obvious.

Through November, half of the enrollees who bought private health plans on MNsure were between the ages of 51 to 64, even though that age group makes up only 21 percent of the state’s non-elderly population. That was hardly the plan when the exchange was created under the federal Affordable Care Act to cover uninsured Minnesotans and improve benefit options for sick and self-employed people who didn’t have workplace benefits.

Private plans on the exchange generally set premiums with the expectation that the median age of enrollees would be closer to 40, which is what they typically saw in the plans they sold on the individual market in past years. The current median age of MNsure enrollees is 50.

“That’s kind of scary,” said Scott Keefer, vice president of policy and legislative affairs for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

Scary, if you actually want this cockeyed Rube Goldberg system to work. To the extent that the pool of enrollees is worse (older or sicker) than predicted, premiums will rise next year and the year after, which will drive more healthy people out of the system and accelerate its inevitable collapse.

It turns out that Minnesota isn’t the only state where the demographics (which is to say, the economics) of Obamacare are not working out as planned:

Nine states with their own insurance exchanges under federal reform have published data showing the age ranges of the enrollees, and most of them are like Minnesota in that they are lacking younger people so far.

Young people, in general, may not be quite as stupid as the Democrats thought.

In another worrisome development–worrisome if you actually thought Obamacare had any chance of working–most people are buying cheaper Obamacare policies than government planners anticipated. The Associated Press headlines: “In ominous sign, many health plan buyers are just picking the cheapest.” Imagine that!

As a key enrollment deadline hits Monday, many people without health insurance have been sizing up policies on the new government health care marketplace and making what seems like a logical choice: They’re picking the cheapest one.

Increasingly, experts in health insurance are becoming concerned that many of these first-time buyers will be in for a shock when they get medical care next year and discover they’re on the hook for most of the initial cost.

So there isn’t any free lunch…imagine that!

Obamacare is illogical. It cannot work. It is like a Soviet five-year plan. Bureaucrats can dictate whatever they want, but their dictates will not produce the desired reality. Obamacare is doomed, as many of us knew from the start.

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