“If you like your health care plan, you can keep it. No one is going to take that away from you.” If you had a nickel for every time Barack Obama made that promise during his campaign to get his health care law passed, you’d have enough to buy coverage in California. And you’ll need it if your current carrier is United Healthcare.
The Los Angeles Times notes:
The nation’s largest health insurer, UnitedHealth Group Inc., is leaving California’s individual health insurance market, the second major company to exit in advance of major changes under the Affordable Care Act.
UnitedHealth said it had notified state regulators that it would leave the state’s individual market at year-end and force about 8,000 customers to find new coverage. Last month, Aetna Inc., the nation’s third-largest health insurer, made a similar move affecting about 50,000 existing policyholders….
The moves illustrate how different companies are responding to a major overhaul of the health insurance market for millions of consumers. Starting Jan. 1, the federal healthcare law forces insurers to accept all individual applicants regardless of their medical history and provide a comprehensive set of benefits with limits on patients’ out-of-pocket spending.
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones told reporters, “I don’t think this is a good result for consumers. It means less choice, less competition and even more consolidation of the individual market with three big carriers.”
The problem facing Californians and residents of the other 56 states is that the federal government can accomplish only so much by resorting to fiat and executive order. In a system of free-market capitalism, the president — we have learned through the malignant experiment that is Obamacare — can decree that purchasing a good or service is a condition of breathing. He can’t, however, force any commercial entity to sell the good or service. Neither can he legitimately force any consumer to buy it.
The cold realities of the Affordable Care Law, as seen through the prism of the still Democrat-dominated Congressional Budget Office (CBO), is that after 10 years of implementation, the plan will still leave 30 million uninsured. The idea of coverage for all, which is bound up with the notion of fairness, was one of the key virtues the White House and Congress sold the American public in its efforts to gain the public trust.
Now, the reality is setting in that 7 million, and as many as 20 million, will lose their employer coverage. In February, the CBO reported:
[I]n 2019 [5 years after Obamacare is implemented], an estimated 12 million people who would have had an offer of employment-based coverage under prior law will lose their offer under current law [aka ‘Obamacare’].
“But that report,” writes Peter Ferrara, Director of Entitlement and Budget Policy for the Heartland Institute, “is just the early breeze of the coming storm. The Obamacare employer mandate requires all employers of 50 or more full time workers to purchase the expensive insurance for those employees that Kathleen Sebelius (‘The Secretary shall determine’) specifies that they must buy. But that mandate is enforced by a penalty of $2,000 per worker, which may be only 10% of the average cost of family coverage under the Sebelius requirements.