Blue Cross Blue Shield Confirms Obamacare Death Spiral
By John R. Graham • Monday April 4, 2016 10:36 AM PST •
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, which represents 36 Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans covering 105 million Americans, has just released a study of its members’ claims data in Obamacare exchanges 2014 and 2015. It confirms that Obamacare exchange enrollees are sicker and more expensive than enrollees in pre-Obamacare individual plans or employer-based plans. Here I quote four of the study’s findings:
- Members who newly enrolled in BCBS individual health plans in 2014 and 2015 have higher rates of certain diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, coronary artery disease, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Hepatitis C than individuals who had BCBS individual coverage prior to health-care reform.
- Consumers who newly enrolled in BCBS individual health plans in 2014 and 2015 received significantly more medical care, on average, than those with BCBS individual plans prior to 2014 who maintained BCBS individual health coverage into 2015, as well as those with BCBS employer-based group health insurance.
- The new enrollees used more medical services across all sites of care—including inpatient admissions, outpatient visits, medical professional services, prescriptions filled and emergency room visits.
- Medical costs of care for the new individual market members were, on average, 19 percent higher than employer-based group members in 2014 and 22 percent higher in 2015. For example, the average monthly medical spending per member was $559 for individual enrollees versus $457 for group members in 2015.
These health plans have not done a great job containing costs in employer-based health plans, either. Those policies’ average monthly health spending increased 8 percent in the first nine months of 2015 versus 2014. However, costs in individual policies increased 12 percent, half again as much. This means the gap in medical spending between the two markets is increasing.
It is understandable that the newly Obamacare-insured would be more expensive than those in employer-based group plans or in the pre-Obamacare individual market. Under Obamacare, people can get coverage without underwriting for health status. So, the sicker people showed up for coverage under Obamacare.
What is surprising is that the problem got worse in the second year of coverage. When combined with enrollment data showing one-quarter of Obamacare enrollees in 2015 dropped out during the year, this supports the case that Obamacare exchanges are not the properly functioning health insurance markets the president promised in 2010, but are effectively just pools for very expensive patients who sign up when they think they will need care and then drop out after consuming it.
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For the pivotal alternative to Obamacare, please see Independent Institute’s book, A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America, by John C. Goodman