A report released last Friday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed that the number of Obamacare enrollees fell to 8.8 million last year, down from 11.1 million who signed up.
That’s a 25 percent decline. It’s a big deal, and it’s a pattern that is very likely to repeat in 2016.
While no one has a definitive answer as to why the attrition occurred, we can certainly point to a few telling facts.
- For many, the plans weren’t worth it. They featured high deductibles, and constantly rising premiums.
- Some people bought insurance when they knew they had big medical bills, and then dropped coverage when things are paid.
- People dropped plans near the end of the year, because they can receive subsidies for three months.
In other words, we’re learning that “Affordable” health care isn’t so affordable—and even worse, people are being incentivized to game the system. No one denies that our health care system was broken before, and according to Jeffrey Singer, MD, it is unsurprising that government involvement is making it worse. He explains:
A third party—be it the government, a health care plan, or an employer—is picking up the tab. The patient has little concern about a price or cost of a test or a procedure and so is less likely to inquire how necessary it is or to comparison shop. The doctor’s hospitals and pharmacies are also spending the third party’s money, so they have little reason to discuss the cost, price, or urgency of a test or procedure with the patients […] The consumer is cut out of the loop. And the interests of the third party do not necessarily coincide with those of the consumer. That’s why patients who negotiate directly with health providers with no third party intervening usually get better deals. “]
The third-party system unintentionally drove prices up by driving transparency, competition, and consumer involvement out of health care. Unfortunately, policy leaders proposed to fix that system by trying to bring health insurance under one big, centralized third party system, a system that was funded by taxpayers who had no choice but to pay into the system.
With such heavy intervention, individual choice has been even less of a factor in health care, and prices have become even less transparent.
What would it be like if we empowered individuals to negotiate directly with health care providers? What if we finally took the middle man out of the equation instead of introducing even larger impediments?
The possibilities are endless. If you’re ready to tackle our dysfunctional healthcare system by understanding why it’s failing and what we’re doing about it, enroll in our comprehensive On Demand program, America’s Health Care System, featuring Jeffrey Singer, MD, John Ammon, MD, and Bob Graboyes, PhD.