Sometime in 2011 I realized that it was a better deal for me to deal directly with a health insurance company and purchase my own plan. As a thirty-something healthy male, I don’t use my health insurance often. My employer’s plan was expensive, and had coverage I didn’t really need. I ended up saving a couple hundred bucks a month. The best part about the insurance plan? It was ACA compliant, so it wasn’t susceptible to cancellation when the insurance exchanges rolled out in 2014.
I spoke with many friends and acquaintances, mostly young males, who had their plans axed that year. The policies were very similar to mine in every aspect; coverage, deductible, and premium, and their new plans were sometimes over triple the price. President Obama, ignorant of how his own insurance reform worked, initially blamed “bad apple” insurers for cancellations. As owners of cancelled policies became more vocal about not just their cancellations, but the higher rates of new plans, Obama was forced to apologize for lying to Americans about being able to keep their health plans. So after the rollout, I constantly wondered to myself… given my comparably low premiums, why hasn’t MY Plan been cancelled yet? Only recently did I realize the truth.
I’m reasonably certain the only reason why my insurer hasn’t cancelled my policy despite similar policies being much more expensive is that they fear they will lose me as a customer. They figure a young, healthy male will either find a cheaper, inferior policy, or forgo coverage entirely. All those friends and acquaintances of mine with non-ACA complaint insurance that had their policies cancelled? A lot of them didn’t even bother to repurchase insurance; they paid the penalty because it was cheaper. If they get hurt or sick, they could THEN sign up for health insurance, because Obamacare made pricing on pre-existing conditions illegal. They figure they’ll just pay the price of a policy whenever they actually need it, not a second before.
This is a genius way to game the system, if you’re willing to do it. Plenty of liberal outlets will say sicker customers simply are a result of the rollout, but none of them can explain the number of people forgoing coverage, or the fact that a massive percentage of those who aren’t covered are young, healthy males. But it is only one way people are gaming Obamacare; insurers are losing big time on exchange policies. The majority of the policyholders are sick or injured, and a high percentage of people aren’t paying their premiums despite using their coverage. For years, health insurance companies have been behaving like Popcopy and giving customers a raw deal on their products, so no one feels bad if the health insurance company is the one getting screwed this time around.
I already see my insurance premiums as “dead money” and really only have it in case of emergency. I’ve only had to visit the doctor a couple times with this insurance, have always walked out with a fat pre-deductible bill, and never hit my deductible. In other words, my health insurance has provided me with almost nothing. Think of everyone like me who had a similar policy that was cancelled; who would want to pay 200-300% or more in premiums for a “service” they hardly use? And of course, this doesn’t even factor in the number of young who are poor or underprivileged, who never had health insurance, and have no idea how to buy a product in which they oftentimes don’t even want, subsidized or not.
And there you have it – the exact age group that is needed to buy insurance to keep the exchanges afloat has more reason than ever to not purchase insurance, even when facing a financial penalty. Worse yet, the sicker individuals, who are more expensive to insure, pay the same premiums as a comparably-aged healthy individual. Who really expects any healthy individual in my demographic to think this is anything but a terrible deal?
It all makes Obamacare just another in a long line of failures of government-sponsored private enterprise. My recent article on the rolldown of private prisons is an example of where the private entity profits, bilking the state for every dollar it can get at the expense of the taxpayers. Written in part by the insurance companies themselves, Obamacare was expected to function in a similar fashion, but it seems that everyone who wrote the ACA didn’t factor in rational self-interest, or people opting not to purchase insurance into its pricing. Even the insurance companies had to “pass it to find out what was in it”.
I’m currently satisfied with my pre-2014 insurance policy and the rate I pay, but I will also not be surprised if it is cancelled in the near future. My policy can no longer be replaced on an exchange (my insurer is one that dropped its policies from the exchanges). Even if it could, it would be at least double the price. If and when my plan is cancelled, I will have to calculate whether it is worth it or not for me to purchase health insurance or “purchase” my right to not purchase health insurance (pay the penalty).
And that is the shocking part of my whole ACA experience: the fact that a thirty-something healthy male, who can afford his premiums, is even considering going without health insurance. My demographic’s willingness to pay its premiums and receive nothing in return is essential to the exchange’s survival. This pricing structure that Obamacare has created will be what ultimately dooms the exchanges and all privately purchased health insurance.
One more shocker? That it took me this long to realize why my policy hadn’t been cancelled yet.
Note: Mike Krieger at Liberty Blitzkrieg has published excellent content on the recent failures of Obamacare – I strongly suggest you read his most recent article on the ACA’s unraveling.