Friday, March 25, 2011

Obamacare Pre-Existing Coverage Not Much Needed

One of the main emotional selling points of Obamacare was that now millions with pre-existing conditions could get coverage previously denied to them. A 2010 American Medical Association report said:
"Although the state high-risk programs serve about 200,000 people, many more might qualify. The GAO report estimated that 4 million people could meet the state coverage standards. This year alone, 375,000 people might obtain high-risk coverage under the federal program, according to an analysis released in December 2009 by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Chief Actuary Rick Foster."
It would be a real problem if only 5% (200,000) of the estimated 4 million with pre-existing conditions had access to medical coverage. Surely, a mere 10% of them (375,000) would jump at the chance for coverage. States were "deluged with high risk pool interest". Apparently only "interest" and not applications.

The coverage began July 1, 2010, but as of February, 2011, enrollment "still lags" according to the headline of a The Hill article. "Lags" is a bit understated. Though 375,000 enrollees were expected, only 12,000 showed up. That's only 3% of those expected to enroll in the first 6 months. And less than a third of 1% of the additional 4 million supposedly needing help.
"Enrollment in new high-risk insurance pools created by healthcare reform is up 50 percent over the past three months, but participation is still far behind original projections, according to new administration figures released Thursday.

"More than 12,000 individuals are enrolled in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, up from 8,000 a few months ago, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

"The Medicare actuary had originally predicted the new pools, created for individuals who cannot obtain coverage because of preexisting conditions, would enroll 375,000 people by the end of 2010, but high enrollment costs have frequently been cited for keeping people away."
High enrollment costs? Isn't that what the initial $5 billion allocated to the program was supposed to help with? That would have been $13,300 (more than $1,000/mo) for each enrollee if the 375,000 had signed up and were looking at the projected $140 to $900 monthly premiums. AP/CBS:
"President Barack Obama's new health coverage for uninsured people with health problems won't be cheap--monthly premiums as high as $900, administration officials said Wednesday.

"Prices will vary by state and type of coverage from a low of $140 a month to as much as $900, said Richard Popper, deputy director of a new insurance office at the federal Health and Human Services department."
As is the $5 billion averages out to over $400,000 each for the 12,000 who have signed up. The CBO initially had concerns about the $5 billion running out.
"At this point, therefore, CBO can provide only a preliminary range of
estimates reflecting some assumptions about an uncapped program’s
specifications. If the program covered about 65 percent of enrollees’ costs
for health care, federal spending through 2013 would probably fall between
$10 billion and $15 billion—or $5 billion to $10 billion more than the cap
specified in PPACA. Total enrollment in the federal high-risk pool program
would be expected to grow from roughly 400,000 in 2011 to about 600,000
or 700,000 in 2013."
Not to worry.

It seems that pre-existing conditions aren't that big a problem. Instead of revamping US health care, why not just cut everything but the $5 billion and fund current state high-risk pools to cover the 12,000 new enrollees and help the 200,000 previously enrolled in state plans?


OregonGuy said...

Because it's not about medicine at all. It's about government jobs.

T. D. said...

And a political vision of what society should look like--irrespective of what society really is like.

Good to have you back in the blogging seat.