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What is Success?

May 08, 2014

Recently released Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, enrollment numbers in Nebraska highlight the ongoing disconnect between the state’s political supporters of the law and what’s actually happening on the ground. And that’s not surprising. Disconnect, confusion, and inefficiency have characterized the ObamaCare’s rollout across the nation and Nebraska is no different.

While supporters of Nebraska’s healthcare exchange tout the 42,975 ObamaCare enrollees as proof the President’s law is working for Nebraskans, they may be counting their healthcare chickens before they hatch.

A report released in January of this year by the Kaiser Family Foundation states that the “Affordable Care Act (ACA) has the potential to extend coverage to many of the 47 million nonelderly uninsured people nationwide, including the 234,000 uninsured Nebraskans.” But with each passing day – and each White House delay – that “potential” seems to be moving further and further from reality.

For starters, compare the “success” enjoyed by the Nebraska healthcare exchange in enrolling almost 43,000 to the actual number of uninsured Nebraskans at the beginning of 2014. The 234,000 uninsured Nebraskans cited in Kaiser Family report is well over five times the amount of Nebraskans that actually enrolled in the healthcare exchange. That leaves almost 200,000 Nebraskans that are likely still uninsured, despite the government’s mandated enrollment.

It is also worth noting that the 42,975 enrollee number presented by exchange cheerleaders is far lower than the number of Nebraskans that had their policies cancelled as a result of the President’s healthcare law. For instance, Blue Cross – Blue Shield of Nebraska sent cancellation notices to 46,000 policy holders in Nebraska in the wake of the healthcare law’s enactment. Those 46,000 canceled policies covered a total of 88,000 Nebraskans that were instantly thrown into a state of “healthcare limbo” not knowing if they would be able to afford coverage under the new law.

In addition to the Blue Cross – Blue Shield cancellations, thousands of others lost coverage simply due to healthcare providers pulling out of Nebraska. Reportedly Aetna, American Family Mutual Insurance, Humana, Independence American Insurance Company, Reserve National Insurance Company, Standard Security Life Insurance Company of New York, Companion Life Insurance and United Security Life and Health Insurance all pulled out of Nebraska’s healthcare market with most citing the increased compliance costs under the new law.

Insurance providers in Nebraska however are not the only ones that will likely see costs rise across the board. It is well known that in order for the healthcare exchange to “work” the way Obamacare’s backers want it to, there needs to be a large number of healthy young enrollees to avoid potential skyrocketing healthcare costs. In the numbers released by Nebraska’s healthcare exchange, 43 percent of the 42,975 enrollees are age 45 and over. A key argument of Obamacare’s mandate supporters was that the law would balance the enrollment numbers of older, aging policy holders with young, healthy enrollees, to offset costs. But as the numbers suggest, that isn’t happening.

If enrollment “success” is measured by covering only 1 in every 5 previously uninsured Nebraskans (while thousands of previously insured Nebraskans have their policies cancelled) then residents of the state should be worried. If these statistics are any indication, residents of the Cornhusker state may have a tough row to hoe going forward as thousands remain uninsured and costs look set to rise.

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