Rick Ungar: 'Obamacare' Is Working
Rick Ungar of Forbes is reporting that recent data provided by the nation's largest health insurance companies reveals that a provision of the Affordable Care Act -- "Obamacare" -- is bringing big numbers of the uninsured into the health care insurance system. The uninsured in this study include the sick and the young.
The provision of the law that permits young adults under 26, long the largest uninsured demographic in the country, to remain on their parents' health insurance program resulted in at least 600,000 newly insured Americans during the first quarter of 2011.
Wellpoint, the nation's largest publicly traded health insurer with some 34 million customers, reports adding 280,000 new members in the first three months of 2011.
Add in the results of some of the other large health insurers, including Aetna, who added just short of 100,000 newly insured to their customer base; Kaiser Permanente's additional 90,000; and Highmark's 72,000 new customers, and we begin to sense our health insurance pools are filling up with some badly needed young blood.
The Health & Human Services Department had estimated that the changes in the law would result in about 1.2 million new enrollees in 2011. However, according to Aaron Smith, the executive director of a Washington based nonprofit that advocates for the young, it now looks as if that number will be exceeded.
This is very good news, particularly for those in the individual and small-group markets that tend not to "self-insure" as the larger corporations tend to do.
It is also very good news for those of us who write a large check every month for our health coverage.
For starters, every one of the young immortals we add to the rolls of the insured is one less young adult who will turn to the emergency room to fix a broken leg and then find themselves unable to pay the bill –- leaving it to the rest of us to pay the tab.
And it gets better.
Because the under-26 crowd tends not to get sick, adding them to the insurance pools helps bring the very balance that was intended by the new law. The more healthy people who are available to pay for those in the pool who are ill (translation -- the older people), the better the system works and the lower our premium charges should be.
Health insurance companies are making record profits for the first quarter of 2011. It is not rocket science -- more healthy young people on the rolls bring balance and income. This raises the question of whether health insurance companies should be able to keep that extra money they are pocketing or be forced to hold the line on premiums as a result of their good fortune.
Whatever the case, having more people with insurance is a good thing. Having young people get the medical attention that they need now as opposed to later hopefully means that they will be less sick in the future. The haters and naysayers can continue to label this good news as "Obamacare," as if it's a bad thing, while supporters have concrete proof that affordable health care is working for all Americans, including Republicans.
Read more at Forbes.
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