Obamacare Customer Complaints to Health Insurance Companies Growing
As the Obama administration touts the "success" of Obamacare, industry analysts are finding that costs are rising not falling, the real number of newly insured Americans are half of what Obama claims, and as customers learn about their new, government approved policies, they are increasingly complaining to insurance companies about how unhappy they are with the coverage.
For The Daily Signal, investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson took a long look at Obamacare enrollment as it now stands and found that the whole scheme leaves much to be desired. Worse, despite Obama's rosy claims about his one big achievement in office, she found that trend lines do not look any better for the future. However, she warned that it will take years to "play out."
Attkisson also found that healthcare insurance customers don't need to wait for future events to learn how unsatisfactory Obamacare is. Citing health policy analyst Robert Laszewski, Attkisson reported that insurance companies are being hit with higher rates of complaints from customers who have discovered that their new policies are not what they had hoped.
"A lot of dissatisfaction is being communicated from consumers to insurance company call centers and their agents about the new health insurance plans, particularly compared to the plans people are used to," Laszewski told Attkisson.
Attkisson notes that this increasing rate of complaints corresponds to a recent Gallup poll that shows that "51 percent of respondents disapprove of the health care law" while only 43 percent approve.
But dismal approval ratings and falling customer satisfaction are the least of Obamacare's worries. The facts show that the law is a failure, with less than 4 million of those newly enrolled being previously uninsured. This means that very few of the "30 million" uninsured that Obama claimed he was going to help have gained insurance under Obamacre.
Obama has claimed that 8 million have become insured, one million more than the 7 million he targeted for coverage. He has also claimed that the costs have come under expected levels. Both claims appear specious.
As Attkisson points out, of that 8 million upwards to 20 percent never paid a premium, meaning they never actually got any insurance and shouldn't be counted in the tally.
"The actual number of Obamacare enrollees as of March 31 was likely between 6.4 million and 6.8 million, below both the administration’s figure of 8 million and its stated target of 7 million," she writes.
But that isn't the half of it. Obama has made it seem as if his 8 million enrollees are all first-time insurance customers. This is also untrue. "A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 43 percent of those who purchased insurance through the marketplace already had insurance; 57 percent are newly insured," Attkisson says.
The real tally is damning.
Assuming the most positive estimates--that 85 percent of the 8 million enrollees have paid their premiums and 43 percent had coverage before--the newly insured would number only about 3.9 million. By this time, CBO had projected 19 million would have been removed from the ranks of the uninsured, and CMS predicted 26 million.
3.9 million is a far cry from the 8 million of Obama's claims.
Then comes the cost. For most Americans, healthcare costs will rise, not fall as Obama has claimed.
Attkisson went on, saying, "Avalere, a health care advisory group, looked at nine states and found premium increases this year of 2.5 percent to 16 percent."
Laszewski, whose predictions have proven uncannily accurate, estimates the average cost of premiums for Americans will go up 9.9 percent next year, or just under the threshold that triggers a regulatory review under federal guidelines. He said insurers will not have adequate claims data by the time 2015 rates are due at the end of this week, so they will push rate increases to near the limit.
But more troublesome are the costs of the government subsidies and the costs of expanding Medicaid.
"CMS estimates Medicaid will get 8.6 million new enrollees in 2014, thanks to Obamacare. Twenty-six states have expanded Medicaid, but if all did, spending by states would increase 26 percent--or $952 billion--from 2013 to 2022," Attkisson reported.
With most state budgets in deficit numbers, where will all this money come from?
Still, Obama has put out a "fact sheet" claiming that Obamacare is reducing healthcare spending and leading to lower costs for the government. But the info is lacking key facts.
And despite claims from the White House that Obamacare will decrease the deficit and lower spending, "Obamacare is estimated to increase federal spending by $1.383 trillion over 10 years," Attkisson said.
But what the fact sheet did not point out, as a source told The Daily Signal, was that this "remarkable situation was also the case in 2008 and 2009, before the ACA was enacted. It’s highly misleading to imply that it results from the ACA. Most experts attribute most of the slower cost growth to the Great Recession and weak economic growth since then."
Attkisson had far more information in her long report, but it all seems to add up to a giant failure, one that will continue to get worse into the future.
Source: Sharyl Attkisson writing at the Daily Signal.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.