Bob Laszewski is a health industry analyst and expert who has been one of Obamacare’s toughest critics over the past several months. He was the person who suggested healthcare.gov was in defacto shutdown back in October when the White House was still encouraging people to continue trying to sign up.
While some were reporting a November surge in enrollment, Laszewski was pointing out that enrollment still looked like a net negative. More recently he revealed that 10-20 percent of the people the White House calls “enrollees” would probably never pay their first premium.
Given his general skepticism of some of the happy talk coming from the administration I wondered what he would say about today’s downgrade of the U.S. insurance industries outlook (from stable to negative) by Moody’s. He responded this afternoon saying “I am actually surprised by this.”
“The carriers have been more irritated regarding all of the taxes and Obama administration shenanigans than concerned about the bottom line. As the Aetna CEO said at Davos, the exchange business is a very small part of their portfolio and any exchange results won’t even be ‘material'”
Laszewski concluded by sending a link to this Wonkblog story, saying “The remarks in this article accurately reflect what execs are telling me privately.” If you look at the story by Sarah Kliff, it defintely sounds as if the industry isn’t terribly worried about losing money in the near term. That’s not because Obamacare is going smoothly but because the individual market is still a fairly small part of their overall business.
So, Moody’s set a negative outlook because of Obamacare but industry insiders still believe losses (if they happen) will be contained to a small portion of their portfolio.