A study finds that a larger portion of recent Obamacare enrollees are sicker and far more costly to cover. As a result, the insurance industry is seeking yet another series of premium hikes to cover the quickly rising costs.
According to The Washington Post, Obamacare enrollees in Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) had higher instances of diabetes, more propensity for heart disease, and had higher rates of depression than previous, pre-Obamacare members of the plan.
Newer enrollees who came into BCBS through the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) insurance marketplaces, commonly called Obamacare, caused costs to rise 22 percent on average more than plan members who received their insurance through an employer.
“Average monthly medical spending per member was $559 for individual enrollees in 2015, for example, versus $457 for group members,” the Post wrote.
The report is the best evidence to show why premiums have soared and why they are showing no signs of stopping since President Obama’s signature takeover of the nation’s healthcare insurance system was implemented.
Since insurance companies are no longer allowed to deny pre-existing conditions, payouts for medical services have wildly increased, and the study is likely to serve as a basis for the industry to submit its next wave of higher premiums.
Obamacare proponents say the skyrocketing medical costs were fully expected and that the law was written expecting the influx of young people forced to buy insurance to cover the higher costs of service to older, sicker enrollees.
But the bigger problem young people face is that they often have far less income to afford the much higher insurance costs they are now being forced to pay due to the passage of the ACA. Therefore many are not signing up and preferring to pay the tax penalties.
Earlier this year, the National Review relayed a typical example of the costs forced on young people with the story of a 20-something man whose premium went from $175 a month to $225 due to the ACA.
Because of these spiraling costs, people under 35 have lagged in signing up, compared to older ACA enrollees. And while it was recently reported that more young people had begun the enrollment process to avoid the tax penalties in the law, the numbers are still not balancing what is needed to pay the greater costs for the older, sicker plan members already enrolled.
“If participation among young adults had matched their share of the population,” Jed Graham wrote last year, “then 4.8 million young adults would have enrolled — but just 3.25 million selected plans.”
But even that 3.25 million is an inflated number because a large number of younger enrollees never completed signing up and did not end up paying for the new, more expensive healthcare policies.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.