Many ObamaCare Customers Down to One Provider As Insurance Companies Pull Out

Jason Reed/Reuters

The Wall Street Journal notes that the exodus of insurance companies from the collapsing ObamaCare system leaves many rural customers with only a single provider option. This effectively turns ObamaCare into a state mandated monopoly, where the government forces citizens to buy products from a single private-sector corporation with no competitors whatsoever – just like the Founding Fathers intended!

“The entire states of Alaska and Alabama are expected to have only one insurer on the health law’s signature online marketplaces next year, according to state regulators,” writes the Journal. “The same is expected to be true in parts of several other states, including Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arizona and Oklahoma, state regulators said.”

That means more than 650 counties across the nation will have only a single insurance provider on their ObamaCare exchanges in 2017, a dramatic increase from 225 counties in 2016. 70 percent of those counties have mostly rural populations, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

And it could get even worse, because “disclosures of new market entries or further pullbacks will change the totals in coming months.” Holding your breath waiting for a significant number of new entries to the ObamaCare marketplace is medically inadvisable. Even some of the companies announcing vague plans to move into states vacated by departing giants like UnitedHealth are explicitly stating they’ll stay out of rural counties.

The Wall Street Journal quotes an ObamaCare enrollee, bookkeeper Kori Allen of Kodiak, Alaska, who will lose her existing health insurance plan when her provider pulls out of the local network this year: “It’s going to be a monopoly, basically; ‘here’s the price, take it or leave it.’”

It might even be worse than that, because the remaining provider in Allen’s network, Premara Blue Cross, doesn’t sound terribly enthusiastic about the future of ObamaCare. “We have been working very closely with regulators and legislators to establish a long-term solution to make the market more sustainable and attract more insurers to the state,” said a company representative.

The Journal then quotes a Department of Health and Human Services official who admits HHS “would expect a rise in one-issuer counties” next year, but they’re “pretty confident” there won’t be any ACA marketplaces with zero providers… although they “couldn’t completely rule out the possibility.”

None of this was “expected” at all. We were promised repeatedly that ObamaCare would bring choice, innovation, and reduced premiums. Instead, we’ve got markets collapsing down to monopolies people are required by law to do business with, unless they want the IRS on their case.

Even the charlatans of the Obama Administration are beginning to nervously admit that insurance premiums – already sky-high after the Affordable Care Act, paired with mind-blowing out-of-pocket expenses for the poor souls who actually try to use their overpriced insurance – will get even worse, now that the power of competition is vanishing from networks that offer only a single provider “choice.”

President Obama told the biggest lie in modern political history when he promised, dozens of times, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” Now it turns out even his ObamaCare clients can’t keep their taxpayer-subsidized plans if they like them, because insurance providers are bailing out of the system in droves.

The Journal notes that some of the Affordable Care Act marketplace collapse is due to the actual providers of medicine being unwilling to work out deals with insurance providers, a problem said to be particularly intractable in rural areas. Insurance executives say this is because rural residents tend to be less healthy, and the cost of delivering health care to them is higher.

Somehow the geniuses who cooked up ObamaCare didn’t foresee those factors, even though it’s spoken of as common knowledge by insurance providers and medical professionals who service rural areas. Now we get to watch Obama and his commissars act like they’re stunned that hundreds of counties across the land have only a single provider, and we might not be far from the first batch of counties with no providers.

The optimistic take on this disaster is that ObamaCare’s designers were idiots, who spent very little time wondering how Americans would respond to their rickety system with the diminished marketplace freedom remaining to them.  The pessimistic take is that ACA marketplaces with one, or zero, providers will be battlespace preparation for the big single-payer socialized medicine push to come. Give rural voters a few years under the thumb of monopolistic providers, and their resistance to a complete government takeover of medicine will be greatly reduced.


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