A recent Gallup poll – confirmed by an Industry Health Exchanges report – of 20,000 people exposes some significant and troubling facts about the ACA. (Note that the ACA was recently instated, so this poll shows possible initial trends rather than established behavior. Still, it looks pretty grim.)
Of the ACA enrollees, less than 40% described themselves as being in good/excellent health, compared to the roughly 50% of the general population. It can be reasonably expected that these people will contribute significantly to a net flow of funds out of the system. That is what healthcare is for, after all: to treat illnesses and promote health.
A bit over 40% of ACA enrollees reported less than $24,000 yearly income. These people will likely need tax credits in order to pay for their policies, and the high premiums of the ACA plans are certain to cause an economic burden on them. This is a very important point: these are not the droves of young, healthy individuals that are necessary te ensure the success of the ACA.
Also disturbing: according to reports from Express Scripts and Prime Therapeutics, the ACA enrollees seem to be consuming a disproportionate amount of “specialty drugs” (which are typically very high cost) than the general populace, and have applied for about twice as many 90-day prescriptions as non-ACA members. Now this is all new data on a new plan with new members: a lot of this may be due to people simply taking advantage of a new opportunity. Still, this is a lot of money flowing out, and not a lot flowing in – not a good sign for the long-term success of the ACA.
And from the Gallup poll: only a relatively small percentage did not previously have coverage. This supports an earlier RAND report that was criticized for having too small of a data set. These findings are in line with the recently released CBO report, which in effect predicted that by the year 2024, there will be roughly the same number of uninsured Americans as there were before the inception of the ACA. (This report was recently amended, and the numbers aren’t as bad as the initial findings, but they’re still really, really bad. Sort of like, the ship is sinking, but not as fast as originally thought.)
Not reported by Gallup was the number of people who lost insurance due to the ACA.
So the ACA needs the enrollment of a large number of healthy individuals of some financial means, people whose premiums can fund those who need to use the services. This doesn’t seem to be happening and, unless a new course is charted, is not likely to change. Although this administration recently touted the success of 7.5 million enrollees (of the 30 million or so of uninsured citizens), it certainly doesn’t look like the ACA will be sustainable unless severe changes to the plan are implemented. And all this after trillions (trillions???) of dollars have been spent.
Insuring the uninsured and needy is not a new concept. Even Nixon said something to the effect of “Well, then let’s just buy them insurance!” Easy said, but where’s the money going to come from? The exorbitant sums consumed by the Obama administration for that purported end certainly hasn’t seemed to help much, and the long-term prospects look worse. Nor is providing the insurance to the needy solely a project of “magnanimous Liberals”, no matter what the mainstream media would like you to believe. Plenty of Republican-proposed bills have been proposed, of which HR 3121 is only one example. Democrat have proposed other plans as well. None are perfect, none have simple solutions, and not one of them will be cheap. But they should all be reexamined in light of the recent findings regarding the ACA. That ship is sinking: simply convincing the orchestra to keep playing might make the out-of-touch, self-proclaimed “progressives” who have hijacked the Democratic party feel good, but it’s looking like it’s going to be a long, cold descent to an all-but-certain fate. The problem is that it just might drag the rest of us down with it.