Imagine spending years of your life in pursuit of your dream car. You save up all of your pennies for as long as it takes to be able put that machine in your garage. Finally, one day, your dreams become reality. You head over to the dealership, sign the papers, and boom: the car is yours. Years of blissful driving and smooth roads lie ahead.
Until you get T-boned at the first intersection you cross after leaving the lot. Thousands of dollars of repairs later, you’re back on the road, but now there’s an oil leak. And an issue with the rear differential. You get those fixed up, but a few weeks later, your radiator explodes. Your dream car has officially become the stuff of nightmares.
That’s exactly how health insurance giant UnitedHealth feels about Obamacare.
You see, the company spent years – and millions of dollars – lobbying in support of mandatory health coverage championed by President Obama. A few years ago, their dreams became reality: Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, and the President signed it into law.
UnitedHealth was elated, as their projections suggested that they stood to make massive profits once people began enrolling in Obamacare exchanges.
Except signups were lower than expected. And it turns out to be more expensive to cover those who did sign up than the insurance companies expected. Over the past few years, UnitedHealth has lost millions and millions of dollars in Obamacare, the very program from which they expected to profit. They relied on the government picking a winner, and it turned out to be a bad bet.
This week, UnitedHealth executives warned that they might pull out of the Obamacare exchanges altogether after 2016, risking the health insurance coverage of over half a million Americans.
While this is certainly disappointing to their customers, and supporters of government-run healthcare, it raises a broader question: if UnitedHealth — a massive conglomerate built specifically to succeed by the very government it lobbied — can’t succeed, then who can? As Katherine Hempstead, head of the insurance coverage team at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said, “If (UnitedHealth) can’t make money on the exchanges, it seems it would be hard for anyone.”
If UnitedHealth drops out of the Obamacare exchanges, it’s only a matter of time before its peers follow suit.
What do you think? If other companies drop out, where does that leave Obamacare? More importantly, where does that leave customers who rely on health insurance but have seen their premiums shoot through the roof?
Maybe the bigger question is, based on everything that’s happened, should the federal government even be involved in health care? Find out more about the proper role of government and solutions that make health care more affordable and available, then let us know how you see this playing out on our Facebook page.