Friday, February 22, 2013

Reason #277: Winning

While full implementation of the Affordable Care Act is still a year away, its effects on the health care industry are already starting to be seen--and in some ways, may even predate the passage of the law itself.

One provision of the law that has gone into effect--as of September 2011--is a requirement that any company seeking to implement an insurance rate hike of over 10% must first be cleared by government regulators as "reasonable".

First of all, man; just saying that phrase "cleared by government regulators" makes me feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone. Regulations of any kind, let alone new ones, are like Haley's Comet these days. In any event, the great thing about regulation is that a lot of people would rather police themselves than get the feds involved (see: IRS audits), and sure enough, the graph above shows the proportion of proposed rate hikes larger than 10% plummeting from almost three-quarters in 2009 to about fifteen percent this year (so far).

In other words, simply a show of willingness to police rising costs is helping to keep costs down; Obamacare, simply by virtue of existing, is fulfilling its intended purpose.

Another big Obamacare story this week was Florida Governor Rick Scott's decision to opt into the law's extensive Medicaid expansion, becoming the seventh Republican governor to do so. He still doesn't like it--and even admitted as much in the course of his announcement--but the big change here is that with Obama's reelection, Republicans are slowly coming to accept the ACA as the law of the land, and rather than deny federal tax dollars to his poorest and uninsured-est constituents (while still feeding the state's own tax money into the expansion in other states), obviously Scott is going to get on board the Medicaid train.

So once again--it's there whether he likes it or not, so he might as well get to work on liking it. Republican participation, believe it or not, can only ultimately make the law better, and that shift in the debate, from "destroy this" to "make this better", is where the real change will happen.

Further Reading

Big health insurance rate hikes are plummeting

Why Republican governors are saying yes to Medicaid, no to Obamacare’s exchanges

Obamacare is winning

Poll: Obamacare’s biggest beneficiaries are skeptical of Obamacare

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