Vox's Kliff Explains Huge Obamacare Premium Hikes

October 24th, 2016 8:41 PM

Imagine if your main shtick in life is acting as a cheerleader for a program that turns into a colossal flop. Such is now the situation of Sarah Kliff of Vox since it was reported today that ObamaCare premiums are due for a huge price hike. 

Before we see Kliff struggling to explain the death spiral price hikes predicted for years by "evil" conservatives, let us read the sad bedside news of the terminal patient via the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Premiums will go up sharply next year under President Barack Obama's health care law, and many consumers will be down to just one insurer, the administration confirmed Monday. That's sure to stoke another "Obamacare" controversy days before a presidential election.

Before taxpayer-provided subsidies, premiums for a midlevel benchmark plan will increase an average of 25 percent across the 39 states served by the federally run online market, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services. Some states will see much bigger jumps, others less.

Moreover, about 1 in 5 consumers will only have plans from a single insurer to pick from, after major national carriers such as UnitedHealth Group, Humana and Aetna scaled back their roles.

"Consumers will be faced this year with not only big premium increases but also with a declining number of insurers participating, and that will lead to a tumultuous open enrollment period," said Larry Levitt, who tracks the health care law for the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Yeeesh! So how to put a silver lining on this disaster? Can our Obamacare cheerleader pull it off?  Actually, she doesn't really try to do this. Kliff doesn't exactly throw in the towel but she doesn't sound very convincing when holding out the hope that somehow, in some way, just maybe Obamacare will survive the death spiral as you can see in her Obamacare's double-digit rate hike, explained in 400 words:

Not to quibble too much but she is off by double digits since her near funeral oratory actually runs to 411 words. Okay, back to the excuses:

Obamacare premiums are on track to rise faster than ever before in 2017.

The Obama administration released data Monday showing that premiums for midlevel plans will rise, on average, 22 percent between 2016 and 2017.

Yes, that is a huge increase. Last year premiums went up by 7.5 percent.

Premiums are rising on the Obamacare marketplaces largely because the people who signed up for coverage were sicker than the insurance companies expected. This led some health insurers (like Aetna and UnitedHealth) to leave the marketplace. The insurance companies that stayed behind realized they’d have to charge higher premiums in order to cover their members’ medical bills.

What does this mean for Obamacare customers?

It means they are about to enter a world of hurt. Thank you, Jonathan Gruber.

What does this mean for the future of the law more generally? That’s really hard to tell right now — but there seems to be two plausible interpretations of the data.

1. Painful reality.
2. Always unreliable liberal fantasy

One is that this is a one-time course correction. When Obamacare launched, premiums were much lower than analysts had expected. Insurance plans are now bringing their premiums more in line with expectations, and after they do that, they won’t have to make these big rate increases again.

Please Blue Fairy! Make this just a one-time course correction and they never ever have to hit us with big price hikes again.

The other is that this is the start of a possible death spiral for the Obamacare marketplaces: that these new high premiums will encourage healthy people to leave the market and only the sick people will stay in. Subsides act as a powerful counter-balance to this second scenario, though. By capping most enrollees’ contributions, they make it easier for healthy enrollees to stay in the market.

Gee, ya think! This "possible" death spiral has been predicted by those meanie conservatives right from the beginning when Obamacare was first patched together by Zeke the Bleak and Jonathan Gruber.

In either case, these numbers are bad news for Obamacare — we just don’t know how bad, exactly, the news is at this point.

It sure sounds like Sarah Kliff is finally throwing in the towel on ObamaCare after defending it all these years. She would have been more productive if she had instead spent all her waking hours playing Farmville at Facebook. Oh, and Sarah, please don't shift gears and start shilling for single payer since Vermont proved what a disaster that was.