Tuesday morning, Fox Business's Stuart Varney appeared on Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends program to discuss what he called the "terminal decline" in the financial viability and even availability of health plans being provided under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
Brian Kilmeade called it "the most under-reported major story in the country by far." A Friday Investors Business Daily editorial described the situation as a "market meltdown," and further noted that the Obama administration is putting a happy face on huge rate hikes by reassuring us that higher subsidies, i.e., more tax dollars, will cover the increases most customers see.
Varney identified the three "tweaks" the Obama administration intends to implement to address the deteriorating situation. His eminently credible opinion is that they won't work.
Also note how Brian Kilmeade took a shot at insurance companies who chose to participate in Obamacare, claiming — naively, I believe, given the overwhelming blowback they would have faced had they all refused, as the last realistic chance to stop it was in Congress — that "if they didn't along with Obamacare and sign, there would be no Obamacare":
Transcript (bolds are mine throughout this post):
AINSLEY EARHARDT: Obamacare enrollment now at an all-time low, as major insurance companies report huge financial losses, and they're going to stop offering plans altogether.
PETE HEGSETH: The White House now scrambling to make big changes, but can it be fixed?
Here to react is Stu Varney, host of Varney & Company on the FOX Business network. Good morning.
STUART VARNEY: Okay, what they're going to try to do, not major changes, they're going to try to tweak Obamacare to save it from its downward spiral. I don't think you can do it.
Here are the tweaks. There are three main tweaks that they've got in mind. Number one, advertise to young people to try and get young healthy people to sign up. Number two, they're trying to tighten the rules so that you can't just sign up when you get sick. I don't know how they're going to do that, because that could really affect the basics of Obamacare. But they're going to try. And number three, they're going to say that well the Bronze plans, which are already the cheapest, they want to make them a little bit cheaper. But they're saying nothing about the astronomical deductibles associated with the Bronze plan.
Three tweaks, won't work. Obamacare is in terminal decline.
KILMEADE: It's unbelievable. It's the most underreported major story in the country by far, and that's why they're having the emergency meeting under the wire.
Meanwhile, giving an idea of some of the statistics coming your way. This according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis. A third of the customers only have one insurance option. Look at who has lost money: United Health Group lost $1 billion for 2015 and 2016. Healthcare Service Corp., $2 billion in the first two years. Highmark, $600 million. Blue Cross Blue Shield $400 million.
VARNEY: You've got the story.
KILMEADE: And by the way, they are to blame.
KILMEADE: If they didn't go along with Obamacare and sign on, there wouldn't be an Obamacare. So now they're dropping out. Aetna dropping out, leaving us no options.
VARNEY: Major carriers are dropping out. They're withdrawing, because they're losing their shirts quite frankly, $1 billion for one of those health insurers.
They drop out. That limits choice for consumers. So there's no competition amongst consumers. You've got a monopoly in five states. There's only one carrier in five states. In Pinellas County in Arizona, twice the size of Connecticut, there is no carrier at all. (Note: Varney appears to really be referring to Pinal County, Arizona, a county roughly the same size as Connecticut which indeed has no Obamacare insurers. — Ed.) And if you live there, and you don't have a plan, you can't get a plan, you'll still be fined, for not having a plan which doesn't exist.
(small talk for about 10 seconds)
HEGSETH: ... And I love the solution's always more advertising, selling something people don't want.
EARHARDT: To young people who don't need insurance much.
IBD's editorial made many additional salient points, especially about how the Obama administration is trying to lather lipstick on an exceptionally ugly pig:
Massive ObamaCare Rate Hikes Are A Good Thing, White House Says
This week Illinois' insurance regulator said ObamaCare premiums in the state will jump as high as 55%. The Obama administration's response to this and other news of massive rate hikes: Don't worry. Be happy.
... now, in the face of this market meltdown, the Obama administration put out a report this week that says, if anything, massive rate hikes are good for ObamaCare enrollees.
Most enrollees, they say, won't even notice the rate hikes, because the ObamaCare subsidies will cover most of the additional premium costs. In fact, the report says, the subsidies are designed in such a way that the bigger the premium increase the better.
... If premiums were to go up 10% next year, the report says, 77% would be able to buy coverage for $100 or less. But if they shot up 50%, then even more — 80% -- could buy a plan for $100 or less a month.
The reason for this upside-down result is that the subsidy is based on the cost of the second-cheapest Silver plan in any given area. The higher the cost for that, the bigger the potential subsidy.
... half the individual market gets little or no help in the face of these massive, ObamaCare-induced premium hikes. Plus there are the tens of millions who are still uninsured, many of whom can't afford ObamaCare one way or another.
The Obama administration is shamefully ignoring the plight of millions of middle-class families.
And, as Varney noted, many of them will now face a tax penalty, even though no Obamacare plan is even available in their area.
The situations just described — fines for being unable to buy what isn't available, and increased subsidies as a reward for increased prices — would be objects of endless press ridicule if they involved any non-entitlement government program.
Only in the upside-down world of government-funded health care could someone claim that "the bigger the premium increase the better." Well, they don't care, because taxpayers are funding most of the increases.
Besides, given what the services involved really cost, a $100 per month premium is not health insurance. It's a token amount paid by the recipient to dress up a vast expansion of the welfare state as a commercial product. No reasonable person is being fooled.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.