Delaying Obamacare for a year would be disastrous
THIS seems not to have occurred to the Republican geniuses in Congress:
[D]elaying Obamacare’s individual mandate — a central tenet of the health law that requires everyone to purchase insurance — would have catastrophic effects. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects it would end up forcing Americans to pay higher premiums for their health coverage. Healthier people would be discouraged from buying insurance, resulting in an older and sicker pool of people in the individual market and encouraging insurers to submit higher rates. The delay would ultimately hike premiums by an estimated 15 to 20 percent.
And according to the CBO, a one-year delay would leave about 11 million Americans uninsured, ultimately reducing the expected coverage gains under the health reform law by nearly 85 percent. As those uninsured Americans end up seeking care in hospitals, the cost of providing that uncompensated care will offset any costs that are achieved by delaying Obamacare’s coverage expansion. Ultimately, delaying the mandate doesn’t actually save the government any money.
As Wonkblog reports, delaying the individual mandate would have a “ripple effect” throughout the health insurance industry. That sector has been preparing for impending changes under Obamacare, and a last-minute decision to delay the law would be a huge drain on the companies that have already spent millions of dollars on advertising and outreach campaigns. “It’s just too late,” Joe Antos, a health policy researcher at the American Enterprise Institute, told Wonkblog. “Everybody who is involved, insurance companies and hospitals and any other big entity, they’re ready to go. They really can’t make any changes.”
When the Affordable Care Act was winding its way through the court system last summer, a conservative federal judge made the point that suddenly striking down health reform would create “economic chaos.” And at this point, as many of Obamacare’s consumer protections have already taken effect, the individual mandate is inextricably linked to making the health reform law work in practice. A new paper from the Urban Institute notes that delaying the individual mandate would “seriously disrupt overall implementation” of health reform.