According to the law of the land, today was the day that uninsured Americans needed to enroll in the Healthcare insurance market for a January 1 effective date. Let’s take a look at enrollment rates.
According to the Bangor Daily News article, Report: 77,000 Mainers eligible for Obamacare tax credits, 77- 120,000 are eligible to shop for insurance through the exchanges, possibly also called the Health Insurance Marketplace.
According to MPBN broadcast segment, Mainers Sign Up on the Exchange Ahead of Deadline, as of today’s deadline, 1,750 of the 77,000 have enrolled by today’s deadline. That is a 2.3% selection rate.
This is not a significant success. Instead, it is a glaring example of adverse selection. This is a sad repetition of the Maine’s failed Dirigo Health Insurance Program. Adverse selection is where those that truly need health insurance enroll. And this is a good thing. However, for effective funding (subsidy), those that do not need insurance yet, but are required by law to enroll, need to enroll. But this isn’t happening.
Instead, they seem to be making the obvious & logical choice of paying the penalty since it is cheaper than the premium. Who are those that do need insurance yet? The youthful un & under employed without access to employer provided insurance. Perhaps, if they haven’t turned 26 yet, they remain covered by their parent’s insurance.
Or perhaps they are making the choice between mandatory student loan payments, rent, food, utilities, all while suffering under a 16% unemployment rate. See the BLS report titled Employment and Unemployment Among Youth Summary.
The bottom line remains yet to be determined. Perhaps the collective penalty in the absence of collected premiums will be adequate to fund the Adverse Selection risk. But, for the program to become fully effective, with the spirit & intent of the law of the land implemented, the penalty needs to exceed the cost of the premium.
Only time will tell how Health Care Reform will play out. As for right now, the extensions, delays & broken/restated promises are troublesome.