Editorials

Welcome to the ‘marketplace’ with one health insurer for 71 percent more

The future of the Affordable Care Act hinges on the outcome of the presidential and congressional elections. In Illinois the plan choices are limited for 2017, with only one insurer available in the metro-east.
The future of the Affordable Care Act hinges on the outcome of the presidential and congressional elections. In Illinois the plan choices are limited for 2017, with only one insurer available in the metro-east. AP

After delaying release of the Affordable Care Act proposed rates for three months, then assuring Illinoisans that the shocking rate hikes were just proposals, we now have the final rates and they are still sky high. Add to the high rates many fewer choices — just one choice for residents of Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties.

Lucky us, with more than 500,000 residents we can only attract one insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, to offer an Obamacare plan for 2017 with rates for the silver plan that are 71 percent higher than last year. The three local counties are among only seven in Illinois with just one insurance choice, but it’s not much better elsewhere because 75 percent of Illinois counties have two or fewer choices.

And the insurers are not to blame. They have suffered massive losses — Aetna lost $430 million before it left Illinois — and the feds did not come through with millions in promised payments.

It’s the same across the nation.

Who you pick for president and Congress on Nov. 8 will matter a lot to the future of the Affordable (a’hem) Care Act. Changes might include repeal, tweaks or eventually a single payer system, which is government taking it all on and taxing you to cover the losses insurers are presently eating.

If the public option of expanding Medicare comes to pass, our federal government will provide a plan for those too sick or poor to buy insurance. The “free” government plan will eventually draw in all the customers until private companies can’t compete — how do you compete with a plan that covers losses by taxing other people? Government will become the “single payer” without the cost controls of the free market, and in the process will have destroyed an entire industry.

And all this turmoil for 100 percent of the population is because 15 percent of the population didn’t have coverage — and 10 percent still don’t.

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