I’ve blogged about some incredible spin in this NPR story about Lara Imler, an uninsured hair stylist who applied for insurance through healthcare.gov but has no real idea if she succeeded. At the time of the story she was “optimistic” and that was all it took for NPR to declare in their headline that, “Persistance Pays Off For Uninsured Alaskan.”
But the hyper spin in this piece was not what made me want to blog about it. Nor do I really care about the garbage website that seems like it was designed by the Joker of DC Comics. Rather, the story makes some admissions about how the Affordable Care Act is supposed to work as a system that I think are staggering. If this is what friends of Obamacare tell you about what they are trying to do, then they don’t need to worry about critics or enemies.
The plan is a great deal for Imler, though it may be a different story for her insurance company. The claims from her chronic condition are likely to pile up quickly.
But insurance companies are braced for people like Imler, especially during the first year. Jeff Davis, president of Premera Alaska, says the company is prepared to lose money in 2014, maybe even a lot of money. But in the long run, he thinks Premera can balance the mix with healthy people.
“The first wave will be people who know they need coverage, so that’s a little scary,” Davis says. “So then, the question and the challenge becomes, how do we help inform others, particularly those who are subsidy eligible, that this is available to them and help them figure out how to get to it.”
So, if Davis is being honest with us, Premera (or Blue Cross?) is going to take substantial losses in 2014 and hope that they can “catch up” later. Does that sound like a rational business venture?
Is Davis hoping the subsidies are going to be enough to make the insurance a good deal for these healthier, younger, potential “customers”? Is he hoping the fine for not buying insurance will be increased enough?
Or is the idea that, when all the insurance companies are going bankrupt, this artificially created emergency is going to “force” the government to produce a dramatic bailout and an emergency law that will stabilize the system?
Of course, as the President of the company, Davis can always find a new job. It is not as if he really needs Premera to prosper. If he had resisted Obamacare he would probably have lost his high paying job. That is the dirty secret of all these public companies. They are run by people who are motivated to keep profits up in the short term and to cooperate with politicians without having a real interest in the long term. CEO’s and other officers are natural allies for government dictators. They have every incentive to serve as government mouthpieces.
(This is related to why big business hates the Tea Party so much.)
As far as I’m concerned, NPR has casually told us that insurance companies are planning to be rescued from a path the government has dictated that would otherwise lead them to “crash and burn.”
When it happens, just remember it was totally predictable and probably intentional.