What is the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? According to three of the nation’s top health insurance executives, nobody really knows. But that’s not stopping these same three experts from claiming Obamacare will get better in the long run.
In a Politico Pro health care breakfast briefing discussion Tuesday morning, executives from Health Net Inc., the trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans and Tufts Health Plan discussed the impact of the Affordable Care Act, specifically, “how providers are planning for the new health care landscape, and lessons learned since October.”
All three experts made inaccurate statements during the briefing, which was cosponsored by CVS Caremark.
Perhaps most importantly, the entire panel — including Health Net president and CEO Jay Gellert and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) president and CEO Karen Ignagni – appeared to agree that the ACA had led to the coverage of 8 million Americans through insurance exchanges and as many as 6 million through Medicaid expansion.
In early April, FactCheck.org found that between one and three million Americans were covered through Medicaid expansion, citing a report from the administration that President Obama has exaggerated.
The 8 million claim is also misleading. The Obama administration has a flexible definition of what it means to have coverage under the exchanges — which is why one Health Affairs analysis found that “in the end, 6 to 7 million average enrollees is probably a reasonable estimate.”
Furthermore, some of this coverage includes people who are changing from insurance that was made illegal or otherwise eliminated by the ACA to ACA-approved insurance. A RAND study found that number could be as high as 1.4 million.
Next, Gellert and Jim Roosevelt, CEO of Tufts Health Plan, both indicated the ACA provides the opportunity to be covered, and covered affordably, via the individual mandate. More correctly, though, the individual mandate instituted a requirement to be covered, as all Americans had the opportunity to be covered pre-ACA — the question was merely that of cost.
The cost of health insurance has skyrocketed in recent decades, despite — and partially because of — innumerable government regulations and policies. There is no single cause, of course — other major factors include the graying of America and greater health insurance costs to help senior citizens live longer and better.
Nevertheless, for many Americans, the ACA has increased the cost of premiums and care.