No exchanging sick joke of Obamacare

Obamacare is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

While the pretty wrapping paper and multicolored bow appears attractive on the outside, once the package is opened, the soaring costs, broken promises and unintended consequences are exposed for all to see.

In recent days, we have learned about the proposed merger of Kentucky-based Humana and Aetna. There are also reports that Anthem and Cigna Corp. have rekindled merger talks.

What is the relationship between Obamacare and this trend toward merger? Simply put, because health care reform put a cap on insurers’ profits, these companies seek to spread fixed costs over a larger membership base.

Should these mergers come to fruition, the implications for insurance premiums are a real cause for concern.

Less competition generally tends to reduce the pressure to hold down rate increases. It also will reduce consumer choice.

Kentucky’s own experience with health care reform over a decade ago is very instructive.

Action by our General Assembly caused a number of health insurers to cease writing coverage in our state. Employer groups as well as those with individual coverage can recall the lack of competition resulted in premiums skyrocketing.

Speaking of premiums, we learned several weeks ago that some insurers in our state’s Obamacare exchange are proposing premium increases as high as 25 percent. This same pattern is being repeated across the country.

Learning about these proposed rates has to be painful for Americans who still recall our president’s words: “I will sign a Universal Health Care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.”

The horror stories continue to accumulate.

A recent Daily News editorial noted that emergency room visits were increasing since Obamacare, even though its supporters assured Americans that with universal health care, emergency room visits would decrease. It also said some small rural hospitals in our state were at risk of closing their doors.

At the same time, we are learning that Kentucky hospitals would have a net shortfall of $1 billion in revenue by 2020 as a result of losing more money under the Affordable Care Act than they gain in revenue from the law’s expanded coverage.

Services at some hospitals have been cut, and 7,700 Kentucky hospital employees have lost their jobs.

The Daily News, Bowling Green

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