During the debate over Obamacare one of the bill’s chief selling points was the alleged need to cover people who, due to pre-existing medical conditions, didn’t qualify for health insurance. This was a major problem, we were told, with citizens across the country crying out for relief.
But to date, despite projections estimating some 375,000 people would opt in, only 8,000 people have signed up for the federal government’s Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, which are the alternative to the “high risk pools” for the uninsured that are to be administered by the states (states could opt to manage their own insurance pool or participate in the federal government’s program).
Oh, and by the way, despite the scant few sign ups the program is already proving to be much more expensive than the government projected.
Under the sprawling health-care legislation that Democrats pushed through Congress in March, the special health plans were designed as a temporary coping mechanism for a small but important niche among the nation’s 50 million uninsured: people who have been rejected by insurance companies because they already are sick.
Twenty-seven states have created their own high-risk pools. The rest used an option in the law to let their residents buy coverage through a new federal health plan.
In the spring, the Medicare program’s chief actuary predicted that 375,000 people would sign up for the pool plans by the end of the year. Early last month, the Health and Human Services Department reported that just 8,000 people had enrolled. HHS officials declined to provide an update, although they collect such figures monthly, because they have decided to report them on a quarterly basis.
“Like the rest of the country, we thought we’d have pretty much a stampede. That obviously hasn’t materialized,” said Michael Keough, executive director of North Carolina’s plan. With nearly 700 participants, it is among the nation’s largest so far, but it has one-third of the people expected by now.
The State of Maryland’s poll has just 97 participants. An existing state-level health care plan created long before Obamacare has 19,000 enrollees. The point being, Obamacare didn’t solve any problems. It only appears to have created new ones.