Other editors: Taking over stealth government health insurance

The Department of Health and Human Services recently made headlines with a report announcing that “national uninsured rate hits record low in early 2022.” That sounds encouraging, but look under the covers and what you find is a quiet but huge shift from private to government-subsidized coverage.

HHS estimates that there are 5.2 million fewer Americans without insurance than in 2020. However, Medicaid enrollments during the pandemic have increased by 24 million, a 34 percent increase, while two millions more adults have enrolled in ObamaCare exchange plans.

Why are so many more people on Medicaid when America’s unemployment rate has hit a record low? Much of the answer: The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act starting in March 2020 prohibited states from removing people who were ineligible from their Medicaid records for the duration of the public health emergency in exchange for ‘an increase in federal funding.

If not for Mr. Biden’s recurring emergency declaration, about 20 million Medicaid enrollees would no longer be eligible, most because their income exceeds the eligibility threshold. Many could now get coverage through their employers, but why pay insurance premiums when Medicaid is “free”?

Thus, taxpayers are hit with a huge surprise medical bill. Annual Medicaid spending has increased by $198 billion during the pandemic. That’s about as much as Medicaid spending grew from 2012 to 2019 during the first seven years of the ObamaCare expansion. As long as the Biden administration continues with the public health emergency, which will now end on October 13, the taxpayer’s Medicaid tab will continue to grow. And what are the chances that the Administration will not renew the emergency before the elections?

The other explanation for the government’s takeover of insurance is the Democrats’ expansion of ObamaCare exchange subsidies in March 2021. As a result, millions of Americans do not pay premiums and households over 400 % of the poverty line receive generous subsidies. The Congressional Budget Office initially estimated that the two-year grant extension would cost $22 billion. Actual cost: $50 billion.

More Americans enrolled in the exchanges than CBO predicted, and insurers have taken advantage of the sweetened subsidies by raising premiums. Yet CBO oddly predicts that the Schumer-Manchin bill’s three-year grant extension will cost just $33 billion.

How does CBO calculate that three years of subsidies will cost 34% less than two years? You may expect health care spending to slow as the pandemic recedes, but insurers are now raising premiums to cover Covid treatments they hope the feds will stop paying for.

By the way, CBO doesn’t take into account the Administration’s proposed regulation to fix ObamaCare’s so-called family problem, which limited exchange eligibility for many people who offered family coverage through their employers. The Administration estimates that the change could make it possible for an additional five million Americans who currently have access to employer coverage to receive more generous subsidies in the ObamaCare exchanges.

It appears the administration wants to push more people into Medicaid and the tightly regulated ObamaCare plans, thereby making more Americans dependent on the government for health care. The government also subsidizes employer coverage through the health care tax deduction, but this is significantly less expensive for taxpayers.

Annual Medicaid and ObamaCare spending has risen by about $230 billion during the pandemic, to about $44,000 per newly insured American. Unfortunately, taxpayers cannot challenge this surcharge.

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