MORE BUMPS THAN ROAD: Obamacare Hits Another Bump in the Road.
Well, the hammer has fallen: The largest health insurer in the U.S. has started pulling out of select Obamacare exchanges.
Five months ago UnitedHealth, which had been singing sunny songs to investors about its bright future on the exchanges, abruptly began crooning the blues. In an earnings call barely a month after executives assured investors that all was going swimmingly, they confessed that they were losing a ton of money on their Obamacare policies and described a pattern that sounded as if consumers were gaming the system — signing up for a few months, using a ton of services, and then canceling their policies. If this continued, they said, they would have no choice but to pull out of the exchange business.
All Obamacare news is a sort of Rorschach test upon which viewers project their own deepest hopes and fears about the program, and the UnitedHealth news was no exception. Supporters of the law saw a company that had come late to the exchanges; offered a high-cost, high-value product; and consequently experienced losses as the sickest people rushed to buy their policies. The law’s detractors saw the canary in the coal mine, a view that gained some credence as other companies made similar statements.