A new Gallup poll provides yet more evidence that Obamacare is collapsing. According to the survey, the share of people without health insurance jumped to 11.7 percent in the second quarter of this year — up from 10.9 percent at the end of 2016.
Obamacare is spending billions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing insurance coverage for millions of people — and even offering it for free to millions more. Yet an increasing number of people are rejecting the offer.By expanding Medicaid eligibility to everyone earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, Obamacare added more than 14.4 million people to the program's rolls. The law has also subsidized insurance for more than 10 million people through the exchanges.
As if that weren't enough, Obamacare's individual mandate penalized individuals who remained uninsured, charging them a fine of the greater of $695 or 2.5 percent of income. Finally, the law's guaranteed issue provision made it illegal for insurers to turn away patients because of their health status.
Despite these drastic reforms, the number of people forgoing insurance is on the rise, as the Gallup survey makes clear. Moreover, enrollment in the insurance exchanges actually fell from 12.7 million in 2016 to 12.2 million this year.
There's a simple reason for this trend. Obamacare's heavy-handed regulation of the health insurance market has made coverage either unaffordable or unattractive for many.
Indeed, premiums on HealthCare.gov are now 105 percent higher than average individual-market rates from 2013 — before the exchanges opened for business.An insurance market in which a shrinking number of people are willing or able to buy coverage can't last for very long. Unfortunately, the Senate's latest healthcare bill (the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which was released on July 13) preserves many of Obamacare's key provisions and does little to help people purchase coverage.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has since postponed a vote on this bill because of Sen. John McCain's, R-Ariz., absence from the senate due to surgery. The official CBO score could come by the end of this week, but it is unclear whether they will have a score of the Cruz/Lee amendment that would allow exchange enrollees to purchase non-compliant, cheaper plans if one compliant plan is available on the exchange.It's up to Republicans in Congress to completely repeal Obamacare and replace it with policies that foster a competitive insurance market — where Americans can secure high-quality health coverage that's also affordable.
Sally Pipes (@sallypipes) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is president, CEO and Thomas W. Smith fellow in health care policy at the Pacific Research Institute.
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