President Obama knows that one way to boost the popularity of a policy is to frame it as an attack on some unpopular group. Partway through the Obamacare debate, after Big Pharma brought more money to the table than the insurance lobby, the White House got polling that said attacking insurers was a political winner.
So even though the heart of the bill came straight from the playbook of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the White House shifted its rhetoric, began talking about “Health insurance reform,” and began framing the fight as Obama vs. the insurers. In the end, the insurers opposed the bill.
But that doesn’t mean Obamacare will, in the short and medium term, hurt the insurers. Check out this analysis this month from Seeking Alpha:
Buy UnitedHealth And Hold WellPoint And Aetna To Capitalize On Obamacare
Premium subsidies will drive profits. Medicare and Medicaid spending will increase, driving profits for private insurers. And, the analyst writes, “I am not too worried about the impact of industry fees on health insurers because they should be able to pass the major portion of these fees to consumers by simply marking up the premium.”
Sure enough, United Health Care says it will pass on the fee to customers, adding 2.3 percent to premiums: “Yes, the fee will be part of the premium for the health plan spread out over the months the plan is in force.”
Drugmakers will also see added sales thanks to the law, according to government estimates: “prescription drug spending growth is projected to reach 8.8 percent in 2014 (4.7 percentage-points faster than in the absence of reform)”
So, those are some of the winners. There will be lots of winners in the health sector, because this law will make Americans spend more on health-care than otherwise, a 7.4% jump in 2014, instead of the 5.3% we would have had absent the law.