Rod St. Aubyn: Obamacare Has Been A Friend To Big Business


Do you remember the Obama administration and Democrat leaders touting the benefits of Obamacare once it was rammed down our throats through late-night backroom deals? There were promises of lower prices and more choices for all US citizens.

We were promised that each American family would realize a few thousand dollars of savings each year. Well that promise has been shown to be false. More federally mandated services increased health insurance premiums for all Americans. Immediately upon passage and the beginning of implementation of Obamacare, we saw even fewer choices. The number of insurers offering policies in the individual market in N.D. immediately dropped to 3 insurers – Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, Sanford Health Insurance, and Medica.

Recent news reports stated that Noridian Healthcare Solutions, a subsidiary of Noridian Mutual Insurance Company (typically known as Blue Cross Blue Shield of ND), had agreed to a $45 million settlement with the state of Maryland over a failed state health insurance exchange. That settlement will have to be approved by regulators in North Dakota, Maryland, and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS).

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]I find it somewhat ironic that Democrat leaders are typically opposed to big businesses, but their own creation (Obamacare), without a single Republican vote, has actually resulted in fewer, but larger companies.[/mks_pullquote]

The total cost for the exchange was much higher. The state of Maryland scrapped the system and built another one. You may recall several other failed state exchanges and even problems with the federal health insurance exchange. Once again these exchanges were a required part of Obamacare. It is unknown yet how much these failed projects will have cost the American taxpayer, but it will assuredly be substantial.

Now in the news, it was reported that several large national health insurance companies have merged or are proposing to merge. UnitedHealth acquired Catamaran, a pharmacy benefit management company. Then it was announced that Aetna was acquiring Humana.

Now over the weekend another major merger has been announced. Anthem is proposing to acquire Cigna insurance. As a result of these mergers the top 5 health insurance companies will now become 3 companies resulting in less competition. They all have stated that Obamacare has forced them to get bigger to capitalize on business efficiencies.

News reports have quoted economic experts saying that these mergers will most likely result in higher premiums. What will occur is that the investors in these companies will most likely see significant profits. I am all for increases in investor incomes, but not at the expense of competition.

One question that remains is what will happen to North Dakota’s health insurance market? Will the smaller insurers operating in North Dakota be able to compete with the “big dogs” and what impact will that have on the medical providers on our state? Fewer larger insurance companies can dictate what providers will be reimbursed and at what level. Your favorite medical provider may not be reimbursable by your insurance in the future.

I find it somewhat ironic that Democrat leaders are typically opposed to big businesses, but their own creation (Obamacare), without a single Republican vote, has actually resulted in fewer, but larger companies. Is this actually part of the overall plan? With fewer companies, less competition, and higher premiums will the Democrats then state that the government should take over the health insurance market? Will they ultimately be able to achieve their goal of a government-run single payer system for health insurance? Time will tell.