Peter Lee, the head of Covered California (the California Obamacare state exchange), went on the record yesterday to blame UnitedHealth Group exclusively for all of the billion dollar, multi-year haircut that UHG took/will take from trying to contort its business practices to something that could conform with Obamacare. Apparently it’s all due to manipulation by”Wall Street” – which is, of course, the buzzword that ideologues use when they don’t actually understand precisely why theory and practice have just collided. On the bright side, at least Peter Lee didn’t blame it all on the Freemasons. Or the Jews.
Moving along, two things. First, the reason for UHG’s woes is only casually referred to in the article: “The insurer also[*] offered broader provider networks that tend to attract sicker customers who incur big medical bills.” Shockingly, those sicker customers will sign up when they really need coverage, get it, and the health care insurers take it on the chin. But never fear! The same multi-dimensional geniuses who set up this combination clown show/dumpster fire will fiddle with the rules some more to keep all those sick people from getting the coverage that they need! …At least, that’s what people are going to say, once the new regime kicks in.
Second: in case you were wondering, Covered California is reportedly solvent. …Mind you, it’s doing that by shunting everybody it can into Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program). And even then, ‘solvent’ assumes ‘Governor Brown gets his tax increase to fill a billion dollar budget hole’ and ‘California hospitals don’t get Medi-Cal reimbursement rates raised to something functional.’ Who here thinks that Californian Democrats will be lucky to get even one of those, let alone both?
*The ‘also’ refers to the suggestion that UHG’s primary problem was that its premiums were higher, thus presumably turning off people who weren’t willing to pay more. Not that this seemed to make a difference to the aforementioned sicker customers… wait, I’ve heard this argument before. Usually when trying to explain to Obamacare boosters why the individual mandate isn’t convincing young people to sign up for it.