With the election just around the corner, NAHAM News is taking a look at the healthcare side of the rhetoric. This article from the Associated Press reports that although the insurance industry dislikes parts of President Barack Obama's health care law, major outfits such as UnitedHealth Group and BlueCross Blue Shield also stand to rake in billions of dollars from new customers who'll get health insurance under the law.
The companies already have invested tens of millions to carry it out. Were Romney elected, insurers would be in for months of uncertainty as his administration tries to make good on his promise repeal Obama's law. Simultaneously, federal and state bureaucrats and the health care industry would face a rush of legal deadlines for putting into place the major pieces of "Obamacare."
The Romney campaign has not provided specifics on how the candidate would carry out his repeal promise, other than to say the push would begin on his first day in office. Romney has hinted that he wants to help people with medical conditions, but doesn't say what parts of the health care law he would keep. Rather than an overall repeal, most assume he will try to reduce scope or coverage. A lot would depend on what Congress is willing to go along with – if anything. For its part, the insurance industry has three items in particular it wants stripped out: 1) cuts to Medicare Advantage private insurance plans; 2) a requirement that insurers spend 80 percent of premiums on medical care or rebate the difference to their customers; and 3) new taxes on insurance companies.
There is also no consensus among Republicans in Congress on how to replace Obamacare, much less anything like a bipartisan middle ground on health care. This would be a necessity if the House retains its GOP majority and the Senate remains in Democratic hands.
In contrast, Obamacare is starting to look more and more like a tangible business opportunity. In a little over a year, some 30 million uninsured people will start getting coverage through a mix of subsidized private insurance for middle-class households and expanded Medicaid for low-income people. Many of the new Medicaid recipients would get signed up in commercial managed care companies.
At a time when employer coverage has been eroding, government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and now Obamacare are becoming the growth engines for the industry's bottom line.