This wasn't supposed to happen.
With the mainstream media, at least the majority that is left of center, flooded with story after story touting Obamacare's success, the news coming this morning from Denver that Colorado's largest nonprofit health insurer and participant in that state's insurance exchange Colorado HealthOP is abruptly shutting down, forcing 80,000 Coloradans to find a new insurer for 2016, was a slap in the face for the Obama administration's crowning achievement.
According to AP, the health insurer announced Friday that the state Division of Insurance has de-certified it as an eligible insurance company. That's because the cooperative relied on federal support, and federal authorities announced last month they wouldn't be able to pay most of what they owed in a program designed to help health insurance co-ops get established.
Wait, wasn't the whole point behind Obamacare to subsidize health insurance for everyone, and especially the poor? Or was the whole point of the "Affordable" Care Act merely to herd as many Americans into the clutches of the few for-profits, after the non-profit cooperatives finally read the fine print and realized they have no chance of being profitable under the new regime?
The plot thickens: in a statement announcing its closure Friday, Colorado HealthOP said it was "well on its way" to repaying some $72.3 million it has borrowed from the federal fund. The co-op reported a net loss of $23 million last year. In other words, the company burned through some $23 million in taxpayer funds and it didn't even get a lousy shirt to show for it.
Ironically, on the company's website, we read the following about the Co-Op's business model:
if our revenues exceed our costs, the surplus will be reinvested to directly benefit members—through lower premiums, expanded benefits, or quality improvements.
Well, no risk of that ever happening now. What the insurer failed to point out is that if costs exceed its revenues, it will be promptly liquidated and massive corporations will be the sole beneficiaries.
Naturally, the CEO was furious: Colorado HealthOP CEO Julia Hutchins called the de-certification "irresponsible and premature."
She is not alone - as it turns out HealthOP was just the fifth casualty of a program which with every passing months is being exposed as nothing but a tax-backed piggy bank for the mega insurance corporations. "The Colorado announcement makes the co-op at least the fifth in the nation to collapse. Similar nonprofit insurers have already failed in Louisiana, Iowa/Nebraska, Nevada and New York. A health insurance cooperative in Tennessee announced this week that it would stop offering new policies.
Expect even more failures ahead of open enrollment for 2016 starts on November 1. The Colorado Division of Insurance must first certify insurers before they're allowed to sell plans, so the de-certification essentially puts Colorado HealthOP out of business.
Back to the HealthOP CEO who added that "the Division has let local and national politics hurt Coloradans' access to low-cost healthcare options and assessed Colorado taxpayers with significant avoidable costs," Hutchins said in the statement.
Actually they became unavoidable the moment the deeply compromised and ideologically partisan Supreme Court imposed the Obamacare tax on Americans, with few if any realizing the monetary implications of the new insurance regime.
While it won't provide much comfort to Colorado HealthOp, which is now winding down, its board of directors has requesting that the state allow a board-appointed independent consumer protection ombudsman to assist through the shut-down.
In other words, even more millions in taxpayer funds will now be spent to liquidate the health insurer.
And while the lame duck president hardly cared as his legacy achievement will soon be some other president's problem, Republicans quickly took to gloating and pointed to the co-op's closure as "a sad but predictable outcome."
"Taxpayers are on the hook for millions of dollars in loans given out to the CO-OP, money that will likely never be repaid," U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said in a statement after the announcement. "The years since Obamacare's passage have been marked by crisis after crisis in healthcare, and it's far past time for a new plan."
But wait, there's more. Now that the numbers are being crunched, and hyperbole and propaganda are finally making way for math, someone figured out that Colorado HealthOP's closure could be bad news for everyone shopping on Colorado's health insurance exchange.
A Republican state lawmaker who serves on an oversight committee that has reviewed Colorado HealthOP's finances, Rep. Lang Sias of Arvada, said "rates for everyone are expected to go up next year. Colorado HealthOP accounted for nearly 40 percent of the exchange's total customers."
"They're all going to be paying more, on average, I would expect," Sias said.
And as more Americans get letters in the mail such as the one below kindly informing them their health insurance premiums are rising by 60% crushing any desire to splurge modest "gas savings" on discretionary purchases...
... expect complaints about soaring health insurance prices, to hit - first in Colorado and then everywhere else.