2008 record      


The public overwhelmingly opposes any ObamaCare bailout of the insurance industry, the latest IBD/TIPP Poll found, even as the Obama administration is paving the way to do just that.


The survey found that 65% oppose a federal bailout of insurance companies that find their profits hit because not enough young, healthy people sign up for ObamaCare plans.

Opposition is widespread, the poll of 907 adults found, with 51% of Democrats, 71% of Republicans and 76% of independents against it. It's opposed by every age and demographic group as well.

Although few people knew about it until recently, the health law contains a three-year "risk corridor program" designed to bail out insurers if costs were higher than anticipated from too few young people enrolled.

The administration planned on 2.7 million young enrolling in the first year. Early data show that relatively few are doing so. And a Harvard University survey found less than a third of young uninsured say they plan to buy an ObamaCare exchange plan.

But the chances of an industry bailout sharply increased after President Obama said he'd make it possible for individuals to keep their current plans another year, a proposal he made after millions got cancellation notices.

Obama left it up to state insurance commissioners to decide whether to allow it. So far 22 have done so; eight are undecided.

The industry complained, however, that this "fix" would result in even fewer young and healthy people signing up for ObamaCare plans than they'd anticipated when they set 2014 premiums.

"Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market," said America's Health Insurance Plans President Karen Ignagni.

The Obama administration admitted as much this week, noting in a regulatory filing that "if lower health risk individuals" keep their plans, that "could increase an issuer's average expected claims cost."

But Gary Cohen, a top official at HHS, told the industry not to worry, since, as he put it in a letter to state insurance commissioners, "the risk corridor program should help ameliorate unanticipated changes in premium revenue."

Translation: Taxpayers will bail the industry out of any costs created by Obama's "fix."

On Monday, HHS proposed changes that would open the bailout spigot even more. Among other things, it proposes to loosen the rules to be eligible for any "risk corridor" money. It also wants to lower the threshold before a company can get federal "reinsurance" payments. Previously, a company would have to spend at least $60,000 on an individual before the government would kick in. They want to drop that to $45,000.

Some observers think the resulting costs of an ObamaCare bailout could reach half a billion dollars in the first year.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., proposed the "ObamaCare Taxpayer Bailout Prevention Act" to abolish the risk corridor program. His bill has 11 co-sponsors. A House version has 29.

While neither has a realistic chance of being enacted, they have managed to raise public awareness of the issue.

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