Rick Ungar of Forbes [ed. note: the self-described "Capitalist's Tool"] is reporting that recent data provided by the nation’s largest health insurance companies reveals that a provision of the Affordable Care Act -- "Obamacare" – is bringing big numbers of the uninsured into the health care insurance system. The uninsured in this study include the sick and the young.
The provision of the law that permits young adults under 26, long the largest uninsured demographic in the country, to remain on their parents’ health insurance program resulted in at least 600,000 newly insured Americans during the first quarter of 2011.
Wellpoint, the nation’s largest publicly traded health insurer with some 34 million customers, reports adding 280,000 new members in the first three months of 2011.
Add in the results of some of the other large health insurers including Aetna, who added just short of 100,000 newly insured to their customer base, Kaiser Permanente’s additional 90,000, and Highmark’s 72,000 new customers, and we begin to sense our health insurance pools are filling up with some badly needed young blood.
BAM!, as the kids say.
One of the most tragic aspects of the private healthcare shenanigans that was the old system was that millions of people were remaining uninsured, despite the facts that they were both human and subject to major risk taking behaviors, like driving too fast (or while drunk) or "planking" or what have you.
The rest of us covered those uninsured ninnies, and these aren't poor newbie adults we're talking about. Many of them have good jobs (or had, before Bush got hold of them) but simply opted out of insurance because, well, "More BEER! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
Bringing these folks into the insured fold has a double benefit: one, their own insurance will now cover them when they do something clumsy which lowers our premiums and two, their entrance into the pool means that insurance companies can lower premiums to the rest of us, since these same people are less likely to suffer the chronic illnesses that come with aging like high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
The original Health and Human Services projection for additional insured Americans in 2011 was a modest 1.2 million. It looks like we're going to blow that out of the water.
And yet, insurance companies, for all the scaremongering by conservatives, have been drawing record profits. Gee...think it might have something to do in part with more insured Americans? I sure do.
Health care reform is only just getting started. In my book, Obama did too little, but fortunately it's not too late, too.