Obamacare is imploding and Republicans are unprepared


Many problems predicted by Obamacare opponents are becoming reality, but Republicans are not ready to deal with the consequences should one of their candidates win the White House.

To be clear, any fantasies about Obamacare "collapsing under its own weight" and thus relieving Republicans of the responsibility of governing are just that — pipe dreams. Whatever the problems facing Obamacare, the law won't simply go away on its own. By the time the next president takes office, it will still be covering millions of Americans and imposing a raft of regulations on individuals and businesses.

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That said, there are very real and serious problems facing the law. Now that insurance companies have had a chance to assess medical claims being filed from those who signed up for Obamacare, it's become clear that the pool of enrollees is costlier than expected. Simply put, insurers aren't signing up enough young and healthy individuals to offset the cost of covering older and sicker enrollees. And the administration has slashed its enrollment projections for 2016.

Insurers have already been forced to either hike premiums or limit choices of doctors and hospitals in their networks. Things promise to get worse after 2016, when several provisions of the law intended to absorb risk taken on by insurers expire. Originally, these measures to mitigate risk were to serve as a form of training wheels in the first three years of Obamacare's implementation, the hope being that by 2017, the health insurance exchanges would be established enough to thrive on their own. But that is looking less and less likely. Without a federal backstop or an unexpected improvement in enrollment among the younger and healthier population, insurers will have to decide whether to exit the Obamacare market or hike rates even further. More exits by insurers will mean fewer choices and even higher premiums.

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