By – Reg Baker, Host of Business in Hawaii for Think Tech Hawaii
Ever since I was the COO and CFO for HMAA, one of Hawaii’s largest health insurance companies, I have been following the ACA aka Obamacare.
It was widely accepted in the healthcare industry that we did not need nor want the ACA. This was especially true in Hawaii due to the Prepaid Healthcare act that was passed over 25 years ago. Many felt that the ACA was just another step in the direction of nationalizing the healthcare industry, which has been proven to be a failure in every country that ever attempted nationalized healthcare.
Flash forward to today and we find many of those earlier concerns are coming true. Healthcare premiums continue to increase at double-digit rates. California just announced on Tuesday another 13% increase in premiums. Hawaii has experienced similar rate increases and very large loses by our local medical insurance companies. We already lost one local medical insurance company, Family Health, and the mainland has seen record high failures and consolidations.
The only way for smaller medial insurance companies to survive under the ACA is to merge with larger companies to obtain economies of scale and larger risk pools of customers. This has been happening at an alarming rate and has caught the attention of the US Department of Justice. This week, the DOJ announced they will be cracking down on these medical insurance mergers and acquisitions claiming that they are unacceptable.
The US Healthcare industry was one of the best in the world. We lead the world in setting the bar very high for quality of care, access to care, innovation, research and education. It is so sad and very scary to see how the ACA has disrupted the best health care system in the world to one that is fighting to survive with record bankruptcies, record levels of mergers and consolidations resulting in dwindling medical insurance companies, physicians retiring faster than we can replace them because of the challenges current providers face and constant regulatory interference.
If the plan of Obamacare, like many projected, was to create a single payer system, which is another word for nationalized healthcare, then we are clearly moving in that very scary direction. Let’s hope that it is not too late to save the US healthcare system that was once the best the world had ever seen.