By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Paying the piper for health insurance

In nearly three years since the January 2014 launch of Obamacare, so many chickens have come home to roost that they probably would qualify for a group health insurance plan.

In a February 2013 commentary about the pending new law, this column ended with a bit of sarcasm: “It must be a good thing, of course, since it’s called the Affordable Health Care Act. We’ll see.”

Last year, surveying the growing wreckage of AHCA implementation, we commented: “Obamacare regulations for business group insurance plans are impossibly complex, and the combination of rising costs and byzantine public policy is a double dose of financial disruption and national discontent.”

Along the way, we’ve witnessed drug-cost scandals and a ridiculously partisan presidential election campaign that guaranteed continued gridlock on any search for national solutions.

Today, tens of thousands of Oregonians in the private insurance market pools face loss of coverage or, at a minimum, huge rate increases.

As reported by Jeff Manning in The Oregonian, nearly 60,000 people were “orphaned” from health insurance in the first half of 2016 because carriers, citing huge losses, dropped out of the market. Another 80,000 people faced the same fate when Regence and Providence announced major pull-backs from Oregon rural markets.

“After a month of furious negotiation,” wrote Manning, “regulators announced their new deal with insurers on Aug. 11. In return for continued statewide service, the state allowed Providence an additional 5 percent increase on top of the 24 percent already approved. Regence and Bridgespan got rate hikes of 3-6 percent on top of the 17.9 percent OK’d earlier.”

Manning reported on one family’s monthly premium rising from $792 in 2014 to $1,244 in 2017, accompanied by higher deductibles.

Nationally, major insurance companies not only are reconsidering expansions plans, but questioning continuation of current private insurance programs. Our culture spawns an excess of health care problems, but mandated private insurance is not the answer.

Here’s a hardball quote from John Hayward on

“No one except the designers of ObamaCare actually thought it would be affordable … The notion that insurance companies previously charged high premiums, or withheld coverage, from ‘high-risk’ customers because they were evil and mean and greedy, but now Daddy Obama would make them see the error of their ways, was the dumbest and most expensive political fairy tale of the modern era.”

Perhaps, it’s all designed to maximize the chaos as encouragement for national health care, which exists in most developed nations.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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