UnitedHealthcare was never a “big player” in the nation’s insurance exchanges and it really won’t affect much when the insurance giant leaves state exchanges by 2017, Obamacare architect Dr. Zeke Emanuel said Friday.
“It came in very tepidly initially and has not been very aggressive or interested in the exchanges,” Emanuel told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. “Second of all, it’s not pulling out of all the exchanges. They’ve only had about 6 percent of the enrollees in the exchanges, so it’s not really that big an upset for the whole thing. I think there’s a lot more attention on it because it is the biggest insurer in the country, but it’s never been a big player in the exchange world. So I would not say that it’s that big a deal.”
However, spine specialist Dr. Dave Campbell, also on the program, disagreed with Emanuel, saying that UnitedHealthcare’s decision to pull out is “the same as the canary in the coal mine.”
UnitedHealthcare referred to dropping three states already, Campbell said, and “we know Blue Cross-Blue Shield is close behind. The large insurers are merging. We’ll have three large players in the United States.”
He continued that UnitedHealthcare will have lost $1 billion by the end of this year.
The basic problem started when Obamacare began, said Campbell.
“Dr. Emanuel says it’s going to be $500 billion expended by the Affordable Care Act within the next four years,” said Campbell. “It’s only $1 billion that UnitedHealthCare has lost but the basic problem is the enrollees in the Affordable Care Act are sicker than the insurance companies expected.”
The recipients, he said, aren’t necessarily older, but they’re “sicker in general with more chronic diseases” and had not been insured, so they couldn’t get care.
“So, if you are on the side of the equation of a patient, the Affordable Care Act is real good, as 18 million people have insurance that’s didn’t,” said Campbell. “The problem is they are losing access to health care because doctors don’t really want to provide care.”