Obamacare’s high risk pool

Remember in the “pre-Obamacare” days when the President held an assortment of town hall meetings extolling Obamacare’s virtues?  At each one of those meetings we were guaranteed to hear from someone(s) who desperately wanted insurance, but was unable to get insurance because of a pre-existing medical condition.  Those people would then go on to explain how they had “lost everything” paying for medical care.

Included in the findings (see page 140) made by Congress to support Obamacare was an interesting statistic…in 2008, those without insurance due to pre-existing medical conditions accounted for 20.1%, and $8.7 billion of all medical care that was not paid for by those receiving the care, but rather by anyone who had insurance, in the form of higher premiums.

Providing insurance to those with pre-existing conditions was probably the only piece of Obamacare that was supported by both parties, and, it took effect, via a government run “high risk” pool, on July 1, 2010.

So, here we are one year later.

As of June 30, 2011, the total number of people who have signed up for Obamacare’s high risk pool is 27,489…nope, no typo, 27,489 throughout the entire United States.

Inquisitive minds will first “do the math”.  If, in 2008, 27,489 uninsured people who desperately wanted insurance but couldn’t get it cost health care providers $8.7 billion in unpaid for medical costs, then each person who desperately wanted insurance, but couldn’t get it, consumed $316 million worth of health care in 2008.

As that makes little sense, do you think Congress and the administration “fudged” the numbers, and brought in “straw people” to Obama’s town hall meetings?

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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. Anybody but Obama on August 17, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    SOS, I cannot believe that Chairman?Maobama would deliberately mislead us poor misguided dirty masses( sarcasm) I guess the real question would be how do we cover those with pre-existing conditions. According to the list 57 people enrolled from CT, might I suggest a 1/2 percent catastrophic user tax on all medical services?provided in state, collected by the state and kept instate for CT citizens to be used exclusively for the unisurable with pre existing?medical conditions. You could have an instant lottery where the proceeds went in to fund? the above. To?simple I guess, anyone else have any ideas.

  2. Lynn on August 18, 2011 at 7:17 am

    As a retired health insurance (mostly self-employed agent), I wanted something to be done for the “high risk pool”. I am in this pool, if? I or my husband are no longer employed by a company.? This issue should be handled by the state.? However, another issue is the ridiculous mandates that are required for the “policies”. This was done courtesy of the two RINOS from Maine.? Tort Reform would help as well, Sorry SOS.

    • SoundOffSister on August 18, 2011 at 4:08 pm

      Nothing to be sorry about…I am a firm believer in tort reform.? But, don’t worry, Obamacare sets up a panel, or board, or commission, or whatever to “study” tort reform…feel better now!

    • Eric on August 19, 2011 at 6:53 am

      So all of my concerns were misplaced. ?I feel so much better now. ?LOL!

    • Lynn on August 19, 2011 at 7:44 am

      SOS, now that is a day brightener. I feel about as good as Eric about that. The hobbit in me says, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”. Thanks as always, SOS.

  3. crystal4 on August 18, 2011 at 7:48 am

    What this post does not say is people cannot afford the “high risk pool” before the individual mandate kicks in.
    “..the bulk of the people buying insurance on the exchanges are sick, and that makes the average premiums terrifically expensive. The mandate is there to bring healthy people into the pool, which keeps average costs down and also ensures that people aren’t riding free on the system by letting society pay when they get hit by a bus.”

    • NH-Jim on August 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm

      Well, when you’re hit by a bus, the bus (auto) policy covers the bodily damage liability up front, not the person’s health coverage.
      A mandate to bring “healthy” people into a pool which pays out worse, or less beneficial, compared to their present coverage is no incentive and outright wrong for those that do not have preexisting conditions.
      My family is relatively healthy and our rates skyrocketed at the moment of passage of this reform law that we were forced to drop the coverage.? It has forced us to self-insure ourselves through a HDHP HSA.? We carry more risk, more skin in the game to the tune of $559/month premium and a $7,000/yr deductible.
      Prior to “Obamacare”, we were paying $650/mon for full coverage with minimal copays.
      Now, tell me, how I was not screwed by this law?

    • crystal4 on August 18, 2011 at 4:26 pm

      to repeat, the mandate is not in effect yet.

    • rachel on August 19, 2011 at 6:05 am

      NH-Jim…what some people do not understand is that the insurance industry is raising rates while they can–right now–before the *mandate* goes into effect and their hands are tied.? Obamacare death panels the insurance industry.? Obamacare kills the responsible individual’s right to choose how to handle their own health care.? It will be a colossal nightmare…and really, if it’s sooooo great, why is the effective date after his term as president?? Because he’s a wimp.?

    • Lynn on August 19, 2011 at 7:50 am

      But, the insurance co. are already anticipating the disaster when the mandate is in effect. You see insurance co. PLAN for the unintended consequences, unlike President Obama. so the costs have already risen to begin to compensate. Mandates to force people to buy anything are wrong and not granted to Congress by the Constitution. I know that’s a sticky wicket, but it is what it is.

  4. rachel on August 18, 2011 at 8:32 am

    @crystal4…the bottom line is that people who already pay for their health insurance should not be forced to pay for people who choose to not have health insurance.? The number of people who have jumped on the ocare bandwagon does not justify restructuring the entire flipping system and screwing up my (& others’) benefits.? If obama really wanted us to be able to keep our insurance (as he promised), he should have made the penalty to employers higher than the cost of the employer contribution to insurance.? And people will be “riding free”.? Also, where did your quote come from?

    • crystal4 on August 18, 2011 at 9:00 am

      “the bottom line is that people who already pay for their health insurance should not be forced to pay for people who choose to not have health insurance.”
      Exactly!!! That’s what we are doing now! That’s why the individual mandate!
      And, sorry, meant to site Ezra Klein? from The Washington Post.

    • rachel on August 18, 2011 at 9:13 am

      The unintended consequences of this law will be as follows (imho):
      1) insurance rates will go up (mine went up 50% immediately after ocare passed–unprecedented for us, and I’m sure unprecedented for other people who have insurance coverage through their employers)
      2)employers who have not been lucky enough to get waivers, will simply drop coverage & pay the $2000/per employee fine, thus dumping people like me & my family into sea of newly “uninsured” people.? I don’t want government health care…I want my bluecross/blueshield…Obama promised me that I could keep my insurance if I like it.? He lied.? The democrats structured this disaster so that they could force us to be dependent on them for our health care.? And they get to keep their cadillac plans that we pay for?? Hypocrisy at its worst.? If it’s so great, why aren’t they leading by example?

      Let’s start backing away from huge socialist programs and return to personal responsibility.

    • NH-Jim on August 18, 2011 at 4:06 pm

      You mean Mr. Ezra (“the Constitution has no binding power on anything…the text of the Constitution is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago and what people believe it says differs from person to person and differs from what they’re wanting to get done”) Klein?

  5. phil on August 18, 2011 at 9:02 am

    A month before I was born, in 1941, my father bought an health insurance policy for his family.? Fifty cents a month.? He used the money he’d saved to pay for my delivery to buy a new shotgun, instead.? How to get out of the health care hole we’ve dug for ourselves, I can’t say, but I do wish dad hadn’t taken that first shovelful.? I mean, he already had a shotgun.

  6. sammy22 on August 18, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Thanks rachel for making my point:” the bottom line is that people who already pay for their health insurance should not be forced to pay for people who choose to not have health insurance”. As crystal4 points out we ARE paying now.

  7. Political Entropy on August 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    THAT is some FUZZY math.

  8. sammy22 on August 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    As crystla4 noted the mandate is not in effect yet. So how come the rates have gone up for you NH-Jim?

    • NH-Jim on August 19, 2011 at 11:16 am

      It’s called hedging.? Insurance companies are hedging their losses by increasing now.? Over the past years, my rates increased a moderate amount (although, I, and you, would not think so; any increase has been too much) but only months after passage of the health care reform bill, my rate increased 51%…51%!! in one renewal after a 29% increase the year prior.
      Let’s concentrate on the crux of the problem.? Lawyers. (sorry SOS)? Do you view T.V?? How many commercials do you watch by attorneys attacking every surgical procedure, practitioner, pharmaceutical?? Two of the prescription drugs (Verapamil and Depakote) that I rely heavily on to maintain my ability to function in society are targets by lawsuits of these maggots.? No person out there will benefit from these class action suits, only these parasites on society will benefit lucratively.? They will succeed in raising the costs of these drugs by winning their suit by court or settlement and I the patient will be the victim that pays out.
      But, was this “crisis” addressed in the wonderful Obamacare?? No!? The problem exists like a cancer on all of us, and all you and Crystal care about is the mandate of insurance…

    • Dimsdale on August 21, 2011 at 12:04 am

      Perhaps for the same reason gas prices go up when there is a crisis in the ME, despite the fact that the oil bought today is months from your fuel tank.

  9. kateinmaine on August 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    people who want health care should buy health care.? people who want health insurance should buy health insurance.? businesses that want to provide health care/insurance as a benefit to their employees should do so.? those that don’t?? that’s ok, too.? government has no business in this argument–look how well it has gone–and the law hasn’t even come close to taking full effect.? p.s.–swimming in a high risk pool will give you brain eating bacteria.? good luck dealing with the various ‘responsible’ government agencies on that. . .

    • crystal4 on August 19, 2011 at 8:00 am

      In other words, leave things as they are..it’s going just great!
      And, you can always pay your doctor with a chicken.

  10. Eric on August 19, 2011 at 6:52 am

    This Administration has been ‘fudging’ the numbers from day one! ?Their socialistic ideas are so wrongheaded though that even making things look “good” doesn’t work. ?Algore has been using the same “logic” to sell his wild theory on AGW for twenty years and it became his downfall. ?Isn’t it funny how facts always catch up with the numbers! ?

  11. Lynn on August 19, 2011 at 7:55 am

    By the way…. can’t resist. Because Connecticut is? a bluer than blue state, the good news is that Obamacare will not go up in price as high as in other states. The bad news is that because our illustrious General Assembly has already passed legislation for costly mandates that other states do not have in their policies. we are already paying a higher cost.

  12. sammy22 on August 19, 2011 at 11:51 am

    NH-Jim, your last comment changed the subject, and on that comment (lawyers) I agree w/ you. Tort reform is something that neither party, nor the President want take on. I’d say that “edging” as you described the practice of raising rates, because they can, gives insurers a bad name.

    • NH-Jim on August 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm

      Sam, did not mean to change subject but trying to (viscerally) described my reason, theory, belief (whatever one can label it) as to the reasons rates are escalating. Put them all together in one and we have a system that is breaking more than it was earlier.? I know you won’t agree with me on all but I appreciate the common ground.

  13. Dimsdale on August 21, 2011 at 12:03 am

    ?bamacare seeks to remove all risk assessment from insurance, and in doing so, will merely raise the cost for everyone, while the quality will go down as a result of price controls and government mandates.?
    Government needs to get out of the equation as much as possible.? It is the removal of the customer/patient from the pricing scheme that has caused costs to rise.? If a person had to shop around for good care with their own money (not just an insignificant copay), then costs would be driven down, as people would seek the best care for the least money.? Bad docs would be driven out of business.? Good docs would be rewarded.?
    Back when a doctor came to your home and would even “take a chicken” if the patient was poor, care was pretty good.?
    ?bama wants to pay doctors with welfare cheese.

    • crystal4 on August 22, 2011 at 3:26 pm

      Wrong…the mandate requiring all to be insured would bring millions into the pool…lowering rates…who are the uninsured who can afford insurance now? The young and healthy.
      This also blows that other “hedging” theory as the insurance companies are salivating and have lobbied for the individual mandate.

  14. Lynn on August 23, 2011 at 7:36 am

    Crystal, minus the waivers, so Obama himself is removing the numbers to make this ridiculous program “work”.? FUZZY MATH


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