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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Obamacare 'death spiral' scenario is about the states, stupid -- By Philip Klein, The Washington Examiner

As problems continue to plague the rollout of President Obama's health care law despite improvements to the federal healthcare.gov website, one issue that continues to loom is the possibility of the dreaded “death spiral.”

The term “death spiral” refers to an unraveling of the individual market if insurers are stuck with a disproportionate number of older and sicker enrollees with high medical claims without a sufficient number of younger and healthier participants to offset the costs.

Though the Department of Health and Human Services hasn't yet released a demographic breakdown of those who have picked a plan through Obamacare, early data from a handful of states has suggested that the risk pool has been disproportionately older.

But what’s been largely lost in the ongoing discussion about whether a death spiral can happen is that there isn’t one Obamacare “risk pool” and thus, there isn’t one potential “death spiral.” In reality, there are 51 different risk pools (for each state plus the District of Columbia), which means 51 chances to get things right, as well as 51 possible death spirals.

It's perfectly possible that come March 31 - the current end of the open enrollment period - evidence will show a bit of both. That is, some exchanges may be viable, and some may find themselves in deep trouble. This could not only have implications for the 2014 elections, but it could affect how both parties approach health care policy.

There is already evidence that this scenario is playing out. HHS data on Obamacare signups for October and November, the first two months of the exchanges' operation, shows a wide disparity in signups among the states.

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