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EDITORIAL: Obamacare burdens wallop Nevadans

The Affordable Care Act has had myriad well-documented failures over the past month on the national front, from the massively flawed rollout of the federal exchange website to the eye-popping increases in premiums, deductibles and co-pays. There’s also the ever-growing reality that, despite President Barack Obama’s repeated promises, millions of Americans will not be able to keep insurance plans that they like and, more importantly, can afford.

But lest anyone think Obamacare is doing just fine here in Nevada, plenty of evidence to the contrary has come out in the past week, much of it in two reports from the Review-Journal’s Jennifer Robison. On Sunday, Ms. Robison noted that new, ACA-compliant plans are loaded with many services most people will never use — such as maternity care for a healthy, single, 20-something male. Such add-ons pump up the cost of premiums and also serve to encourage young, healthy people to pay the penalty tax for not having ACA-compliant insurance, rather than buy coverage larded with costs for benefits they’ll never need.

And that leads to a big problem: For Obamacare to survive, more than anything, it needs millions of young, healthy people to sign up for insurance. Their premiums are supposed to offset the costs of older, less healthy people. Instead, as insurance broker Phil Randazzo told Ms. Robison, he is “really only seeing unhealthy people calling. We’re not getting calls from the 31-year-old guy who just wants to buy health insurance.”

Furthermore, Ms. Robison reported Wednesday that the Nevada exchange, at nevadahealthlink.com, remains a major obstacle for potential enrollees, with brokers reporting frequent error codes, frozen pages and unwieldy questionnaires, if they can even get through online. Worse still, Mr. Randazzo said 80 percent of the calls he gets are from people eligible for the Medicaid expansion contained within Obamacare. Care for those Nevadans will be fully subsidized. Meanwhile, there aren’t enough people buying into private insurance plans to subsidize the less healthy, the poor and the old.

Still, the biggest obstacle is the fact that the Affordable Care Act is not affordable. Avik Roy, writing for Forbes.com, cited a Manhattan Institute study showing that in the average state, individual market premiums will increase by 41 percent, with only eight states seeing reductions as a result of Obamacare. And which state gets hit the hardest? Nevada. The average increase for Silver State citizens shopping for coverage will be a monstrous 179 percent.

Bottom line: Obamacare won’t work for Nevada. The law does nothing to make policies more affordable for people who don’t qualify for subsidies — or even those who do, in many cases. Nevada’s congressional delegation must pay attention to what’s happening here at home, not just the widely publicized national reports on the massive flaws contained in this legislation.

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