In the continuing political and judicial controversies regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), its economic aspects have been overlooked. For the major healthcare insurance companies, the ACA has been a great a success: it is a huge money-maker for them, led by profit-spiking in Medicaid enrollment and Medicare Advantage. In gratitude, and looking forward to continued profits, the insurance industry has become the Obama administration’s major ally in defending the ACA against the onslaught of Republican legislation and court cases aimed at destroying a federal law whose validity had already been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The insurance industry has helped the Obama administration with its technology problems in addition to funding legislative and judicial defenses of the ACA. It is since only a matter of self-interest, for the President signed the ACA into law in March, 2010, the share prices of four of the biggest health insurers have more than doubled. “Insurers and the government have developed a symbiotic relationship, nurtured by tens of billions of dollars that flow from the federal Treasury to insurers each year,” said Michael F. Cannon, head of health policy studies at the independent Cato Institute.
As ACA continues to face debilitating challenges in the U.S. Supreme Court, it is coming down to a battle between the billionaires who have a political anti-ACA agenda and the billionaires who operate and profit from the health insurance companies. Somewhere in all of this, going back to the days before Max Baucus and Congress became responsible for the process, the ACA was supposed to be about expanding healthcare for the poor and reforming the system to allow for all of us to have greater access to health services.