Politics

GAO: Largest Health Insurers Have Gotten Even Bigger Since Obamacare Passed

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Obamacare made it through Congress with top Democrats’ constant assertions that big, corporate insurance companies were the problem, but in the three years after the health-care law passed those insurers only got richer. 

The three largest insurance companies held an average of 86 percent of all customers in the individual health insurance market in 2013, up from 83 percent in 2010, when Obamacare was passed, according to a report from the nonpartisan General Accountability Office.

It doesn’t look like that’s changing much this year. A September GAO report found that hefty regulations in Obamacare exchanges are driving smaller insurers to drop out of the exchanges entirely. (RELATED: GAO: Competition, Regulations Drive Smaller Providers From Obamacare Exchanges)

In Obamacare’s first year, the biggest, most established insurers had a better ability to offer lower premiums, in comparison to smaller, newer insurers without a stronger non-exchange customer base in case of unexpected losses. With larger insurers already taking the lead in Obamacare exchanges, it looks like those who were most demonized during the campaign for Obamacare are its most serious benefactors.

Investors think so, at least. Aetna and UnitedHealth Group, two of the largest insurance companies in the country, are both doing better than expected under Obamacare exchanges. (RELATED: Large Insurance Companies Are Raking In The Cash, Thanks To Obamacare)

Large, consolidated hospital systems and large insurers are doing the best under Obamacare, according to CNBC, and it looks like stocks in health care giants are continuing to climb. That may not be great for physicians’ private practices and small insurers — and it’s definitely not what Obamacare was sold as.

“They are the villains in this,” then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said of large private insurers in July 2009. “They can disguise their arguments any way they want, but the fact is that they don’t want the competition.”

“Of course they’ve been immoral all along in how they have treated the people that they insure with pre-existing conditions, you know, the litany of it all,” Pelosi charged.

WellPoint, which Democrats used as a poster child in 2010 for insurers’ so-called discrimination, has gained 751,000 subscribers through Obamacare exchanges and almost 699,000 through Medicaid, according to The New York Times. Growth in government health insurance is proving lucrative for the company: government business it accounts for 45 percent of its operating revenues.

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