Dr. Zeke Emanuel, former White House adviser for health policy and the vice provost for Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, claims that UnitedHealth was not successful in their Obamacare endeavor because “they got a lot more sicker patients.”
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday, Emanuel downplayed the nation’s largest insurer leaving the Obamacare business claiming it was not “that big of a deal.” (RELATED: America’s Largest Health Insurer Pulls Out Of Most Obamacare Exchanges)
Host Joe Scarborough, noted that last week Emanuel said Obamacare was going “swimmingly well,” but then said, “This obviously is a big blow to the future of Obamacare, isn’t it?”
Emanuel replied, “No, I don’t think it’s a big blow. … First of all, United was a never big player in the exchanges. It came in very tepidly initially and has not been very aggressive or interested in the exchanges,” noted the Washington Free Beacon.
Later, Emanuel said that UnitedHealth “only had about six percent of the enrollees in the exchanges, so it’s not really that big an upset for the whole thing.”
“So, I think there’s a lot more attention on it because it is the biggest insurer in the country, but again, it’s never been a big player in the exchange world,” Emanuel argued. “So I would not say that it’s that big a deal.”
Scarborough retorted, “But if the economics don’t work for UnitedHealthCare, why do the economics work for any insurance company?”
Emanuel replied, “Well, one reason the economics probably don’t work for United is that they came in late, and they got a lot more sicker patients.”
Fellow panelist and Spine specialist Dr. Dave Campbell cut in insisting, “I disagree, because what we know that’s happening with UnitedHealthCare is the same as the canary in the coal mine. This is the first of many insurers that will bail out of the exchanges.”
“It’s already been stated by other insurers in their board meetings,” Campbell said. “Each insurer that is participating in the Affordable Care Act is losing money.”
Campbell went on to say that another insurer, BlueCross BlueShield is “close behind” and that other insurance companies are merging.