Seventeen Obamacare co-ops have now failed. The Health Republic insurance of New Jersey yesterday announced it would close, leaving 35,000 members without coverage next year. The New Jersey co-op, which received almost $110 million in taxpayer loans now joins a list of 16 other Obamacare co-ops that have collapsed since Obamacare has been implemented. In all, failed co-ops have now cost taxpayers more than $1.8 billion in funds that may never be recovered.
Co-ops were hyped as not-for-profit alternatives to traditional insurance companies created under Obamacare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) financed co-ops with startup and solvency loans, totaling more than $2.4 billion in taxpayer dollars. They have failed to become sustainable with many collapsing amid the failure of Obamacare exchanges.
Co-ops across the country have struggled to operate in Obamacare exchanges, losing millions despite receiving enormous government subsidies. Since September last year, 14 Obamacare co-ops have collapsed, with only six of the original 23 co-ops remaining. In July, co-ops in Oregon and Illinois collapsed leaving close to 100,000 without insurance.
Enrollees on one of the failed co-ops also face the risk of being hit with the Obamacare individual mandate tax penalty for not having insurance. In response to the wave of failed co-ops, the House Committee on Ways and Means recently marked up the CO-OP Consumer Protection Act of 2016 (H.R. 954), legislation to protect individuals who were on a failed co-op from this tax. This important legislation should now be considered by the full House and swiftly approved.
The mass failure of co-ops should not be surprising. Larger insurance companies have also struggled to operate in Obamacare exchanges with many announcing they will stop providing coverage.
The web of government subsidies have also failed to provide insurances the funds they were promised. One of these programs – risk corridors -- recouped just 12.6 percent of the funds that insurers requested. The program, which was created to encourage insurers to take on higher risk individuals by transferring funds from insurers who made money to those that posted losses, was required to be budget neutral under law leaving Obamacare insurers with a significant shortfall.
Obamacare co-ops have also been plagued by inept management and unrealistic business models.
As a report by the Daily Caller’s Richard Pollock found, 17 of the 21 co-ops paid out gratuitous salaries to executives reaching as high as $587,000, which is more than four times as much as the $135,000 median health insurance executive salary. Worse still, many of these executives had little to no experience in the insurance industry and some of these excessive salaries were disguised in financial documents as “management fees.” Last year, 21 of 23 co-ops posted losses.
Given the trend of failing Obamacare co-ops, the collapse of the New Jersey co-op will not be the last.
A list of all failed co-ops and their cost to taxpayers compiled by the House Energy and Commerce Committee is found below:
CoOportunity Health - Iowa and Nebraska
Louisiana Health Cooperative, Inc.
Nevada Health Cooperative
Health Republic Insurance of New York
Kentucky Health Care Cooperative - Kentucky and West Virginia
Community Health Alliance Mutual Insurance Company - Tennessee
Health Republic Insurance of Oregon
Consumers' Choice Health Insurance Company - South Carolina
Arches Mutual Insurance Company – Utah
Meritus Health Partners – Arizona
Consumers Mutual Insurance – Michigan
InHealth Mutual – Ohio
HealthyCT – Connecticut
Oregon Health’s CO-OP – Oregon
Land of Lincoln Health – Illinois
Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey
TOTAL TAXPAYER DOLLARS: $1,820,114,940
Note: This total does not include Vermont’s CO-OP, which was denied an insurance license by the state, and was dissolved before enrolling a single person.