Only one way to stop Obamacare rate hikes in Delaware

Filed in Delaware by on October 14, 2015

Delaware Obamacare

Despite my political views leaning solidly to the left, my bleeding-heart never really beat too loudly for Obamacare. Now, Delaware residents are facing double-digit rate hikes by insurers.

The good news is we have a system right here in this country that could easily be adapted to provide citizens with truly affordable health care, and alleviate businesses of what is most often the second-largest cost on their balance sheet.

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About the Author ()

Rob Tornoe is a local cartoonist and columnist, and can be seen in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Press of Atlantic City, The News Journal, and the Dover Post chain of newspapers. He's also a contributor to Media Matters and WHYY. Web site: Twitter: @RobTornoe

Comments (14)

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  1. Jason330 says:

    Rob – You were on my TV. Nice job.

  2. Dorian Gray says:

    You gotta link up… it wasn’t provided but it’s worth a read.

    Another example of Capitalism’s failure.

  3. Steve Newton says:

    Dorian Gray–in the sense that people commonly equate “capitalism” with a “free market economy” (I don’t, along with Fernand Braudel and Immanuel Wallerstein, but American rhetoric tends to), then the health insurance industry has never been a capitalist endeavor. Both by corporate intent and government regulation virtually all competitive measures have been systematically removed from the process for the past several decades.

    For example, it was the Delaware General Assembly and the Insurance Commissioner who handed Highmark a monopoly on private insurance in Delaware, and the Secretary of DHSS who then invited Highmark to take over one-third of the Medicaid contracts in the state. Right now, Highmark has more customers in Delaware than Medicare and all other Medicaid providers combined.

    Let’s also not forget that it isn’t a market failure that has delayed legislation allowing greater latitude (and therefore lower costs) to nurse practitioners in Delaware–in point of fact it has been the insurance companies lobbying the legislature not to cut in on their profits.

    The inability of the Federal government to create uniform standards of coverage has allowed six multi-billion-dollar (and often, like Highmark, theoretical “non-profits”) to divided the country up into regions in which no competition is allowed.

    As bad as the ACA Insurance menu is in Delaware (87-91% of the selections going to Highmark), it’s worse in West Virginia, where ONLY Highmark is on the menu, or in Pennsylvania where Highmark is not just providing insurance, but–in moves supported by both the State and Federal government regulators–purchasing hospital chains, urgent care chains, optometry chains, and even large physician practices so it can not only provide the insurance, but also the treatment, paying to itself what it collects from the premiums.

    This is a gigantic failure, all right, but to ascribe this to a failure of capitalism, when it has actually been one of the most monumental public policy failures in the past two decades (past Presidents of both parties) is simply ridiculous.

  4. Rob Tornoe says:

    @Dorian Thanks! I forgot to add the link. It’s there now.

  5. Steve Newton says:

    To be honest I’d almost rather be wrong than supported by the Mises Institute, of which–even as a Libertarian–I’m not a big fan.

    Nor does the cited article really make an argument similar to the one I am making.

  6. Rusty Dils says:

    There is only one way to “fix” the Unaffordable care act, elect Carly Fiorina

  7. Anon says:

    Calling for more choices is calling for competition. The article is about competition.

  8. SussexAnon says:

    But creating monopolies by any means necessary (including legislatively) to maximize profits IS American Capitalism.

  9. Liberal Elite says:

    “Only one way to stop Obamacare rate hikes in Delaware”

    Really? only one? I can easily think of two other ways.

    1. How about allowing people to buy plans from other nearby states?

    2. How about offering a DE public option?

  10. Steve Newton says:


    1. Buying plans from nearby states would require changes in the laws at both ends, and effectively would require Congress to enact nationwide standards on health insurance. Right now the insurance industry owns enough congressmen to keep that from happening.

    2. A public option in DE–regardless of how you feel about it ideologically–has serious challenges. The first is funding: repeated examinations of the funding mechanisms proposed for such a public option don’t actually raise sufficient money to pay for it. The second is services–unlike a larger state like Massachusetts, Delaware does not offer a full range of medical services within the State. There are significant surgeries, for example, like most organ transplants, that you cannot get here. These tend to be the most “high end” in terms of cost. The problem with an DE stand-alone public option is that DE has no effective means of bargaining down the costs for those services one can only receive out of state.

    The economic and service provision realities of public options appears to be that you really only have three viable options: (a) national Medicare-for-all; (b) public options in the larger states with fully comprehensive care options; or (c) public options in regional consortia between smaller states, or smaller states plus larger states. Simply put, the obstacles in front of (b) and particularly (c) are large enough that, really, the only viable (politically, economically, and provisionally) public option is really national Medicare for all.

  11. mouse says:

    The medical/pharma industries have never had to compete for anything.

  12. Steve Newton says:

    And, mouse, why is that? The main reason is government policy that has encouraged the growth of regional and national monopolies. When Karen Weldin Stewart was angling for the Highmark takeover of BCBS of Delaware back in about 2012 she repeatedly said that consumers needed one very large company capable of using economies of scale and “bargaining power” in order to keep consumer costs down.

    Yep. And how’s that been working out for us?

  13. mouse says:

    Yeah. The middle class is doomed.