President Barack Obama's proposed "fix" to his mandatory health insurance nightmare creates more worries, confusion and strife in the private sector.
Obama announced his tweaks Thursday in a contrite and humble manner that, for some, obfuscated the real message: That the system is so messed up that even its chief backer has to admit it's falling down on its own.
Obama proposed allowing insurers to continue offering the policies they're cancelling because they don't meet the Obamacare minimum levels of coverage. This was the president's response to the millions of Americans - whom he refers to as just a few percentage points - who are receiving cancellation notices and skewering his oft-repeated "you can keep your health plan if you like it" promise.
His "fix" is only possible if he has some dictatorial powers over private concerns that even he must admit don't exist (yet) in his world - namely, that he could force the insurers to offer those now-canceled policies or resurrect them despite the companies' business plans for next year, which must already be completed.
Unlike the federal government, insurance companies, as private-sector firms, do operate on actual, hard, factual and complete budgets in order to know profit-and-loss, costs of doing business and the myriad of facts normally required by stockholders, investors, customers and others to determine the performance of a company.
Further, his additional meddling could only exacerbate a problem that has been at the heart of the Obamacare opposition since the system took root. States where signups through state websites have been occurring are noticing what will be an alarming trend: Younger, healthier people aren't among those signing up.
The reasons for that may vary, but the impact is clear. The old and the ill are signing up as a large percentage of users so far, and that means claims could start outstripping premiums paid into the system. Younger people pay for insurance that they don't necessarily use a lot until they're older. It's how insurance has worked. We're all covering for one another until we need the system. Obama has failed, time and again, to demonstrate he understands that basic fundamental of insurance.
And that means for the system to work at all, those private insurance firms, which are bound by the rules of profit and loss that are the root of capitalism, will have to spike their premiums sometime beginning around 2015 to cover the damage to their ability to pay claims.
And that, in turn, means if anyone somehow escapes being impacted during the next year by Obamacare, either through workplace requirement delays or the president's so-called "fix," will be paying higher insurance costs, probably beginning in 2015.
All of that also assumes that insurers don't start going belly up or merging to avoid going belly up.
Obama's own attempt at a "fix" seems to contradict his claims that Obamacare cannot be unwound, unwired and undone right now. He seems to think that he can say it's too far along when it suits him and it's still possible to hold back the clock when that suits him.
It's got to stop, and, hopefully, before the employer cancellation notices or astronomically high premiums for 2014 start flowing in January.