Sharyl Attkisson: Insurance 'Death Spiral' Could Cause ObamaCare's 'Collapse'

Besides facing a "credibility death spiral" on the issue of ObamaCare, as political director John Dickerson recently put it, Sharyl Attkisson pointed out on Tuesday's CBS Evening News that the very structure of the so-called reform could encounter a separate "death spiral" due to the "enrollment fiasco" surrounding HealthCare.gov.

Attkisson cited unnamed health care analysts, who predicted a doomsday scenario for President's Obama's supposed signature achievement: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]

SHARYL ATTKISSON: The 23 small co-ops across the country that are part of Affordable Care are intended to provide competition. As they adjust to stay afloat, some analysts worry that ObamaCare, as designed, might not. Their biggest fear is that with the website problems, more of the enrollees will be the sickest and most motivated. If that happens, insurers would have no choice but to raise premiums, and that could cause more healthy customers to flee. In the insurance industry, it's known as the 'death spiral', and experts say if that were to come to pass, the ObamaCare business model would collapse.

The CBS correspondent spotlighted one of these health insurance co-ops – Evergreen Health of Maryland – and noted how the CEO had to "blow up his business plan" because of HealthCare.gov's numerous failures. Evergreen Health had originally focused on signing up individuals, but is now pursuing small businesses "the old-fashioned way, with phone calls and TV ads."

Later in the segment, Attkisson revealed a sobering piece of information: the co-op's CEO stated that "he only knows for sure of a dozen people signing up for Evergreen so far". The journalist then added, "for context...the Affordable Care law is counting on signing up seven million people over the next six months. That averages to about 39,000 people a day."


Earlier, anchor Scott Pelley introduced Attkisson's report by recapping correspondent Jan Crawford's reporting from Tuesday's CBS This Morning – that "more than two million Americans are getting notices that they can no longer keep their [health insurance] policies – including 279,000 in California; Michigan, 140,000; Florida, 300,000; and in New Jersey, 800,000".

[Update, Wednesday, 7:07 pm Eastern: the full transcript of Sharyl Attkisson's report from Tuesday's CBS Evening News is available at MRC.org.]

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center