At the beginning of the year Moody’s outlook for the health insurance industry changed from “stable” to “negative” and triggered headlines regarding a possible downgrade. Moody’s CEO Ray McDaniel and his leadership team, along with their many analysts and economists, might have questioned if they would be punished for going negative on health insurance because of the sloppy start of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Charles Krauthammer wondered on Special Report at the time of the announcement if Moody’s could face legal consequences, much like how S&P became involved in a lawsuit when they downgraded the rating of the United States. Fortunately for Moody’s , no such ramifications came, and now Chief Economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics has published an op-ed piece discussing his thoughts, both positive and negative, on Obamacare.
Zandi’s new reflections don’t discount the negative influence the poor implementation of Obamacare has had on the economy, but he says that entrepreneurship could see a rise when fear of losing health coverage is eliminated. He goes on to say that the biggest impact could be that consumers now need to shop around for best deals. Zandi argues that more informed shoppers means lower prices, which would in turn reduce growth in Medicare and Medicaid programs.
He does acknowledge that at the moment, it’s too early to fully determine if Obamacare will be successful or not. But with the administration recently meeting their enrollee goal of 7 million, the success is being slowly cemented. When the target was met, President Obama said, “The bottom line is this: Under this law, the share of Americans with insurance is up, and the growth of health care costs is down, and that’s good for our middle-class and that’s good for our fiscal future.” As Zandi states, only time will tell how true this is.