The Senate is taking baby steps toward a health care bill amid serious disagreement among lawmakers. But the health care industry waits for no one, and insurers are growing increasingly rattled by a combination of inaction in Congress and outright threats of sabotage from the White House.
Customers could soon be paying the price.
Insurance companies, which are reaching deadlines to submit premiums for the individual health care market and to decide whether to sell policies at all, say the uncertainty is driving their premiums higher and their participation lower. These complaints come on top of existing problems in Obamacare markets that would have demanded attention if Democrats had won.
More from NBC News:
Regardless of what lawmakers do in the long run, the time may have already passed for Congress to rescue the 2018 insurance market from the negative effects of the current debate. Insurers are putting in their initial bids for premiums and will finalize their plans in September. That means even a temporary fix would likely fail to shield customers from the effects of uncertainty.
"We needed to have the answers three months ago," Bob Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a consulting firm in Washington, D.C., told NBC News.
With the market rapidly reaching a point of no return, the political fight in Washington could shift from the future of health care to which party is to blame for its present.