Aetna’s decision to abandon its ObamaCare expansion plans and rethink its participation altogether came as a surprise to many. It shouldn’t have. Everything that’s happened now was predicted by the law’s critics years ago.
Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said that this was supposed to be a break-even year for its ObamaCare business. Instead, the company has already lost $200 million, which it expect that to hit $320 million before the year it out. He said the company was abandoning plans to expand into five other states and is reviewing whether to stay in the 15 states where Aetna (AET) current sells ObamaCare plans.
Aetna’s announcement follows UnitedHealth Group’s (UNH) decision to leave most ObamaCare markets, Humana’s (HUM) decision to drop out of some, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s announcement that it was quitting the individual market in Minnesota, and the failure of most of the 23 government-created insurance co-ops.
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Humana is the latest health insurer to significantly pull back its participation selling subsidized individual coverage under the Affordable Care Act, announcing plans to scale back next year to “no more than 156 counties” across 11 states.
The decision means Humana will reduce its Obamacare geographic presence by nearly 1,200 counties from the 1,351 counties across 19 states where the insurer currently sells individual coverage on exchanges under the health law now. UnitedHealth Group is scaling back to three states and Aetna said this week it was evaluating its participation in 15 states and wouldn’t expand to new states next year.
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Hospital system Catholic Health Initiatives’ experiment with health insurance has hit the end of the road after a couple years of heavy losses. CHI is “exploring options to sell” its health plan subsidiary, executives said in new financial documents.
The documents, released this week to bondholders, explain that top CHI executives “decided to exit the health insurance business” in May after undergoing a strategic review in March. CHI’s consolidated insurance division, QualChoice Health, formerly known as Prominence Health, has hemorrhaged money since its inception. QualChoice sells Medicare Advantage plans and commercial plans to employers in six states.
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July has been rough for Obamacare’s non-profit co-op health plans. Four closed after running out of money — three in just one week. Just seven of the original 23 co-ops are still standing. Those seven all lost money last year — and may yet go out of business before the calendar turns to 2017.
All that failure has been pricey. Taxpayers are out $1.7 billion in federal loans that these co-ops will never pay back.
The co-ops stand out as perfect examples of how Obamacare’s idea of government-managed “competition” is doomed to fail.
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A network of clinics that serves low-income patients in rural Northern California is finally finding balance after being deluged with newly insured patients under the Affordable Care Act.
After a more than two-year moratorium on nearly all new adult patients, the Redding-based Shasta Community Health Center has reopened its doors to some newcomers this month, and it will start accepting more new patients in September.
When Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid, was first expanded under the Affordable Care Act in early 2014, the number of people insured under the program doubled to around 40,000 people in the region served by Shasta Community Health. Not only did the clinics see new patients, but the demand for services soared from existing ones who were newly insured.
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A company that offers health insurance plans in New Hampshire under the Affordable Care Act is suing the federal government over a part of the health care law.
The lawsuit from Minuteman Health aims to block the current form of the federal Risk Adjustment program, which aims to stabilize the health care market by spreading the costs that come from covering sicker people among insurers with healthier clients.
CEO Tom Policelli says what’s actually happened is that health care co-ops like Minuteman pay millions to their larger competitors that offer more expensive plans.
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A new wave of failures among ObamaCare’s nonprofit health insurers is disrupting coverage for thousands of enrollees and raising questions about whether regulators could have acted earlier to head off some of the problems.
Four ObamaCare co-ops have failed due to financial problems since the beginning of the year, the latest trouble for the struggling program.
The co-ops were set up under ObamaCare to increase competition with established insurers, but just seven of the original 23 co-ops now remain.
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The Kaiser Family Foundation’s most recent Employer Health Benefits Survey found that among firms with 50 or more full-time-equivalent workers (i.e., the one’s subject to Obamacare’s employer mandate):
“four percent of these firms reported changing some job classifications from full-time to part-time so employees in those jobs would not be eligible for health benefits”
“four percent of these firms reported that they reduced the number of employees they intended to hire because of the cost of providing health benefits” . , and 10% of firms reported doing just the opposite and converting part-time jobs to full-time jobs”
This is unequivocal empirical evidence that Obamacare has had some of the adverse effects on employment predicted for years by Obamacare critics: a shift towards part-time work and even a reduction in hiring. But according to the same survey, the latter impact was offset due to the 10% of employers who converted part-time jobs to full-time jobs in order to make them eligible for health benefits.
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Small businesses have been pumping the brakes on offering health benefits to their employees since 2009, according to new data from the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
“The fact is that small employers were less likely to offer these benefits to begin with,” Paul Fronstin, EBRI’s director of health research and education program and author of the report, told Bloomberg BNA July 28. “While the ACA was designed to try to get more small employers to” offer health insurance, “it hasn’t.”
The proportion of employers offering health benefits fell between 2008 and 2015 for all three categories of small employer, EBRI found: by 36 percent for those with fewer than 10 employees, by 26 percent for those with 10 to 24 workers and by 10 percent for those with 25 to 99 workers.
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Since Obamacare’s rollout in the fall of 2013, 16 co-ops that launched with money from the federal government have collapsed.
The co-ops, or consumer operated and oriented plans, were started under the Affordable Care Act as a way to boost competition among insurers and expand the number of health insurance companies available to consumers living in rural areas.
Now, just seven co-ops—Wisconsin’s Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative; Maryland’s Evergreen Health Cooperative; Maine Community Health Options; Massachusetts’ Minuteman Health; Montana Health Cooperative; New Mexico Health Connections; and Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey—remain.
Thomas Miller, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who is an expert in health policy, said each of the seven remaining co-ops have “warning indicators” leading up to when, and if, they fail.
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