A potential shakeup in Arizona’s Affordable Care Act marketplaces is resurrecting President Barack Obama’s 2010 health-care law as a political issue in this year’s U.S. Senate race.

The developments mean customers will have fewer subsidized plans to pick from next year, and in some rural counties, they could have no options at all. UnitedHealthcare, the national insurance giant, on Tuesday signaled that it intends to abandon Arizona’s Affordable Care Act marketplace in 2017. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, the only other insurer to offer plans in all of Arizona’s 15 counties, also is considering pulling out of some areas.

Arizona voters could face a stark choice on the issue in November.

. . .

UnitedHealth is withdrawing from most of the 34 ObamaCare Exchanges in which it currently sells, citing losses of $650 million in 2016. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation report indicates UnitedHealth’s departure will leave consumers on Oklahoma’s Exchange with only one choice of insurance carriers.

Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute explains five results of UnitedHealth’s withdrawal from the exchanges:

1. UnitedHealth’s departure shows ObamaCare is suffering from self-induced adverse selection.

2. UnitedHealth’s departure is bad news for other carriers.

3. UnitedHealth’s departure shows ObamaCare premiums will continue to rise.

4. There will be more exits.

5. UnitedHealth’s departure shows quality of coverage under ObamaCare will continue to fall.

. . .

 

Health jobs grew more than two thirds faster than non-health jobs in March, they comprised 37,000 (17 percent) of nonfarm civilian jobs added (215,000).

There is significant increase in health services jobs under Obamacare. It is unlikely we will bend the curve of health spending as long as we keep adding relatively unproductive health services jobs.

In January, CMS proposed overhauling the way it evaluates if and how much money ACOs are saving in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). Under the revised methodology, the agency would adjust cost benchmarks based on regional rather than national spending data when an ACO signs up for a second three-year contract period.

Of 434 ACOs participating in the program, only 22 have chosen to participate in tracks that include downside risk.

After six years of Obamacare and three years of the exchanges Americans have learned a few lessons. The healthcare.gov disaster was due to the complexity of the website, an awful procurement system, and lack of adequate management by the administrationg. Establishing an insurance company is more than just paying claims, as you can see with the failure of half of the co-op insurers around the country. Finally, people don’t want to spend a lot of money on insurance.

The Association of Medical Colleges released a report that says America will be short a million doctors by 2025 and that the shortage of primary care physicians makes up a third of that number. There are several reasons for the shortage of primary care physicians including “fee for service” payment model and the mandate for doctors to switch to electronic health records (EHR), which is a time consuming, costly addition to physician’s duties.

Obamacare created a system that actually made insurance more expensive, decreasing access to the poor and sick, while pricing out average Americans from affordable health care coverage. Millions more have been added to Medicaid, millions have seen double or triple their annual premiums and millions have opted not to be insured at all.

In the March 8 rule, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stated that Health Savings Account (HSA) eligibility was not a meaningful distinction for health plans because consumers can determine whether a plan is HSA-qualified by examining a plan’s cost-sharing amounts. Therefore, it will not require HSA-qualified plans to be designated as such.

Two main reasons why HSA-qualified plans will not survive is because plans must cover services below the deductible that are not considered “preventative care.” And the plans must apply specific deductibles and out-of-pocket limits that are outside the requirements for HSA-qualified plans.

Employers that offer a health savings account might gain a competitive advantage in employee recruitment and retention. An HSA can significantly reduce employees’ taxes while giving them an important investment option, making an HSA a valuable financial wellness tool, writes Liz Ryan. HSAs can be offered as a long-term benefit like a 401(k) as well as an emergency fund for unexpected expenses, Ryan writes.

The pharmaceutical industry, insurers and the Obama administration all want prescription drugs to be included in determinations about whether a certain pools of patients are riskier than others.

The determinations are important because insurers who take on riskier sets of patients are eligible to receive compensation under Obamacare. Right now, those determinations are made using just medical claims.

Drug companies and insurers generally agree that prescription drugs should be included in the risk adjustment models. They currently are not.