Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska announced Friday that is pulling out of the ObamaCare marketplace in the state, becoming the latest insurer to cite financial losses when reducing participation in the healthcare law.
The move is especially significant given that it is a Blue Cross plan, which form the backbone of the ObamaCare marketplaces. In a few states, the Blue Cross plan will be the only one available on the marketplace next year.
Nebraska, though, will still have two insurers, Aetna and Medica, on its marketplace next year.
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Congressional Republicans are warning the Obama administration not to settle with insurers that have sued the government over an Affordable Care Act program to compensate them for losses under the law, saying such a move would bypass spending limits set by Congress.
Forty-six House Republicans signed a letter sent Thursday to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell saying they oppose any settlements and could sue the administration to block them.
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Yahoo Finance’s Ethan Wolff-Mann, who may have the best name in journalism, writes it’s not true that ObamaCare has caused employers to reduce workers’ hours because the new Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research Educational Trustsurvey found “a whopping 7% of employers with more than 50 employees actually gave part-timers full-time jobs since Obamacare was officially launched in 2013. Only 2% of employers cut full-timers to part-time.” Leaving aside the question of whether 7 percent is a whopping figure, the figures Wolff-Mann cites don’t necessarily support his claim.
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The premium-stabilization programs of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will expire this year, and even insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield — once considered the companies of last resort — are considering leaving the exchanges.
While many Blues plans continue to assert their commitment to the ACA market, successive rate hikes and insurer withdrawals from the exchanges temper their assurances.
“These Blue Cross plans will stay longer, but they can’t stay forever,” said Robert -Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates and former insurance executive. Laszewski, a consultant for the plans, added that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas lost 40 percent of its reserves in the first two years of ObamaCare. “They can’t continue losing surplus forever.”
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Some of the nation’s largest companies are already taking steps to avoid ObamaCare’s “Cadillac tax,” according to a business survey released Wednesday.
About 12 percent of companies said they have taken steps to avoid being hit by the much-maligned tax on high-priced health insurance plans, which goes into effect in 2020.
Employers say they have either shifted more costs to workers, dropped their pricier options or picked plans with fewer providers, according to the annual employer benefits survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust.
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A grace period in President Barack Obama’s health care law is allowing exchange customers to dodge the penalty while also helping them get more out of their medical coverage.
Insurers told the administration Monday in an annual meeting that making changes to the grace period is one way to make it easier for them to continue to participate in Obamacare’s exchanges. As is, the grace period leads to higher costs for health insurance policies, forcing some insurers to leave the exchanges due to massive financial losses.
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A top Obama administration health official indicated Wednesday that there are discussions underway about a settlement with insurance companies over Obamacare payments. This possibility has drawn alarm from Republican lawmakers, who warn that the administration is seeking to get around limitations set by Congress. Several insurers have sued the administration for funds they are owed under an Obamacare program called risk corridors, which is meant to protect insurers from heavy losses in the early years of the health law. A shortfall in funds has limited payouts. Congress enacted a provision preventing the administration from shifting funds into the program in 2014 but warn that judicial settlements now could be a way around that prohibition, for what they term to be a “bailout” of insurers.
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Five Senators are questioning Aetna’s decision to retreat from nearly a dozen Obamacare markets next year and how the decision is tied to the federal government’s attempt to block its proposed merger with Humana, which is being challenged by a Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) sent a letter to Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini Thursday questioning the insurers’ change in perspective about its participation in the Obamacare exchanges this summer after the Department of Justice sued to block the proposed merger.
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Health insurance executives went to the White House on Monday and called for changes to ObamaCare that they say are necessary to keep the healthcare exchanges working.
The executives discussed a series of their long-running complaints about ObamaCare including tightening up the rules for extra sign-up periods, shortening grace periods for people who fail to pay their premiums and easing restrictions on setting premiums based on someone’s age.
Insurers say these changes would help shore up their finances. Several large insurers have in recent months announced they are pulling back from ObamaCare, citing financial losses.
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The best measurement of people who lack health insurance, the National Health Interview Survey published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has released early estimates of health insurance for all fifty states and the District of Columbia in the first quarter of 2016. There are three things to note.
First: 70.2 percent of residents, age 18 to through 64, had “private health insurance” (at the time of the interview) in the first quarter of this year, which is which is the same rate as persisted until 2006. Obamacare has not achieved a breakthrough in coverage. It has just restored us to where we were a decade ago. Further, the contribution of Obamacare’s exchanges to this is almost trivial, covering only four million people.
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