Iowa on Tuesday submitted to the federal government a final request to make changes to try to shore up its struggling ObamaCare insurance marketplace.

The plan from the Iowa Insurance Division is intended to be a short-term market stabilization solution to entice more insurers into the marketplace. The state is facing what it calls a “collapse” of its ObamaCare marketplace after all but one insurer declined to offer plans for 2018.

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In Iowa, the state’s sole remaining insurer announced on Thursday that it wants to boost ObamaCare premiums by 57%. This isn’t exactly the vibrant, competitive, low-cost market that Democrats promised. But it is the inevitable outcome of ObamaCare’s government-knows-best approach to health care.

Earlier this year, Aetna and Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield announced that they were pulling out of Iowa’s ObamaCare exchange, leaving only Medica, which was also threatening to leave. Not surprisingly, Medica has used its newfound monopoly status to push for increasingly higher rates, while trying to pin the blame President Trump for the increases.
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Those predisposed to like the Affordable Care Act are pointing to the dwindling number of counties in which no insurer is willing to sell insurance. The fear of numerous “bare counties” appears to have gone away. Their celebration is understandable: those predisposed to dislike the Affordable Care Act had cited the number of bare counties as evidence of Obamacare’s implosion.

But the argument over bare counties is only part of the story. The mere existence of an insurance policy available for sale is a pretty low bar. It’s like saying a hotel succeeded because it was actually built, never mind that no one came because its rooms were priced too high for the value provided.

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The government will make this month’s payments to insurers under the Obama-era health care law that President Donald Trump still wants to repeal and replace, a White House official said Wednesday.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to end the payments, which help reduce health insurance copays and deductibles for people with modest incomes, but remain under a legal cloud.

A White House spokesman said “the August payment will be made,” insisting on anonymity to discuss the decision ahead of the official announcement. The so-called “cost-sharing” subsidies total about $7 billion this year and are considered vital to guarantee stability for consumers who buy their own individual health insurance policies.

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The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires insurers to offer plans with reduced deductibles, copayments, and other means of cost sharing to some of the people who purchase plans through the marketplaces established by that legislation. The size of those reductions depends on those people’s income. In turn, insurers receive federal payments arranged by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to cover the costs they incur because of that requirement. At the request of the House Democratic Leader and the House Democratic Whip, the Congressional Budget Office and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have estimated the effects of terminating those payments for cost-sharing reductions (CSRs). In particular, the agencies analyzed what would happen under this policy: By the end of this month, it is known that CSR payments will continue through December 2017 but not thereafter.
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A majority of cities—71 percent—will see Obamacare premiums rise by double-digits next year as more health insurers drop out of the exchanges, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The foundation analyzed data in the 20 states and in Washington, D.C. that had submitted rate filings to examine how much premiums were rising and how many insurers were participating on the exchanges.

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The Trump administration is giving health insurance companies more time to calculate price increases for 2018 because of uncertainty caused by the president’s threat to cut off crucial subsidies paid to insurers on behalf of millions of low-income people.

Federal health officials said the deadline for insurers to file their rate requests would be extended by nearly three weeks, to Sept. 5.

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The second-lowest silver plan is one of the most popular plan choices on the marketplace and is also the benchmark that is used to determine the amount of financial assistance individuals and families receive. Based on preliminary 2018 rate filings, the second-lowest silver premium for a 40-year-old non-smoker will range from $244 in Detroit, MI to $631 in Wilmington, DE, before accounting for the tax credit that most enrollees in this market receive.

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Unlike the double-digit percentage rate hikes individuals purchasing coverage under the Affordable Care Act will see next year, those with coverage at large employers will face single-digit increases, a new national survey of large employers shows.

The National Business Group on Health said Tuesday the percentage increase large companies will see next year is similar to 5% cost increases employers have experienced for five years.

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U.S. health insurer Anthem Inc said on Monday it will no longer offer Obamacare plans in Nevada’s state exchange and will stop offering the plans in nearly half of Georgia’s counties next year.

The moves come after Republican senators last month failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform law, creating uncertainty over how the program providing health benefits to 20 million Americans will be funded and managed in 2018.

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