The word is right there in the name of the law: “Affordable.” The ACA promised to bring health insurance down to earth, letting uninsured people buy policies that didn’t break the bank, and bringing the astonishing cost of medical care into reach for all Americans.

What’s becoming clear, three years in, is that “affordable” depends where you look. Twenty million more people are covered and tens of millions of others have broader benefits because of Obamacare. But many insurers, faced with new coverage requirements and competition on premiums, have shifted costs onto consumers.

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New failures are piling up among the member-run health insurance co-ops carrying out one of the Affordable Care Act’s most idealistic goals, leaving just seven remaining when the health law’s fourth enrollment season starts in the fall.

There were 23 in 2014.

For the rest — which all posted annual losses in 2015, according to the National Alliance of State Health Co-Ops — survival is job No. 1. Some are diversifying to serve larger employers, no longer limiting themselves to their ACA mandate to offer health plans to individuals and small businesses. A Maryland co-op has sued the federal government to avoid paying millions of dollars to other insurers under the ACA’s complex formula to keep premiums stable by balancing risks among insurers and helping ailing ones. Other co-ops are trying to renegotiate contracts with hospitals and other providers.

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Illinois moved Tuesday to take control of Land of Lincoln Health to begin an orderly shutdown of the insurance company, meaning about 49,000 people will lose their health coverage in the coming months.

The state said it will allow policyholders to buy coverage from a different insurer before their Land of Lincoln plans are terminated, but it’s unclear when the policies will lapse.

“It’s a bad day for the marketplace in Illinois and our consumers,” said Jason Montrie, president and interim CEO of Chicago-based Land of Lincoln. “This is the end.”

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The number of insurers carrying out one of the Affordable Care Act’s most idealistic goals continues to plummet, with just seven nonprofit member-run health plans set to take part in the law’s fourth enrollment season this fall.

That’s down from 23 such plans — co-ops, as they are commonly known — that started in 2014. Eleven are still in business, but four in Oregon, Ohio, Connecticut and Illinois will fold soon because of financial insolvency. Just Tuesday, the Land of Lincoln Mutual Health Insurance Co. was ordered to close by Illinois regulators.

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If you’re looking to find a smashing Obamacare success story—a place where the nation’s biggest and most controversial new law in a generation has truly lived up to its promise—you might stick a pin directly in North Carolina.
The central pledge of the Affordable Care Act was to make insurance available to people who didn’t have it, creating a new safety net for millions nationwide. And in North Carolina that’s exactly what happened. People flocked to the program: More than 600,000 people there signed up for Obamacare policies in 2016, and roughly 90 percent of those got financial help to pay their insurance bills, also through Obamacare. Thanks directly to the ACA, the number of people without health insurance in North Carolina has plummeted by 30 percent in the past three years. Far more people are covered, and far more of them can afford their health insurance.

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Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an analysis of Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange plan deductibles. Because the analysis presents data in a misleading way, it draws inaccurate conclusions about the current status of the ACA. This short post provides readers with key missing pieces.

Although it is more common to present the average than the median in statistical analysis, showing both is often done to describe the data being presented. HHS’ analysis relied exclusively on the median plan deductible ($850) and did not include the weighted average plan deductible.

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Oregon’s nonprofit ObamaCare health insurance co-op is winding down operations due to financial problems, the second such announcement this week for the troubled co-op program.

The announcement is just the latest in a long string of failures of ObamaCare’s co-ops, non-profit health insurers set up to increase competition with established insurers. Before this week, just 10 of the original 23 co-ops remained functioning, and Republicans have seized on the problems.

Oregon’s Department of Consumer and Business Services announced Friday that it is taking over the insurer, known as Oregon’s Health CO-OP, and will liquidate the company.

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Evergreen Health Cooperative must pay $24.2 million to its biggest competitor because of an Affordable Care Act program that aims to level the playing field for insurers taking on riskier customers from state health insurance exchanges.

Evergreen, an innovative insurer established under the new law by former Baltimore Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson, is not alone in having to pay for its healthier clients. Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States owes $14.7 million and Aetna will shell out $11.8 million.

The Obama administration has been illegally funding Obamacare “Cost Sharing Reduction” (CSR) payments for years over the objections of IRS officials, according to a report released today by the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Key findings:

-The administration initially submitted a CSR appropriations request for Fiscal Year 2014, but later withdrew it and began making payments illegally.

-CSR payments were created as one way to artificially hide the true costs of Obamacare through a web of government spending programs.

-After officials from the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) withdrew the CSR appropriations request, the administration begun illegally shifting funds from a separate appropriation.

-IRS officials expressed concern that this method of funding CSR payments was illegal so were briefed on the memorandum.

-Following this meeting, IRS officials continued to have concerns that the CSR payments violated federal law and raised concerns with IRS Chief John Koskinen.

-Shortly thereafter, DoJ and Treasury officials officially approved the decision to use an unrelated appropriation to make CSR payments.

 

A nearly $150 million bill from the federal government has taxpayer-funded Obamacare plans angry, with some experts wondering if more co-ops could shut down in the coming months.

When the Obama administration last week announced payments under the risk adjustment program for the 2015 benefit year, the news wasn’t good for the 10 Obamacare consumer oriented and operated plans, or co-ops, that remain out of the 23 original plans, which owe more than $150 million to the government.

On Tuesday, the payments claimed one victim, as Connecticut’s insurance regulator shut down the HealthyCT co-op after it learned it owed $13.4 million in risk adjustment payments.

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