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.

. . .

 

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.

Federal officials have been lucky until now, but the Affordable Care Act’s Internet web portal could become a hacker’s playground — with plenty of sensitive data compromised — without a significant tightening of security, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office.

The new warning comes on the sixth anniversary of the enactment of the ACA and addresses security problems related to the personal information — including names, addresses, Social Security numbers and sensitive income and tax details — of literally millions of Americans who have enrolled in the insurance program online through HealthCare.gov.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a white paper detailing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s risk adjustment model Thursday.

“CMS has implemented a risk adjustment program to mitigate the effects of risk selection on health insurance premiums for non-grandfathered plans in the individual and small group markets,” the paper concludes. “The risk adjustment program, supports market stability by pooling risk and transferring funds from plans with more low-risk (i.e., healthier and lower cost) enrollees to those plans with more high-risk (i.e., less healthy and higher cost) enrollees.”

The paper also suggests potential modifications for the 2018 and 2019 benefit years.

The Congressional Budget Office reduced the projected number of people who will enroll on the federal insurance exchanges to 12 million from 21 million in a report released Thursday.

Still, between 2017 and 2026, the CBO projects the number of insured people in the U.S. will grow from 246 million to 253 million. While the number of uninsured is expected to grow from 26 million to 28 million, the portion of uninsured people younger than 65 is expected to stay around 10 percent, according to the report.

In year six, even with lower than anticipated enrollment in the health insurance exchanges and the refusal of 21 states to participate in the law’s Medicaid expansion, the health care cost curve is still on an upwardly mobile trajectory.

It is fueled by sharp increases in both public and private health care spending.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data show that total per capita health insurance spending will rise from $7,786 in 2016 to $11,681 in 2024. Looking at the future of employer-based health insurance costs, the Congressional Budget Office projects that job-based premiums are poised to increase by almost 60 percent between now and 2025.

Based on the data included in this report, it is clear that health insurance premium costs have continued to grow despite the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Furthermore, health care premium costs are rising at a rate comparable to the years directly preceding the election of President Obama and passage of the Affordable Care Act. As costs continue to rise, millions of families will face tough financial choices and make even more sacrifices. For those who have experienced little to no increase in wages, health insurance may simply become unaffordable and the prospect of paying a tax penalty may become another unwanted reality.

For those who have enrolled in new health insurance plans on the exchanges, recent premium increases have been even worse. And in 2016, deductibles have gone up for those very same individuals. Worst of all, the outlook for 2017 is no brighter. As University of Minnesota scholar Stephen Parente’s research estimates, each type of health care plan on the exchanges can expect to see a premium increase, with the average increase being 7.3 percent for families and 11 percent for individuals.

The House Ways and Means Committee advanced a bill Wednesday that would require people who improperly receive insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act to repay the overpayments.

The bill, offered by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), was approved by a vote of 22-14.

Jenkins told the committee the measure was a “simple bill,” about “good governance” and the “duty to protect the tax dollars of hardworking Americans.”

Enrollment in exchange coverage increased from 6.3 million at the end of 2014 to about 8.8 million, according to figures released by the administration at the end of last week.

But Obamacare’s coverage gains have also been more modest than expected, particularly when it comes to the exchanges. And part of the problem seems to be that people who sign up for coverage at the beginning of the year don’t always follow through to keep their coverage effective at the end of the year. It’s a problem that seems to be larger than the administration knew.

Along with releasing end-of-the-year 2015 enrollment data for the Affordable Care Act exchanges last Friday afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services also released data for the 2016 open enrollment period. Just like the end-of-the year 2015 enrollment data, which I discussed on Monday, a close look at the 2016 open enrollment data reveals that the ACA is significantly underperforming initial expectations.

The big story is how little has changed from 2015 to 2016. The number of 2016 exchange enrollees is up only slightly from last year, and the make-up of the risk pool—as proxied by income and age of enrollees—is virtually identical.