United Healthcare’s announcement that it is pulling out of most of the exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act is one of many indications of the law’s continuing instability.
There are many other insurance plans in the same boat. Blue Cross Blue Shield plans have dominated the individual and small-group markets in most states for decades. If they were to abandon this market, they would have less ability than United does to grow their business elsewhere. But many of these plans are nonetheless contemplating such a move.
ObamaCare isn’t likely to enter an insurance death spiral; there’s too much federal money propping the whole thing up. But it isn’t on track to become a stable, self-sustaining insurance pool either, because very few middle-class families want to get their insurance through the exchanges. Which means the law is not only unstable financially, it is politically unstable as well.
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Presidential candidate Donald Trump has said he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and yet still “take care of everybody.” He has said repeatedly that he is different from other Republicans in this regard, implying that other GOP politicians don’t want Americans to get needed health services. Of course, Trump has never bothered to back up this slander with any evidence (and the media haven’t bothered to ask him for it).
Trump is apparently unaware of the plans to replace Obamacare sponsored by Rep. Tom Price and by Sen. Richard Burr, Sen. Orrin Hatch, and Rep. Fred Upton. These plans would insure as many Americans as are enrolled today under the ACA at a fraction of the cost.
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.
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The CEA presentation is notable in reflecting the core components of ACA advocates’ case for the law. It is fourteen slides long, and I find that its points break down into five main themes (in my own words):
- The ACA represents a historic expansion of health insurance coverage.
- The ACA is achieving policy goals such as reducing patient harm and hospital readmissions.
- The ACA is helping to slow the growth of health care costs.
- The ACA has been good for job creation.
- The ACA is improving the federal fiscal outlook.
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.
The Affordable Care Act’s tax increases are many, two are front and center this month: the individual and employer mandates. They were both supposed to increase coverage, but in reality they’re limiting career opportunities and taking more out of families’ and individuals’ wallets.
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.
Obama promised that Obamacare would “save all of us money and reduce pressures on emergency rooms all across the country.” However, a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows, that by doling out insurance coverage to millions more people without doing anything to address America’s growing doctor shortage, the president’s health reform law may make the ER crisis even worse.
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.