Articles on the implementation of ObamaCare.
Marilyn Tavenner, the face of private insurers, does not think Affordable Care Act exchanges are about to implode. But she does think Congress will have to make some tough decisions relatively soon about how much to buffer insurers from risk.
“I do not think the exchanges are in a death spiral. I do think they’re unstable, and we have a responsibility to stabilize them,” said Tavenner, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, in an interview with Morning Consult. “That’s on all of us.”
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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois will be the only insurer offering PPO health insurance plans on the state’s Obamacare exchange next year, according to information released Friday by the state Department of Insurance.
That’s down from five insurers that offered individual PPO plans on the exchange this year. Many consumers prefer PPO health plans because, unlike HMO plans, they allow patients to see specialist doctors without a referral and see physicians who are out-of-network, albeit at higher costs.
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More than 250,000 people in North Carolina are losing the health plans they bought under the Affordable Care Act because two of the three insurers are dropping out — a stark example of the disruption roiling marketplaces in many parts of the country.
The defections mean that almost all of the state, from the Blue Ridge to the Outer Banks, will have just one insurer selling ACA policies when the exchanges open again for business in November. The remaining company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, agonized over whether to leave, too. Instead, it is raising its rates by nearly 25 percent.
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A growing number of people in Obamacare are finding out their health insurance plans will disappear from the program next year, forcing them to find new coverage even as options shrink and prices rise.
At least 1.4 million people in 32 states will lose the Obamacare plan they have now, according to state officials contacted by Bloomberg. That’s largely caused by Aetna Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc. and some state or regional insurers quitting the law’s marketsfor individual coverage.
Sign-ups for Obamacare coverage begin next month. Fallout from the quitting insurers has emerged as the latest threat to the law, which is also a major focal point in the U.S. presidential election.
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Obamacare will likely see a “significant slowdown” in enrollment next year, a Thursday analysis from S&P Global Ratings projects.
The report suggests effectuated marketplace enrollment will range between 10.2 million and 11.6 million in 2017. The analysts say their forecast “is clearly a bump in the road, but doesn’t signal ‘game over’ for the marketplace.”
“The marketplace would benefit from growth in enrollment, especially if it helps improve the morbidity of the risk pool. But 2017 will likely not be the year the marketplace sees significant expansion,” the report says.
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The problems emerging in the exchanges are a symptom of a larger disease, which is that the ACA moved far too much power and regulatory control over the health sector to the federal government. Building a broader consensus around reform of the individual insurance market will almost certainly require revisiting other fundamental aspects of the ACA that have sharply divided policymakers.
The ACA exchanges will not be able to continue indefinitely without substantial reform. But reform will only be possible if the American public believes that this will not merely be another intrusion into their personal health decisions and their wallets. It will be up to Congress and the next President to decide if America’s health care system is worth the political risk needed to enact responsible and necessary reforms.
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The federal government will choose health plans for hundreds of thousands of consumers whose insurers have left the Affordable Care Act marketplace unless those people opt out of the law’s exchanges or select plans on their own, under a new policy to make sure consumers maintain coverage in 2017.
“Urgent: Your health coverage is at risk,” declares a sample “discontinuation notice,” drafted by the government for use by insurers. It tells consumers that “if you don’t enroll in a plan on your own, you may be automatically enrolled in the plan picked for you.”
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For the sake of competition in Maryland’s Obamacare marketplace — particularly for those who buy insurance as individuals, not through their employers — Evergreen Health needs to survive. CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield had 80 percent of Maryland’s individual insurance market in 2014, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, up from 74 percent three years before. Evergreen, with nearly 40,000 members and growing fast, is expanding in the state at a time when other carriers are pulling back. Though still relatively small, it provides another option for consumers and puts pressure on the dominant carrier to innovate and contain costs.
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A rarely discussed aspect of Obamacare, one that appeared to give states an “exit strategy” to avoid provisions of the health care law, is likely to become more widely known next year.
But while states led by Democrat governors are beginning to see “innovation waivers” as a way to change their health care systems—and move toward proposals such as a public option—states with Republican governors are proceeding with caution.
The waivers come with strings attached by the Obama administration that some policy experts say constrain free market health care reforms as an alternative to government mandates.
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Six and a half years after the ACA was signed into law, health reform no longer feels like a steady forward march toward progress. It feels more like World War I: dotted with landmines, lined with trenches, and ending inconclusively. In 2010, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that 21 million people would be enrolled in the ACA’s insurance exchanges by 2016; as of now, only 12 million are. That gap between hype and reality is likely to further expand over time.
What happened? It’s a long story, of course. But the simple answer is that the ACA’s exchanges were designed poorly and implemented poorly, by overconfident advocates who dismissed any and all criticism, no matter how well-reasoned.
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