Here’s some bad news for the insurance industry: Unexpectedly generous corporate subsidies didn’t save companies selling ObamaCare policies from bleeding red ink. The worse news: Those subsidies are set to expire in 2017, meaning that insurers will have to make ends meet without billions in handouts.
Those are among the matters discussed in a study by the Mercatus Center, authored by Brian Blase, Edmund Haislmaier, and Doug Badger. Thestudy, based on detailed data derived from insurer regulatory filings for the 2014 benefit year, finds that companies that sold ObamaCare plans in the individual market lost more than $2.2 billion, despite receiving $6.7 billion (an average of $833 per enrollee) in “reinsurance” subsidies. Those reinsurance payments were 40 percent more generous on a per-enrollee basis than insurers had expected when they set their 2014 premiums.
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Even before President Obama leaves office, ObamaCare has begun unraveling.
The law was passed over the objections of a majority of Americans, it is still opposed by a majority of Americans — and their opposition has been vindicated. Last week, UnitedHealth Group announced that, after estimated losses of more than $1 billion for 2015 and 2016 under ObamaCare, the company was pulling out of most of its ill-fated exchanges. In fact, commercial insurers across the country are hemorrhaging money on ObamaCare at alarming rates.
The president promised these insurers taxpayer bailouts if they lost money, but Congress in its wisdom passed legislation barring the use of taxpayer dollars to prop up the insurers. Without the bailouts, commercial insurers are being forced to eat their losses — while more than half of the ObamaCare nonprofit insurance cooperatives created under the law failed.
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A new note from JPMorgan economist Jesse Edgerton looks at what is happening with Americans who are working part-time for “economic reasons” — or Americans involuntarily working part time. As you can see in the above chart — the red line — the numbers remains elevated despite big declines in the U-3 and U-6 jobless rates. Edgerton:
There has been little recent relationship between the number of “extra” part-time workers and the level of U3 unemployment, questioning the idea that driving U3 down further will reduce involuntary part-time employment. . . In a note last year, we pointed out that the shift strikingly coincided with the passage of the ACA, which included an employer mandate to provide health insurance to employees working 30 or more hours per week. . . passage of the ACA preceded a large and unprecedented shift from workers working more than 30 hours per week to just under 30 hours. We continue to believe that the ACA can explain a significant number of the “extra” involuntary part-time workers.
Before the passage of ObamaCare’s 2,400 pages of coercive mandates and profligate spending, the federal government had already largely wrecked the market for individually purchased insurance, in three interconnected ways.
First, it had effectively established two different health insurance markets—employer-based and individually purchased—by treating them differently in the tax code. Second, it had given an attractive tax break for employer-based insurance while denying it for individually purchased insurance (except for the self-employed). Third, having effectively split the market in two while favoring the employer-based side, it had made it hard for people to move from the employer-based market to the individual market, as it had allowed insurers to treat previously covered conditions as “preexisting.”
A popular conservative alternative, then, would repeal every word of ObamaCare while fixing this longstanding inequity in the tax code.
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Health jobs grew more than two thirds faster than non-health jobs in March, they comprised 37,000 (17 percent) of nonfarm civilian jobs added (215,000).
There is significant increase in health services jobs under Obamacare. It is unlikely we will bend the curve of health spending as long as we keep adding relatively unproductive health services jobs.
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.
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.
The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t tell the 10 million uninsured tax filers that their low and moderate incomes likely mean their households qualify for Medicaid or subsidies to buy coverage on the insurance exchanges.
Only the top five insurers have profits in excess of $1 billion. All the others had 2014 profits of less than $300 million. But the top five also have membership of at least 20 million, with Humana being the lowest (21.4 million) and CIGNA and UnitedHealthGroup having the highest (86 and 85 million members worldwide, respectively).
When you divide a figure measured in billions by membership measured in many millions, the resultant is rather modest. The average Fortune 500 health insurer earned profits of only $51 per member in 2014. Thus we could trim the monthly health insurance premium by about $4.25 were we to confiscate all those “obscene profits” and give them back to plan members.
Highmark Health lost $590 million in its health plans that were sold on the ACA exchange in 2015. Highmark is still owed $500 million under the risk-corridor program, and HHS has said it will find a way to fund the program. Highmark Health CEO, David Holmberg said Highmark has met with government officials “regularly to discuss how they plan to honor their commitment.”