Fresh problems for “Obamacare”: The largest health insurer in Texas wants to raise its rates on individual policies by an average of nearly 60 percent, a new sign that President Barack Obama’s overhaul hasn’t solved the problem of price spikes.
Texas isn’t alone. Citing financial losses under the health care law, many insurers around the country are requesting bigger premium increases for 2017. That’s to account for lower-than-hoped enrollment, sicker-than-expected customers and problems with the government’s financial backstop for insurance markets.
The national picture will take weeks to fill in. With data available for about half the states, premium increases appear to be sharper, but there are also huge differences between states and among insurers. Health insurance is priced locally.
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Ohio’s co-op will become the thirteenth of the 23 co-ops created under the Affordable Care Act to fold.
The Ohio Department of Insurance requested to liquidate the state’s health insurance co-op, InHealth Mutual, the state announced Thursday. Nearly 22,000 Ohio residents will have 60 days to replace their InHealth policy with another company’s on the federal exchange.
“Our examination of the company’s financials made it clear that the company’s losses would prevent it from paying future claims should its operations continue,” Mary Taylor, the Ohio Director of Insurance and the state’s lieutenant governor, said in a statement.
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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, facing massive losses for its ObamaCare plans, has requested a 58% premium hike for 603,000 customers.
The company is pricing in the claims experience of customers that’s been far higher than expected after suffering a $770 million loss on its exchange plans in 2015, equal to 26% of premiums.
Overall, individual market insurers requested a 35% ObamaCare premium hike for about 1.3 million customers, calculated ACASignups.net, based on the full range of insurer filings available.
BCBS of Texas also is seeking an 18% increase for 353,000 members who buy plans via the small group market that caters to businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
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News that a CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield subsidiary will stop selling bronze level plans on the Virginia marketplace next year prompted some speculation that it could signal a developing movement by insurers to drop that level of coverage altogether. The reality may be more complicated and interesting, some experts said, based on an analysis of plan data.
Bronze plans provide the least generous coverage of the four metal tiers offered on the insurance marketplaces, paying 60 percent of benefits on average, compared to 70 percent for silver plans, which are far more popular. During the 2016 open enrollment period, 23 percent of marketplace customers signed up for a bronze plan, compared with 68 percent who chose silver, 6 percent who picked gold and 2 percent who chose a platinum plan.
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The House Oversight Committee released a report Wednesday detailing extreme misconduct surrounding Oregon’s failed $305 million taxpayer funded Obamacare exchange and is calling on the Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation.
“The documents and testimony show Oregon State officials misused $305 million of federal funds and improperly coordinated with former Governor John Kitzhaber’s campaign advisers. Official decisions were made primarily for political purposes. Cover Oregon was established as an independent organization by the legislature, and was not intended to be a wholly controlled subsidiary of the Governor’s political apparatus,” House Oversight Committee Chairman wrote in a letter sent to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
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The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) has proposed a plan to “rebalance” Medicaid eligibility in the Sooner State. Although OHCA’s “plan” so far consists of only a single page of bullet points, what little that is already known makes clear that the plan would gut the existing Insure Oklahoma program and replace it with Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion by another name. Oklahoma policymakers should quickly reject OHCA’s latest proposal to expand Obamacare and refocus their efforts on improving the program for the most vulnerable.
Thousands of kids and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Oklahoma are already sitting on Medicaid waiting lists to get the home and community-based services that they desperately need.
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Health insurers have not had much to cheer about lately, when it comes to Obamacare. They have been losing money on exchanges, and there is little hope that will change. So, a large health plan in Pittsburgh has asked judges to give it Obamacare money the Administration promised, but Congress declined to appropriate.
As reported by Wes Venteicher and Brian Bowling of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Highmark lost $260 million on Obamacare exchanges in 2014, and claims it is owed $223 million by taxpayers. Unfortunately, it received only about $27 million. And things are getting worse. To date, Highmark has lost $773 million on Obamacare exchanges.
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Oracle has had enough of Oregon. The business technology giant has decided it will no longer take on new business with the state’s government amid an ongoing legal battle, Oracle senior vice president Ken Glueck told Fortune on Wednesday.
The decision follows a protracted legal tussle between the two parties over a disastrous state healthcare enrollment website that never came online. In 2011, Oregon enlisted Oracle to build a healthcare exchange website related to Obamacare after being impressed by the company’s sales pitch, according to a previous legal filing.
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Health insurance customers in a growing number of mostly rural regions will have just one insurer’s plans to choose from on the ObamaCare exchanges next year as some companies pull out of unprofitable markets. The entire states of Alaska and Alabama are expected to have only one insurer on the health law’s signature online marketplaces next year, according to state regulators. The same is expected to be true in parts of several other states, including Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arizona and Oklahoma, state regulators said.
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California’s health insurance exchange estimates that its Obamacare premiums may rise 8 percent on average next year, which would end two consecutive years of more modest 4 percent increases.
The projected rate increase in California, included in the exchange’s proposed annual budget, comes amid growing nationwide concern about insurers seeking double-digit premium hikes in the health law’s insurance marketplaces.
Any increases in California, a closely watched state in the health law rollout, are sure to draw intense scrutiny during a presidential election. Republicans are quick to seize on rate hikes as further proof that President Barack Obama’s signature law isn’t doing enough to hold down health care costs for the average consumer.
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