The big rate increases announced last week for health insurance policies sold by California’s version of the federal health reform are the latest evidence that the Affordable Care Act, despite its name, cannot do much to tame the rise of health care costs.
The government-run health insurance market is facing all the same cost pressures that the private market has confronted for years, plus more that have resulted from the dynamics of the federal law itself.
Covered California, the state insurance agency created to implement the federal law, announced last week that rates for insurance sold through the program will increase an average of 13.2 percent in 2017. The state’s two biggest insurers, Blue Shield and Anthem Inc., will increase rates by 19.9 percent and 17.2 percent, respectively.
Today’s headline in The Los Angeles Times: “California Obamacare rates to rise 13% in 2017, more than three times the increase of the last two years.” The increase will be 17.2% for Anthem and 19.9% for Blue Shield–the largest Obamacare insurers.
Obamacare supporters have long pointed to Covered California as the example of just how good Obamacare could be if the entire program were run as well as it is in California.
Covered California’s average rate increase for 2017 will be 13.2%.
But half of the California market is controlled by two carriers who will be asking for much bigger increases. Blue Shield of California said its average rate increase for 2017 will be 19.9%, the biggest statewide increase. Anthem Blue Cross said it will increase its rates by an average of 17.2% for 2017.
. . .
California’s Obamacare premiums will jump 13.2 percent on average next year, a sharp increase that is likely to reverberate nationwide in an election year.
The Covered California exchange had won plaudits by negotiating 4 percent average rate increases in its first two years. But that feat couldn’t be repeated for 2017, as overall medical costs continue to climb and two federal programs that help insurers with expensive claims are set to expire this year.
The increase announced Tuesday comes as major insurers around the country seek even bigger rate hikes for open enrollment this fall, and the presidential candidates clash over the future of President Barack Obama’s landmark health law.
. . .
California’s Obamacare customers can expect a hefty increase in their monthly health insurance premiums next year.
Covered California, the state’s Obamacare marketplace, released proposed premiums Tuesday morning, and the statewide average increase for 2017 will be 13.2 percent.
Peter Lee, the agency’s executive director, cited factors including increased medical costs and the end of a federal “reinsurance” program as main drivers of the increase.
Blue Shield and Anthem Blue Cross customers will face the steepest increases.
. . .
Health insurers in Michigan are seeking another round of double-digit rate increases next year for plans they sell to individuals, although smaller increases for their small group plans.
Insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has asked state regulators for permission to boost its premium rates by an average 18.7% for individual plans, along with a 14.8% increase for its Blue Care Network individual plans. Those plans — closely associated with the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare — cover about 200,000 individuals in the state, down from 310,000 people as recently as a year ago.
. . .
This refrain may sound familiar: If you qualify for Medicaid but you like your “Obamacare” plan, you can keep it … unless you can’t.
That’s the confusing and mixed message residents are getting from the state and insurance companies now that Louisiana has become the 31st state to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
About 375,000 people — mostly the working poor — are expected to get free health insurance coverage through the expanded program, which is mostly subsidized by the federal government.
Tens of thousands of those Louisiana residents — the total is not known — already have health insurance policies through what is called the federal marketplace, an Obamacare program that pays most of their insurance premiums.
The state says people who bought individual policies through the federal marketplace but now qualify for Medicaid under the state expansion can keep their Obamacare plans if they prefer them over Medicaid. They just have to keep paying their share of the premiums.
. . .
The results of a recent poll conducted by the University of Southern California (USC) and the LA Times make it clear there is far from a consensus on the quality and affordability of healthcare in the Golden State. Less than half of those surveyed (44%) felt that healthcare in California was good or excellent, while a plurality (48%) felt that healthcare in the state was fair or poor.
. . .
States that expanded Medicaid realized a 49.5 percent decline in the uninsurance rate, compared to a 33.8 percent decline in the uninsurance rate in non-expansion states since 2012, according to a Department of Health and Human Services report released today.
The department is touting the results of the study, which was conducted by its Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, as evidence that the roughly 20 states that have not yet expanded the program should do so.
“Today’s report is a clear reminder of the important role Medicaid expansion plays in improving access to quality, affordable care while addressing and improving overall health for millions of Americans,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement.
. . .
John McCain is running for reelection like it’s 2010.
The Arizona Republican has made his opposition to Obamacare — which dominated Senate races across the country six years ago — a central point of his campaign, by all accounts, the toughest reelection fight of his career.
He’s betting that shrinking coverage options and premium increases that could go as high as 65 percent if insurers get their way will resonate with Arizona voters, even as most of his Republican colleagues running this year have moved on to other issues.
. . .
Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky promised big changes were coming to Medicaid — and on Wednesday, he unveiled his plan. Bevin said the plan, “Kentucky Helping to Engage and Achieve Long Term Health” (or Kentucky HEALTH), will ensure the program’s long-term fiscal stability. Bevin’s predecessor, Steve Beshear, expanded Medicaid in Kentucky to adults making as much as 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Kentucky HEALTH is for that same population, plus all non-disabled adults currently covered under traditional Medicaid. The plan has two pathways: an employer premium assistance program and a high-deductible, consumer-driven health plan.
. . .