Failing insurers. Rising premiums. Financial losses. The deteriorating Obamacare market that the health insurance industry feared is here.
As concerns about the survival of the Affordable Care Act’s markets intensify, the role of nonprofit “co-op” health insurers — meant to broaden choices under the law — has gained prominence. Most of the original 23 co-ops have failed, dumping more than 800,000 members back onto the ACA markets over the last two years.
Many of those thousands of people were sicker and more expensive than the remaining insurers expected — and they’re hurting results.
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As many as 20 million Americans soon will be getting a letter from the Internal Revenue Service “suggesting” they sign up for ObamaCare insurance.
Getting a letter from the IRS can be a threatening and nerve-racking experience; it seldom is seen as a suggestion and more of a threat. But at President Obama’s direction, the IRS is “reaching out” to people who paid the tax penalty for not buying mandatory health insurance or who claimed an exemption in hopes of “attracting” more people to sign up for ObamaCare insurance. The government is particularly interested in compliance from healthy young people.
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The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control suggests that the number of uninsured has declined roughly 22 million since 2013, and 17.8 million since 2010 (darn you, financial crisis!). And today we got data from the Census Bureau, which suggests that the number of uninsured people has fallen from 13.3 percent to 9.1 percent since 2013, or by about 12.8 million. There are other surveys too. But we hardly need more numbers.
How can everyone get such different answers? Well, for one thing, methodologies differ.
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The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday approved a GOP bill that responds to the failure of about two-thirds of the co-op insurers created under the Affordable Care Act.
The bill, which passed by a voice vote, would exempt people who lost insurance because the co-op through which they bought coverage folded mid-year from the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.
Roughly 750,000 families have had their coverage disrupted by the closure of 16 of the 23 co-ops created under the 2010 health care law, all citing financial problems, Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said during the hearing. The bill would exempt consumers from the individual mandate for the remainder of that year, and they would be required to sign up for coverage during the next enrollment period.
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The Health Republican Insurance of New Jersey announced Monday plans to shut down, hours after Sen. Ben Sasse introduced the CO-OP Consumer Protection Act.
The Garden State’s Obamacare co-op plans to close at the end of the year, making it the 17th of 23 to fail and cost Americans their health plans.
“Families in New Jersey have just been gut-punched and the last thing that Washington should do is force these CO-OP victims to pay Obamacare’s individual mandate. This started in Nebraska and Iowa and has been a catastrophe for countless Americans,” Sasse said in a press release.
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The best measurement of people who lack health insurance, the National Health Interview Survey published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has released early estimates of health insurance for all fifty states and the District of Columbia in the first quarter of 2016. There are three things to note.
First: 70.2 percent of residents, age 18 to through 64, had “private health insurance” (at the time of the interview) in the first quarter of this year, which is which is the same rate as persisted until 2006. Obamacare has not achieved a breakthrough in coverage. It has just restored us to where we were a decade ago. Further, the contribution of Obamacare’s exchanges to this is almost trivial, covering only four million people.
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Progress in reducing the number of people without health insurance in the U.S. appears to be losing momentum this year even as rising premiums and dwindling choice are reviving the political blame game over President Barack Obama’s health care law.
The future of the Affordable Care Act hinges on the outcome of the presidential election, and it’s shaping up as a moment of truth for Republicans.
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Enrollment in the insurance exchanges for President Obama’s signature health-care law is at less than half the initial forecast, pushing several major insurance companies to stop offering health plans in certain markets because of significant financial losses.
As a result, the administration’s promise of a menu of health-plan choices has been replaced by a grim, though preliminary, forecast: Next year, more than 1 in 4 counties are at risk of having a single insurer on its exchange, said Cynthia Cox, who studies health reform for the Kaiser Family Foundation.
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So much for choice. In many parts of the country, Obamacare customers will be down to one insurer when they go to sign up for coverage next year on the public exchanges.
A central tenet of the federal health law was to offer a range of affordable health plans through competition among private insurers. But a wave of insurer failures and the recent decision by several of the largest companies, including Aetna, to exit markets are leaving large portions of the country with functional monopolies for next year.
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An Arizona county is poised to become an Obamacare ghost town because no insurer wants to sell exchange plans there.
Aetna’s recent announcement that it would exit most of the states where it offers Obamacare plans leaves residents of Pinal County, Arizona, without any options to get subsidized health coverage next year, unless regulators scramble to find a carrier to fill the void between now and early October.
About 9,700 people in Pinal signed up for Obamacare plans this year, according to administration data.
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