Minnesota’s largest health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, has decided to stop selling health plans to individuals and families in Minnesota starting next year.
The insurance carrier’s parent company, which goes by the same name, will continue to sell a much more limited offering on the individual market through its Blue Plus HMO.
The insurer explained extraordinary financial losses drove the decision.
“Based on current medical claim trends, Blue Cross is projecting a total loss of more than $500 million in the individual [health plan] segment over three years,” BCBSM said in a statement.
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Medical costs will continue to grow at a mostly flat rate next year, PwC’s Health Research Institute projects in a report released today.
Costs will grow at roughly 6.5 percent in 2017, in line with 2016 trends, the report says. Growing use of convenience care and increased access to behavioral health services will increase costs, while an increased number of high performance networks and increasingly aggressive pharmacy benefits managers will counteract that. The study looks at spending for Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance. More than half of Americans are covered through employer-sponsored plans.
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ObamaCare officials are partnering with the IRS to help drive down uninsured rates among young people.
For the first time, the federal tax agency is working with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reach out directly to taxpayers who paid the required fee last year because they lacked coverage.
About 45 percent of people who paid the fee — or claimed an exemption, like financial hardship — were under 35, according to HHS.
The planned mailings will lay out options for coverage and include details about how to qualify for federal subsidies. HHS will also again partner with the ride-hailing service Lyft, which will offer discounts to customers who attend open enrollment sessions.
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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.
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A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation says the cost of the “benchmark” plan (the second-lowest-cost silver plan in a market, which is the price used to calculate subsidies) will go up 10 percent this year, double the rate at which prices increased last year. The lowest-cost silver plans are also seeing substantial hikes. This matters because these are the most frequently purchased plans.
The usual caveat applies to these preliminary requests: Regulators might not approve them. But that caveat was hauled out last year by the law’s supporters, who seemed to think that this was simply the opening stage of a negotiation in which insurers asked for the stars in the hope of settling on the moon. In fact, regulators approved large rate hikes, and the state of Oregon actually made some insurers raise rates by more than they’d planned.
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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.
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Is the new House Republican plan to replace Obamacare politically viable? Two factors weigh in the plan’s favor: First, after the administration sold Obamacare as a program for middle-class families who were anxious about losing their coverage if something went wrong, Democrats delivered a plan that made a lot of middle-class families worse off, and few of them better off. Second, the continuing problems in the insurance exchanges mean we remain at risk of seeing the number of uninsured start to march back upward, as unsubsidized consumers start to drop their high-priced, high-deductible, narrow-network insurance.
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The three key questions to ask of any Medicaid financing proposal that ends the open-ended federal reimbursement are: 1) what is the level of federal commitment? 2) how are the funds divided among the states? and 3) how are state incentives affected? Sensible Medicaid reform must accomplish two aims: reduce the unsustainable trajectory of federal and state Medicaid spending, and produce better outcomes for people most in need of public assistance. Although much more work needs to be done, the House task force proposal would take steps to accomplish both aims.
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The healthcare plan released today by House Speaker Paul Ryan offers a modern refashioning of the consumer empowerment that has formed the foundation of conservative policymaking. This turns principally on an expansion of health savings accounts and other elements that reshape the healthcare benefit into a defined contribution of money that consumers can own and control, and that becomes more portable. The idea is that people can own their own coverage and take it with them, even as they move around and between different insurance pools and jobs.
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Today, after years of hearings and speeches and debates, the Paul Ryan-led House of Representatives has done something it has not done before: it has released a comprehensive, 37-page proposal to reform nearly every federal health care program, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare. No proposal is perfect—and we’ll get to the Ryan plan’s imperfections—but, all in all, we would have a far better health care system with the Ryan plan than we do today.
The first thing to know about the Ryan-led plan — part of a group of proposals called “A Better Way” — is that it’s not a bill written in legislative language. Nor is it a plan that has been endorsed by every House Republican.
Instead, it’s a 37-page white paper which describes, in a fair amount of detail, a kind of “conversation starter” that House GOP leadership hopes to have with its rank-and-file members, and with the public, in order to consolidate support around a more market-based approach to health reform.
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