A new wave of failures among ObamaCare’s nonprofit health insurers is disrupting coverage for thousands of enrollees and raising questions about whether regulators could have acted earlier to head off some of the problems.
Four ObamaCare co-ops have failed due to financial problems since the beginning of the year, the latest trouble for the struggling program.
The co-ops were set up under ObamaCare to increase competition with established insurers, but just seven of the original 23 co-ops now remain.
. . .
The Kaiser Family Foundation’s most recent Employer Health Benefits Survey found that among firms with 50 or more full-time-equivalent workers (i.e., the one’s subject to Obamacare’s employer mandate):
“four percent of these firms reported changing some job classifications from full-time to part-time so employees in those jobs would not be eligible for health benefits”
“four percent of these firms reported that they reduced the number of employees they intended to hire because of the cost of providing health benefits” . , and 10% of firms reported doing just the opposite and converting part-time jobs to full-time jobs”
This is unequivocal empirical evidence that Obamacare has had some of the adverse effects on employment predicted for years by Obamacare critics: a shift towards part-time work and even a reduction in hiring. But according to the same survey, the latter impact was offset due to the 10% of employers who converted part-time jobs to full-time jobs in order to make them eligible for health benefits.
. . .
Small businesses have been pumping the brakes on offering health benefits to their employees since 2009, according to new data from the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
“The fact is that small employers were less likely to offer these benefits to begin with,” Paul Fronstin, EBRI’s director of health research and education program and author of the report, told Bloomberg BNA July 28. “While the ACA was designed to try to get more small employers to” offer health insurance, “it hasn’t.”
The proportion of employers offering health benefits fell between 2008 and 2015 for all three categories of small employer, EBRI found: by 36 percent for those with fewer than 10 employees, by 26 percent for those with 10 to 24 workers and by 10 percent for those with 25 to 99 workers.
. . .
Democratic and Republican governors know that rising health care costs are increasingly restricting spending on other state priorities. Paul Howard, Director of Health Policy at the Manhattan Institute, outlines five strategies that innovative governors can use to help transform state health care markets: 1. Incorporate reference pricing for common procedures and tests into state benefit designs, 2. Ban anti-tiering provisions, 3. Drive price transparency by setting up an all-payer claims database, 4. Expand access to direct primary care, and 5. Repeal regulations that hamstring competition, such as certificate of need laws and prohibitions on the corporate practice of medicine.
. . .
Even progressives are turning against Obamacare as health care costs and premiums skyrocket.
Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, said Wednesday there was strong support for a single-payer system on the Democratic platform committee, and one reason is that progressives blame the Affordable Care Act for rising costs.
“In a world in which people are facing rising costs and they kind of hear the ACA is over here, they’re blaming the ACA for their rising costs,” Ms. Tanden said during a panel discussion at the Democratic National Convention.
“Even progressives who fought for the ACA five years ago are really questioning the affordability issue, and it’s making them move in really dramatic ways,” she said. “Part of this lack of support of the ACA is from the left, not just the right.”
. . .
Healthcare policy got remarkably little discussion during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, despite repeated nods to the issue from Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders. Here’s why.
No one wanted to talk about the costs, regulations, and other tough tradeoffs that would be involved in further expanding insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, improving affordability for consumers, curbing medical spending growth, and reducing prescription drug costs.
. . .
Many of the initial reports of premium increases for 2017 have been based on anecdotal examples or averages across insurers. This Kaiser Family Foundation brief takes a different approach, presenting an early analysis of changes in insurer participation and premiums for the lowest-cost and second-lowest silver marketplace plans in major cities in 16 states plus the District of Columbia where complete data on rates is publicly available for all insurers. Based on insurer rate requests, the cost of the second-lowest silver plan in these cities will increase by a weighted average of 9% in 2017.
. . .
Anthem fought back against an Obama administration antitrust lawsuit on Wednesday by conditioning its expansion in the struggling Obamacare market to approval of its acquisition of Cigna. The company plans to add nine states to its Obamacare participation if the deal goes through, company officials said on a call with investors. Last week, the Department of Justice sued to block Anthem’s proposed $54 billion acquisition of Cigna and also filed suit against Aetna’s planned $37 billion takeover of Humana.
. . .
After six years of rock-solid defense, top healthcare advocates in the Democratic Party are now willing to acknowledge that the Affordable Care Act has fallen flat on affordability.
At the Democratic National Convention this week, some of Hillary Clinton’s closest allies on healthcare are setting her up for a major battle to lower the cost of care, an issue they said needs to top her agenda as president.
“Healthcare costs, I really see as the next generation of healthcare reform,” Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress, said at a luncheon in downtown Philadelphia on Wednesday.
. . .
Anthem Inc., the No. 2 U.S. health insurer by membership, said medical spending rose in the second quarter, driven by higher costs from the insurer’s Affordable Care Act plans and Medicaid business.
The shares dropped as much as 4.1 percent, the biggest intraday decline since April 27, and were down 0.5 percent to $136.95 at 9:55 a.m. Anthem said it spent 84.2 cents of every premium dollar on medical care, up from 82.1 cents a year earlier.
. . .