The Obama administration failed to follow the president’s health care law in a $5 billion dispute over compensating insurers for high costs from seriously ill patients, Congress’ investigative arm said Thursday.
The opinion from the Government Accountability Office is a setback for the White House and bolsters Republican complaints that administration officials bent the law as problems arose carrying out its complex provisions. The finding may complicate efforts to stabilize premiums in the law’s insurance marketplaces, where about 11 million people get coverage.
. . .
Based on rate increases proposed to North Carolina’s Department of Insurance, state residents who have signed up for Obamacare could face a 19 percent to 25 percent jump in the cost of their health coverage for 2017, Republican Sen. Richard Burr says.
Further, because major health insurers have suffered losses and are exiting the program, in 90 percent of North Carolina counties, residents enrolled in President Barack Obama’s signature health care program will only have one plan from which to choose in their so-called marketplace, Burr wrote in an op ed published in the online North State Journal.
About 27,000 Hoosiers will lose their Obamacare plans next year after Indiana University Health Plans announced it is withdrawing from the Indiana marketplace, citing big losses from the new enrollees. It had covered 15% of marketplace enrollees last year. Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, a Republican, said the announcement from IU Health Plans is evidence the healthcare law is “collapsing before our eyes.” “Because of the broken Obamacare system, Hoosiers continue to face rising premiums and limited choices rather than reliable, affordable healthcare,” Coats said.
. . .
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee sent shock waves Monday across Tennessee with the company’s decision to exit the Obamacare exchange in Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville, a move that highlights persistent volatility in the young health insurance marketplace.
Three years into the Affordable Care Act exchange, the state’s largest insurer is grappling with hefty losses and ongoing uncertainty on the marketplace. BCBST is open to coming fully back into the market once uncertainties about policies and the membership wane.
. . .
In yet another sign of instability in Obamacare’s health-insurance Exchanges, BlueCross BlueShield of Nebraska has announced it will leave that state’s Exchange entirely, while BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee will exit the Exchange in all three of that state’s major metropolitan areas. The moves will leave 112,000 Tennesseans and tens of thousands of Nebraskans scrambling to find new coverage for 2017 from a dwindling number of carriers.
. . .
Insurers have announced that they are sharply raising prices or pulling out of the Obamacare markets entirely. Many consumers will have fewer choices of insurance plans, and many insurance plans will include fewer doctors and hospitals. Many of the most important problems can be understood if you think of an Obamacare marketplace as a particular kind of restaurant: an all-you-can-eat buffet. It can be a solid business, but it’s hard to get the pricing right. For example, you can be in deep trouble if your buffet suddenly becomes the favorite hangout of the high school football team. Unless you make major adjustments, you will quickly lose money. That may be what has happened to some of the companies selling health insurance.
. . .
ObamaCare is plainly unaffordable for many young Americans. We’re at the start of our careers—and the bottom of the income ladder—so paying so much for something we likely won’t use makes little sense. The IRS penalty of $695 or 2.5% of our income is often cheap by comparison. We may be young, but we can do the math.
Young Americans aren’t looking for “outreach” and “engagement” from President Obama. We’re looking for affordable health-insurance plans—and ObamaCare doesn’t offer them.
. . .
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska announced Friday that is pulling out of the ObamaCare marketplace in the state, becoming the latest insurer to cite financial losses when reducing participation in the healthcare law.
The move is especially significant given that it is a Blue Cross plan, which form the backbone of the ObamaCare marketplaces. In a few states, the Blue Cross plan will be the only one available on the marketplace next year.
Nebraska, though, will still have two insurers, Aetna and Medica, on its marketplace next year.
. . .
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.
. . .
Residents who buy their health insurance themselves will pay 20 percent more on average next year, and, for the first time, residents in 14 counties will have the choice of only one carrier offering plans in their area via the state health insurance exchange.
The increases are the largest in Colorado since the 2014 launch of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In some parts of rural Colorado, premium increases will top 40 percent, according to figures approved Tuesday by the Colorado Division of Insurance. However, tax credits for low-income residents will help blunt the impact of some of those increases, with consumers who currently receive the credits in line to see an average decrease of 11 percent in their premiums.
. . .