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.
. . .
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.”
. . .
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.
. . .
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.
. . .
Two scholars at the renowned Brookings Institution, Loren Adler and Paul Ginsburg, have published an analysis finding that “average premiums in the individual market actually dropped significantly upon implementation of the ACA [Affordable Care Act].” This contrasts with a plethora of evidence, including a rigorous 2014 Brookings study, showing that the ACA significantly increased premiums. In this post, I discuss methodological concerns with the Adler and Ginsburg approach as well as evidence that leads most scholars to reach a very different conclusion.
. . .
Anthem Inc. said it is now projecting losses on its Affordable Care Act plans this year, a turnaround for a major insurer that had maintained a relatively optimistic tone about that business.
Anthem said it now believed it would see a “mid-single-digit” operating margin loss on its ACA plans in 2016, due to higher-than-expected medical costs. It expects better results next year, because it is seeking substantial premium increases.
Anthem’s financial performance on ACA plans had previously been a relative bright spot among major insurers, many of which continue to struggle.
. . .
The insurer Cigna is expanding into a few new ObamaCare markets, a countervailing force to some recent high profile exits by insurers.
Cigna, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, said Tuesday that it has filed to offer insurance on the ObamaCare marketplaces next year in Chicago, the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina, as well as Northern Virginia and Richmond.
The move comes as some other large insurers have announced they are pulling out of ObamaCare marketplaces because of financial losses. Humana announced last week that it will participate in no more than 11 states next year, down from 19.
. . .
Since Obamacare’s rollout in the fall of 2013, 16 co-ops that launched with money from the federal government have collapsed.
The co-ops, or consumer operated and oriented plans, were started under the Affordable Care Act as a way to boost competition among insurers and expand the number of health insurance companies available to consumers living in rural areas.
Now, just seven co-ops—Wisconsin’s Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative; Maryland’s Evergreen Health Cooperative; Maine Community Health Options; Massachusetts’ Minuteman Health; Montana Health Cooperative; New Mexico Health Connections; and Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey—remain.
Thomas Miller, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who is an expert in health policy, said each of the seven remaining co-ops have “warning indicators” leading up to when, and if, they fail.
. . .
Thousands of Illinoisans heeded federal law and bought health insurance last year via the state’s Obamacare exchange. They signed up with Land of Lincoln Health, a state-approved insurer. They paid their premiums and deductibles. Many counted on that coverage to manage chronic illnesses or other long-term treatment.
Now, a kick in the teeth: Land of Lincoln has collapsed. Its customers must scramble for new coverage in an upcoming “special enrollment” period. They will have 60 days to find another plan on the Illinois exchange to cover the last three months of the year.
. . .