The big rate increases announced last week for health insurance policies sold by California’s version of the federal health reform are the latest evidence that the Affordable Care Act, despite its name, cannot do much to tame the rise of health care costs.
The government-run health insurance market is facing all the same cost pressures that the private market has confronted for years, plus more that have resulted from the dynamics of the federal law itself.
Covered California, the state insurance agency created to implement the federal law, announced last week that rates for insurance sold through the program will increase an average of 13.2 percent in 2017. The state’s two biggest insurers, Blue Shield and Anthem Inc., will increase rates by 19.9 percent and 17.2 percent, respectively.
Today’s headline in The Los Angeles Times: “California Obamacare rates to rise 13% in 2017, more than three times the increase of the last two years.” The increase will be 17.2% for Anthem and 19.9% for Blue Shield–the largest Obamacare insurers.
Obamacare supporters have long pointed to Covered California as the example of just how good Obamacare could be if the entire program were run as well as it is in California.
Covered California’s average rate increase for 2017 will be 13.2%.
But half of the California market is controlled by two carriers who will be asking for much bigger increases. Blue Shield of California said its average rate increase for 2017 will be 19.9%, the biggest statewide increase. Anthem Blue Cross said it will increase its rates by an average of 17.2% for 2017.
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California’s Obamacare premiums will jump 13.2 percent on average next year, a sharp increase that is likely to reverberate nationwide in an election year.
The Covered California exchange had won plaudits by negotiating 4 percent average rate increases in its first two years. But that feat couldn’t be repeated for 2017, as overall medical costs continue to climb and two federal programs that help insurers with expensive claims are set to expire this year.
The increase announced Tuesday comes as major insurers around the country seek even bigger rate hikes for open enrollment this fall, and the presidential candidates clash over the future of President Barack Obama’s landmark health law.
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Humana will exit eight of the 19 individual health insurance markets where it has sold Obamacare plans this year, the insurer announced Thursday.
The company is still struggling to make a profit on the exchanges, according to its second quarter earnings guidance released Thursday. The company expects to offer individual plans in 156 counties across 11 states compared to the 1,351 counties in 19 states it has offered plans in the year, according to a release.
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House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has heard personally from actuaries for a major health insurer that Obamacare is “failing.” Speaking at a Wednesday breakfast for Ohio delegates to the Republican National Convention, Ryan said that actuaries for Blue Cross Blue Shield have told him the Affordable Care Act is going downhill faster than they expected.
“As I said in the beginning, this healthcare law is going to collapse under its own weight,” Ryan said. “I met with all these actuaries from Blue Cross Blue Shield a little while ago, and they said ‘Well, congressman, the law is failing two years ahead of schedule,'” he added. “Meaning, basically, they saw it coming, but they didn’t think it would be this bad so fast.”
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Top insurer UnitedHealth Group said Tuesday its 2017 earnings will benefit as it mostly exits the ObamaCare exchanges, its worst-performing business line.
UnitedHealth reported second-quarter earnings of $1.96 per share, up 13% from a year earlier, handily beating analysts’ estimates of $1.89. Still, the company just slightly raised its full-year earnings outlook to $7.80-$7.95 a share from $7.75-$7.95, roughly in line with consensus estimates for $7.89.
The high end of its full-year 2016 earnings guidance held steady because worse-than-expected results in its ObamaCare individual market business called for a conservative outlook, management said in an earnings call.
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Fifteen of the health insurance cooperatives started with federal dollars through the Affordable Care Act have failed — four of them just this month — saddling taxpayers with an estimated $1.7 billion in bad loans.
Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative is one of seven still standing.
But the next few months will determine whether Common Ground, which insures about 20,000 in 19 counties in eastern Wisconsin, manages to survive.
“I’m confident we’ll make it through this year,” said Cathy Mahaffey, its chief executive officer since 2014.
Beyond that, though, Common Ground faces an uncertain future.
The cooperative has lost $84.8 million from its inception in 2012 through the end of last year and owes the federal government $107.7 million.
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For several years, the Obama administration has urged state insurance regulators to use tools provided by the Affordable Care Act to hold down health care premiums.
Now federal officials will have a chance to practice what they preach as they confront big increases proposed in several states where they are responsible for reviewing rates.
Federal officials defer to the insurance commissioners in 46 states deemed to have “effective rate review” programs. But in Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming, the federal government is in charge of reviewing rates.
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The percentage of Hispanics in Texas without health insurance has dropped by 30 percent since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect, but almost one-third of Hispanic Texans ages 18 to 64 remain uninsured.
That’s one of the conclusions of a new report released today by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Episcopal Health Foundation.
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This past weekend, Democrats finalized their 2016 election platform at a meeting in Orlando. Oddly enough, it calls for the destruction of Obamacare.
“Americans should be able to access public coverage through Medicare or a public option”–that is, government-run healthcare–says the platform. In a nod to former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, who supports a government-run, single-payer “Medicare for All” healthcare system, it also states that “healthcare is a right.”
They’re embracing single-payer because of Obamacare’s ongoing collapse. As a new report from Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., makes clear, Obamacare’s exchanges are crumbling. Consumers in many parts of the country have access to only one or two insurers–and may soon have none at all.
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