Sunday, May 31, 2015

ObamaCare Premiums Could Rise 50% In New Mexico -- An Outlier; Minnesota To Feel The Strain -- May 31, 2015


From The Billings Gazette -- watch for ObamaCare premium hikes, in Montana:
Health insurers selling individual policies on Montana’s Internet “marketplace” are reporting substantial losses for last year — and saying rate increases on marketplace policies are likely in store for next year.
Health-insurance companies had to guess at the cost of this new market, and it appears they guessed low, leading to losses in 2014.
“You’re shooting in the dark on your rates; you really don’t know,” said Jerry Dworak, CEO of the Montana Health Co-op. “You try to guess at what that rate will be, when you do that underwriting. … And you try to be aggressive, to get some (customers).”
“We made a deliberate attempt to expand access to coverage across all lines of our business, and as expected, it impacted our earnings in the short term in 2014, as compared to prior years,” added John Doran, spokesman for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana.
Blue Cross’ parent company, Health Care Service Corp., reported losses of $282 million for 2014 — almost $1 billion less than its $684 million net gain for the previous year.
Politico is reporting ObamaCare premiums could rise sharply in 2016:
The cost of Obamacare could rise for millions of Americans next year, with one insurer proposing a 50 percent hike in premiums, fueling the controversy about just how “affordable” the Affordable Care Act really is.
The eye-popping 50 percent hike by New Mexico insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield is an outlier, and state officials may not allow it to go through. But health insurance experts are predicting that premiums will rise more significantly in 2016 than in the first two years of Obamacare exchange coverage. In 2015, for example, premiums increased by an average of 5.4 percent, according to PwC’s Health Research Institute.
Breitbart: ObamaCare premiums to rise in 2016:
Major insurers in some states are proposing up to 51 percent premium increases for health plans sold under the Affordable Healthcare and Patient Protection Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. Despite single digit increases for 2015, insurance companies are seeing their costs jump and are demanding to be compensated with dramatically higher rates.
When insurance plans proposed 2015 rates last summer, they had only a little information about the health of the new customers they expected to sign up during the fall Obamacare expansion. Big insurers tended to ask for increases of less than 10%, while some smaller insurers tried to under-cut pricing by the major’s to take market share, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, The Los Angeles Times reports almost half of the state's ObamaCare "customers" report difficulty paying current premiums:
A new survey shows that 44% of Covered California policyholders find it difficult paying their monthly premiums for Obamacare coverage.
And a similar percentage of uninsured Californians say the high cost of coverage is the main reason they go without health insurance.
The issue of just how much people can afford will loom large as the state exchange prepares to negotiate with health insurers over next year's rates.
Many analysts are predicting bigger premium increases for 2016 in California and across the country. Insurers have more details on the medical costs of enrollees, and some federal programs that help protect health plans from unpredictable claims will be winding down.
And as President Obama has so eloquently said in the past: this will be the next president's problem.

And it may be even worse. In another Los Angeles Times story: amid slower growth, California's ObamaCare exchange cuts proposed spending:
After using most of $1 billion in federal start-up money, California's Obamacare exchange is preparing to go on a diet.
That financial reality is reflected in Covered California's proposed budget, released Wednesday, as well as a reduced forecast calling for 2016 enrollment of fewer than 1.5 million people.
The recalibration comes after tepid enrollment growth for California during the second year of the Affordable Care Act. The state ended open enrollment in February with 1.4 million people signed up, far short of its goal of 1.7 million.
A number of factors contributed to the shortfall, but health policy experts said that some uninsured folks still find health insurance unaffordable despite the health law's premium subsidies.
Those pocketbook issues make holding the line on costs an imperative for state officials. Covered California can't draw on the state general funds, and its primary source of revenue is a $13.95 monthly fee tacked onto every individual policy sold.
Minnesota Will Feel The Strain

Regular readers understand this issue, why Medicaid enrollment is surging. The StarTribune is reporting:
Minnesota’s Medicaid rolls have soared past the 1 million mark for the first time, driven by two years of explosive growth in government insurance programs in the wake of federal health reform.
The enrollment surge — one of the largest in the country and the biggest for the state in 35 years — helped push Minnesota’s uninsured rate down to about 5 percent and has enabled more low-income families to receive regular medical care, doctors say.
But it also means that Medicaid and its sister program, MinnesotaCare for the working poor, now rank among the state’s largest health insurers, which could place long-run strains on the state budget. Fully one in five Minnesotans now receive health insurance from public programs, up from one in 10 just five years ago.
While unprecedented, the spurt was not unexpected after the administration of Gov. Mark Dayton made an ambitious push to cover more of Minnesota’s uninsured population.
And Mr Dayton loves to solve challenges by increasing personal income taxes. 

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