Sunday, December 13, 2015

New ObamaCare angst as top insurer threatens to bail
A threat by the nation’s largest health insurer to pull out of ObamaCare is a sign of the industry’s growing angst about the viability of the federal exchanges, sources close to the industry say.

UnitedHealthcare’s warning sent new shockwaves across the healthcare sector after weeks of mounting anxiety among private insurers, whose participation in the exchanges is critical to the viability of the president’s signature law.

In the last month alone, insurers have learned that the Obama administration has significantly lowered its expectations for new customers and will have far fewer federal dollars to help cushion insurer losses....

ObamaCare’s imploding even without repeal
It’s looking like ObamaCare won’t survive even if Congress can’t manage to repeal it.

The nation’s largest health insurer, UnitedHealth Group, said last week that it’s losing too much — $425 million — from policies sold on the health exchanges, and may have to pull out by 2017.

The company admits it’s “a potentially huge blow” to the new system: “If a major publicly traded insurer bows out, others may follow and destabilize the entire individual market.”

Game over for ObamaCare?

UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley seems to imply just that: “We can’t really subsidize a marketplace that doesn’t appear at the moment to be sustaining itself.”

Mind you, UnitedHealth was a huge backer of the 2009 law. One of its top execs, Andrew Slavitt, then joined the administration to run the health exchanges.

What’s going on here? Basically, the long-feared “death spiral”: Not enough young, healthy folks are signing up for these plans, so insurers are losing money despite the hefty federal subsidies for the coverage. They’re raising premiums to even things out — but that drives even more folks away, so that only older, less-healthy customers remain, driving new losses . . ....

NYT: High Obamacare deductibles make mandated insurance practically useless
...Deductibles in the thousands of dollars are not uncommon. In fact, “in many states, more than half the plans offered for sale through, the federal online marketplace, have a deductible of $3,000 or more.” Once you add in several hundred dollars per month for your plan premium, a rate that may or may not be lower than it used to be and add in a $3,000 or more deductible, the average individual could be paying over $5,000 out of pocket in a year before their “affordable” insurance kicks in. This is true for employer sponsored plans as well....

Many Obamacare Co-Ops Are Leaving Patients, Doctors In The Cold
...For the moment, New York customers are simply trying to find replacement coverage. But most don’t realize that without guaranty protection, there may be no money to cover their past medical bills.

Patients and medical providers will get “pennies on the dollar,” John Maldonado, president of the Medical Society of New York, told TheDCNF. “What you now have is an absolute fiasco.”

He said many doctors caring for Health Republic patients are not being paid for past medical services, and some have found the co-op’s checks are bouncing.

“As of two weeks ago, I know that two practices that had (Health Republic) checks that bounced,” Maldonado told TheDCNF....