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Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Healthcare Insurers Poised to Gouge Consumers and Providers Alike?
By Selected News Articles @ 4:45 PM :: 2593 Views :: Health Care

Healthcare Insurers Poised to Gouge Consumers and Providers Alike?

by Mettle Fatigue, Daily KOS, March 24, 2014

From "Insurers See Double-Digit Price Rises in Many States Next Year" by David Morgan and Caroline Humer, Reuters Health Information at Medscape, March 24, 2014

U.S. consumers ... could see double-digit price hikes next year in states that fail to draw large numbers of [ACA] enrollees for 2014, including some states that have been hostile to the healthcare law, according to insurance industry officials and analysts.

The early estimates come as insurance companies set out to design plans they intend to sell in 2015 through the state-based health insurance marketplaces that are a centerpiece of the ...  domestic policy achievement that is widely referred to as Obamacare.

The cost of health insurance is already a political hot potato in this year's election campaign for control of Congress, with Republicans warning of the potential for sky-rocketing rates in their attempt to turn the ballot into a referendum on Obamacare.
The ACA is said to be serving about 5 million people currently, the employer-sponsored market about 170 million. March 31 is the enrollment deadline for 2014. Insurers submit proposed 2015 rates to insurance regulators in May and June.
The cost of health insurance is already a political hot potato in this year's election campaign for control of Congress, with Republicans warning of the potential for sky-rocketing rates in their attempt to turn the ballot into a referendum on Obamacare.
The industry anticipates increases from high single-digit percentages of cost to as much as 30% in the dozen-plus states with slow enrollment, technology failures (Massachusetts, Hawaii and Maryland), political opposition to the ACA and/or outright rejection (Louisiana, Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma), little competition between insurers, hands-off regulators, and retention of older health plans noncompliant with ACA.

Government data shows adults aged 18 to 34 enrolled at 25% compared to the ACA 38% target, disproportioning the demographics of pre-existing conditions, older age, and chronic illness.

Last week, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a congressional committee: "I think premiums are likely to go up, but at a slower pace than what we've seen since 2010."
An 8% increase in net insurance costs was predicted by government actuaries. Additional "factors" figure in what prices will in fact be charged.
The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks healthcare trends, [anticipates] most states will see premium increases of 7% to 10% in 2015, as insurers compensate for factors including the rising cost of medical services and reduced funding for a temporary federal program that compensates insurers for high claim costs ... while some consumers should also benefit from aggressive state insurance regulators unwilling to allow big cost hikes.

And after the open enrollment period ends,

a steady stream of new customers is expected to transition into the Obamacare marketplaces throughout 2014, due to life changes that allow for special enrollments, including job loss, marriage and parenthood. As a result, insurers could find themselves under constant pressure to keep prices competitive.
One metric of enrollment success - and a potential indicator of future rate increases - is market penetration. In 16 states, sign-ups represent less than 10% of the potential marketplace population, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study of enrollment data released by the administration on March 1. Analysts say those markets could skew toward older, sicker members, which raises the likelihood of rate increases. ... At the top of the enrollment success scale, Kaiser found that Vermont has enrolled 54% of its potential market, while California, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island and Washington have each enrolled about 20% or more.
One health/business administrator commenting at Medscape singled out the major insurers for blame, saying they'd cut what healthcare providers receive

30 to 40% in the past two years, well ahead of their anticipated losses due to any Obamacare related expenses. Seems like they will take every opportunity to rake in high profits at everyone else's expense. I never even read an article that mentions what is happening to healthcare providers. I, for one, am no longer accepting insurance after 20 years.

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