Stanley Feld M.D., FACP,MACE
Its getting boring to hear about Obamacare’s double-digit health insurance premium increases each year. The healthcare insurance industry is now preparing the public for another round of double-digit premium increases in 2017.
It is important to remember the public experienced double-digit health insurance premium every year since 2014.
The cost of buying insurance has skyrocketed since Obamacare was enacted. The public is not forgetting this.
The table below compares health insurance premiums before and after Obamacare.
This table includes both the numbers in the federal and state exchanges and the private healthcare insurance markets.
President Obama and his administration are bragging that the healthcare insurance markets are stabilizing.
All the federal funded state health Co-ops will be bankrupt before the 2017 enrollment period.
Updated state reports on enrollment since the close of 2016 extended enrollment period indicates that more than 1 million of the 12.7 million who were reported to enroll for 2016 have dropped their Obamacare healthcare insurance policies.
In 2015 only 1.5 million consumers out of 11.7 million enrollees dropped out the entire year.
Arielle Levin Becker of the Connecticut Mirror reported, “In Connecticut of the 18,800 customers who dropped out (16%), 20% failed to provide required information; 53% didn’t pay; 10% asked to have their plans canceled; and 12% shifted to Medicaid.
Those exiting customers were partly offset by nearly 8,000 latecomers, more than one-third of whom lost Medicaid.”
The truth is the Obamacare health exchanges are not stabilizing the healthcare insurance markets. Obamacare is destabilizing the healthcare markets.
It is becoming more and more difficult to believe anything President Obama says or his administration reports.
United Healthcare declared they are dropping out of most of the exchanges they are participating in because of the toll the health exchanges have taken on their bottom line.
Aetna just announced it lost more than $100 million on its healthcare exchange business last year (2015) but hopes to break even this year (2016).
This is a pipe dream on Aetna’s part. Less people have signed up for Obamacare and the people who signed up have been sicker people with pre-existing illnesses.
Aetna chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini said Thursday, “ the nation's third-largest health insurer still sees a good business opportunity, but Congress needs to provide leeway for companies to design lower-cost plans tailored to young, healthy people.”
President Obama is not going to let insurers design lower cost policies tailored for young, healthy people. His legacy legislation is built on equal premiums for all.
These announcements can put the healthcare debate back in the headlines for the general election. It can re-ignite consumer and voter backlash once again.
President Obama ignored the backlash before. Can Hillary Clinton ignore the upcoming price increase backlash?
“Hillary Clinton is the only one promising to build on the Affordable Care Act. She's proposed an aggressive effort to increase enrollment along with measures to reduce consumer costs.”
Hillary Clinton is mouthing words that sound good but are impossible to fulfill. People understand these empty promises now.
“ The Republican candidates all want to repeal "Obamacare."
No one has come up with a solid proposal. Not even Donald Trump.
“Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would incorporate it into a bigger government-run system covering everyone.”
Bernie Sanders is dead wrong. America cannot afford the cost and it has been proven not to work in the healthcare systems in the rest of the world.
The health law has many problems. The problems are too numerous to list here. The biggest problem in terms of costs for next years premiums (2017) are the lower-than-hoped-for enrollment, sicker-than-expected customers, and a bloated bureaucracy that is not an efficient business model.
Obamacare has created a financial drain for many healthcare insurance companies. The increase in premiums and the government pressure to keep prices low have in turn created pressure on insurance companies to lower reimbursement to physicians and hospitals.
Hospitals have to participate in the health exchanges, Medicare and Medicaid for survival. Physicians do not. Obamacare has created a more severe physician shortage.
The healthcare insurance companies would never consider becoming more efficient and lowering their cost. Some top executives are making more than 100 million dollars a year.
The healthcare insurance industry is setting the stage for 2017 premium hikes that could reach well into the double digits.
Virginia has nine returning insurance companies participating in Obamacare in 2017. These companies have submitted premium price increases ranging from 9.4 percent to 37 percent to the state board of insurance.
I am sure the Virginia state board of insurance will start negotiating with the participating insurance companies.
Obamacare will only cover 11 million enrollees in 2016. As more enrollees drop out of Obamacare because they cannot afford the premiums the total might be closer to 8 million. Many of the enrollees are subsidized. These subsidized enrollees have dropped out because they cannot afford the remaining premiums and deductibles.
The healthcare insurance industry increases premiums in the individual and group private markets to protect its profit margin.
This is occurring on top of the destruction of Health Saving Accounts and does not speak well for a stable healthcare insurance market.
President Obama’s goal is to destroy the healthcare system and replace it with a single party payer system.
Does anyone think a government run single party payer system will be more efficient or deliver cost effective care?
If you do, please think of the efficiency and effectiveness of the VA healthcare system?
The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.
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