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How High Will Your Health Insurance Premiums Go In 2015?

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Obamacare Updates: Tale of Fail from Coast to Coast

 

It's time now for your monthly reminder that Obamacare neither "working in the real world," "proving its critics wrong," nor "blowing away expectations:"

 

 

Oh If Only Someone Had Warned Us That This Would Happen! rolleyes.gif

 

 

There was a guy who called into Bill Bennett this morning, who actually tried to say Obamacare was wonderful, and the answer to a maidens prayer. Which only goes to conclusively prove one thing...there are a lot of really stupid people out there.

 

And some of them are related to merolleyes.gif

 

 

 

Some Here.

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States quietly consider ObamaCare exchange mergers

 

A number of states are quietly considering merging their healthcare exchanges under ObamaCare amid big questions about their cost and viability.

 

Many of the 13 state-run ObamaCare exchanges are worried about how they’ll survive once federal dollars supporting them run dry next year.

 

 

Others are contemplating creating multi-state exchanges as a contingency plan for a looming Supreme Court ruling expected next month that could prevent people from getting subsidies to buy ObamaCare on the federal exchange.

The idea is still only in the infancy stage. It’s unclear whether a California-Oregon or New York-Connecticut health exchange is on the horizon.

But a shared marketplace — an option buried in a little-known clause of the Affordable Care Act — has become an increasingly attractive option for states desperate to slash costs. If state exchanges are not financially self-sufficient by 2016, they will be forced to join the federal system, HealthCare.gov.Scissors-32x32.png

 

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/242885-exclusive-states-consider-obamacare-mergers

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Surprise: Insurers Anticipate Significant 2016 Obamacare Premium Hikes

 

We opened the week on Obamacare, so let's close up shop on the same topic. Via Philip Klein:

In recent weeks, large insurers selling coverage through Obamacare have proposed massive rate increases for 2016 – even exceeding 40 percent – because they haven't been able to sign up enough young and healthy customers. This is an ominous sign for the future of Obamacare, because two federal programs that were supposed to act as training wheels for insurers in the early years of Obamacare by absorbing excess risk are set to expire after 2016. If insurers don't do a better job of attracting a healthier risk pool, 2017 promises to be a rocky year for insurance markets, regardless of which party is in control of the White House. In the first two years of the implementation of Obamacare's insurance exchanges (2014 and 2015), insurers set rates with the expectation that the government would absorb a certain degree of risk and they made assumptions about the medical costs of their enrollees. Now that insurers have had more time to look at the claims coming in from those enrolling from Obamacare, they're finding that the pool of customers is older and sicker than originally projected, driving up medical costs...Scissors-32x32.png

 

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2015/05/22/obamacare-premium-hikes-n2002338

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For MNsure, attracting small businesses is a big problem

Limited tax credits, slow system deter small firms from using the exchange.

Christopher Snowbeck

May 24, 2015

 

MNsure has missed big on one of its original selling points: getting more small businesses to offer insurance to employees. The government-run marketplace was expected to cover 155,000 people in small group plans by next year. That number was 1,405 earlier this month.

 

Insurance agents who connect small firms with coverage say several factors are at play, including a MNsure system they call slow and cumbersome. Steps that still cant be done online are burdensome. We dont have that kind of time, said Sheryl Frieman, an agent with Array Insurance in Golden Valley who calls herself a supporter of the federal health law. If I dont use it, no one is going to use it.

 

Minnesota created the MNsure exchange in 2013 to implement the Affordable Care Act, which called for new government-run health insurance marketplaces in all 50 states. With its troubled launch in late 2013, the Minnesota exchange opted to first fix technical problems for individual users. The system is better now, but still needs significant work for people enrolling in public health insurance through MNsure.

 

(Snip)

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Almost Half of State Health Insurance Exchanges Are Fighting for Survival

 

Almost half of the 17 health insurance exchanges set up by the states and the District of Columbia under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, are in trouble financially, The Washington Post reports.

The setbacks are creating fiscal headaches for state officials, just five years after the passage of President Barack Obama’s massive health care reform bill.

Many of the exchanges are dealing with rising costs, especially those related to inefficient technology, expensive customer support centers, and unexpectedly low enrollments.

To stave off financial crisis, state officials are considering a number of solutions, such as raising fees on insurers, cost-sharing with other states, and begging state lawmakers for a quick shot of cash. Others are looking at turning over the whole enterprise to the federal exchange HealthCare.gov.Scissors-32x32.png

http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2015/05/22/almost-half-state-health-insurance-exchanges-are-fighting-survival

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'Ugly' potential fallout from Supreme Court health care case

 

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Supreme Court ruling due in a few weeks could wipe out health insurance for millions of people covered by President Barack Obama's health care law. But it's Republicans — not White House officials — who have been talking about damage control.

A likely reason: Twenty-six of the 34 states that would be most affected by the ruling have Republican governors, and 22 of the 24 GOP Senate seats up in 2016 are in those states.

Obama's law offers subsidized private insurance to people without access to it on the job. In the court case, opponents of the law argue that its literal wording allows the federal government to subsidize coverage only in states that set up their own health insurance markets.

Most states have not done so, because of the intense partisanship over "Obamacare" and in some cases because of technical problems. Instead, they rely on the federal HealthCare.gov website.

If the court invalidates the subsidies in those states, an estimated 8 million people could lose coverage. The results would be "ugly," said Sandy Praeger, a former Kansas insurance commissioner.

"People who are reasonably healthy would just drop coverage," she said. "Only the unhealthy would keep buying health care. It would really exacerbate the problem of the cost of health insurance."

 

Praeger, a Republican who retired this year, called it "a classic death spiral," using a term for market collapse.Scissors-32x32.png

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/05/25/ugly-potential-fallout-from-supreme-court-health-care-case-n2003514

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Obamacare to add nearly $300 billion in overhead: Study
Robert King
May 27, 2015

Obamacare will add more than $270 billion in overhead costs for insurers and the federal government over the next seven years, a new study reveals.

 

Nearly two-thirds of the new overhead, $172.2 billion, goes to increased private insurer's administrative costs due to rising enrollment. The rest go to expanded government programs such as Medicaid, according to the study released Tuesday in the blog for the journal Health Affairs.

 

In addition to Medicaid, the overhead costs go toward running the health exchanges for Obamacare, according to authors David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, professors at the City University of New York School of Public Health.

 

The professors estimated the overhead costs after examining projections released by the federal government in July.

 

(Snip)

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How ‘Affordable’ Will Health Insurance Be in 2016?

 

For consumers purchasing health insurance under the Affordable Care Act next year, plans may no longer be quite as “affordable” as they were in the past.

 

Health insurance companies around the country are providing states with their proposed premium rates for 2016, and changes include rate hikes of up to 51 percent in New Mexico and more than 30 percent in Maryland and Tennessee.

 

The proposed rate changes come as the Supreme Court prepares to deliver its ruling on the case King v. Burwell, which will determine if consumers purchasing insurance on the federal exchange are eligible for subsidies, and as Republicans continue to push for a full repeal of the health care law.

 

“This is going to be a phenomenon of insurers that priced more optimistically instead of defensively,” Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow in health policy studies at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal of providers with hefty rate increases.

 

Perhaps the most drastic rate hike comes from New Mexico, where Health Care Services Corp. requested a 51.6 percent increase to premiums. The rate hike must be approved by the state.Scissors-32x32.png

 

http://dailysignal.com/2015/06/01/how-affordable-will-health-insurance-be-in-2016/

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The Obamacare Death Spiral Is Still Coming

 

Even if King v Burwell case fails at the U.S. Supreme Court next month, the future for the Obamacare exchanges is still far from assured. Even if people on the 37 federal exchanges get to keep their subsidies, chances are they will eventually be caught in the vortex of the “death spiral.”

A death spiral occurs when not enough young and healthy people sign up for health insurance. Thanks to Obamacare’s design, a death spiral is inevitable. Here’s why.

 

Obamacare’s community rating results in insurance prices that are higher for younger people than they would be in a free market, and its guaranteed issue allows people to sign up for insurance even if they get sick, so young and healthy people have ample incentive to forgo insurance. This leaves the insurance “risk pool” older and sicker and, hence, more costly to insure. Premiums will have to rise to cover those costs, leading some of the younger and healthier people who did initially sign up to then drop out. The risk pool then becomes even older and sicker, premiums rise again, and the process repeats.

 

A study by the late Conrad Meier examining the effect of these laws on eight states shows that premium hikes of at least 20 percent (and usually higher) are the canary in the coal mine for a death spiral.Scissors-32x32.png

 

http://thefederalist.com/2015/06/02/the-obamacare-death-spiral-is-still-coming/

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NYT: In Vermont, ObamaCare flopped so bad it killed single payer
Ed Morrissey

June 4, 2015

 

When Barack Obama and Democrats on Capitol Hill first rolled out ObamaCare, conservatives warned that the program was so badly designed that it couldn’t possibly be on the level. Instead, people assumed that Democrats intended ObamaCare to fail — so that the only possible choice would be a single-payer system of socialized medicine. Even after Democrats reluctantly eliminated the “public option,” opponents insisted that the intended end game was failure so bad that it would destroy private insurance and leave nothing but the federal government to pick up the pieces.

 

The problem with that strategy, if indeed that was the plan, is apparent in Vermont. Before ObamaCare, the state was headed toward a popular single-payer plan. The utter flop of ObamaCare has killed that dream, perhaps forever:

 

 

Just a few years ago, lawmakers in this left-leaning state viewed President Obama’s Affordable Care Act as little more than a pit stop on the road to a far more ambitious goal: single-payer, universal health care for all residents.

 

Then things unraveled. The online insurance marketplace that Vermont built to enroll people in private coverage under the law had extensive technical failures. The problems soured public and legislative enthusiasm for sweeping health care changes just as Gov. Peter Shumlin needed to build support for his complex single-payer plan. Finally, Mr. Shumlin, a Democrat, shelved the plan in December, citing the high cost to taxpayers. He called the decision “the greatest disappointment of my political life.” …

 

(Snip)

 

 

 

Single-payer backers in Vermont, Shumlin among them, tried to blame the mess on the insurers, claiming that the involvement of the private sector is what created the ObamaCare mess. Consumers forced to use the state exchange know better. Despite having more than two years and hundreds of millions of dollars to fix the government-run part of ObamaCare, it’s still a disaster. Normal changes to coverage take weeks to accomplish rather than the few minutes it would take if dealing directly with insurers. Premiums have gone up and so have deductibles, which means that more people may have insurance, but they will get less out of it in the end.

 

(Snip)

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The Fantasy That ObamaCare 'Is Working'

Steve Moore

 

[ObamaCare] is workingWe havent had a lot of conversation about the horrors of Obamacare because none of them have come to pass. You got 16 million people whove gotten health insurance.

 

It hasnt had an adverse effect on people who already had health insurance. The overwhelming majority of them are satisfied with the health insurance

 

The costs have come in substantially lower than even our estimates about how much it would cost. Health care inflation overall has continued to be at some of the lowest levels in 50 years. None of the predictions about how this wouldnt work have come to pass.

 

Barack Obama, June 8, 2015

 

 

Sometimes it seems President Obama lives in a parallel universe where facts are floating around to be plucked out of suspended animation. Never more so than on the effects of the Affordable Care Act.

 

So lets see whether anything he says on the new law, including that it is working, comports with the facts:

 

(Snip)

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Keep Working America: The Government Not Exactly Sure Where $3 Billion in Obamacare Subsidies Went
Katie Pavlich

Jun 16, 2015

 

Good news, America. Three billion dollars of hard earned tax money you've been sending to subsidize other people's healthcare plans 1) went to the wrong people 2) was paid out in the wrong amounts.

 

An Inspector General audit of the Department of Health and Human Services revealed today that Obamacare subsidies handled by the agency have been completely unorganized, disfunctional and misplaced. Why? Because HHS never implemented a system to ensure the subsides would be secure, distributed in the right amounts and sent to those who are eligible to receive them. More from the Washington Free Beacon:

 

(Snip)

 

According to the Inspector General, the audit was conducted "to determine whether CMS’s internal controls were effective to ensure the accuracy of financial assistance payments to QHP issuers made during the first 4 months that these payments were made."

 

"Without effective internal controls for ensuring that financial assistance payments are calculated and applied correctly, a significant amount (approximately $2.8 billion) of Federal funds are at risk (e.g., there is a risk that funds were authorized for payment to QHP issuers in the incorrect amounts)," the report states. "Our review focused on the effectiveness of CMS’s internal controls and, for the aforementioned reasons, did not verify whether these Federal funds were accurately applied on behalf of confirmed enrollees on an enrollee-by-enrollee basis."

 

(Snip)

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