Millions of Poor Still Could Have Gotten Coverage Without Obamacare

Millions of poor Americans have signed up for no-cost health insurance that they could have gotten even without the passage of Obamacare.

These Americans already were eligible for Medicaid, a government-funded program that provides medical coverage at little or no cost, but they didn’t sign up for it because they didn’t have to or because they didn’t realize they could.

In recent years, however, the publicity of Obamacare has driven them to sign up in droves, so much so that economists and health policy wonks have dubbed the phenomenon the “woodwork effect,” or the “welcome mat” population. This group turned out to be larger than anyone anticipated.

Read more at US News & World Report

Obamacare’s November Surprise

The last thing Democrats want to contend with just a week before the 2016 presidential election is an outcry over double-digit insurance hikes as millions of Americans begin signing up for Obamacare.

But that looks increasingly likely as health plans socked by Obamacare losses look to regain their financial footing by raising rates.

Read more at Politico

Aetna CEO’s Cure For Obamacare Requires Congressional Remedy

Aetna chief executive Mark Bertolini has no confidence Congress and the Obama administration can move past politics in an election year and make changes he believes would stabilize the Affordable Care Act’s public exchanges.

But he’s got some ideas he hopes the next Congress and White House will consider to shore up so-called “risk pools” to attract more healthy people to buy policies. Healthy people paying premiums into the “pool” are critical to cover the costs of the mounting claims of sick Americans signing up to individual private coverage on exchanges. And that’s been a problem for Obamacare.

Read more at Forbes

Obamacare Disaster Will Be Obama’s Enduring Domestic Legacy

Even before he leaves office, Obamacare has begun unraveling.

The law was passed over the objections of a majority of Americans, it is still opposed by a majority of Americans — and their opposition has been vindicated. Last week, UnitedHealth Group announced that, after estimated losses of more than $1 billion for 2015 and 2016 under Obamacare, the company was pulling out of most of its ill-fated exchanges.

Even before he leaves office, Obamacare has begun unraveling.

Read more at The Washington Post

Obamacare Premiums Expected to Rise Sharply Amid Insurer Losses

Health insurance companies are laying the groundwork for substantial increases in ObamaCare premiums, opening up a line of attack for Republicans in a presidential election year.

Many insurers have been losing money on the ObamaCare marketplaces, in part because they set their premiums too low when the plans started in 2014. The companies are now expected to seek substantial price increases.

Read more at The Hill

This is the Real Reason Obamacare is Sputtering

The fix is actually very straightforward: We need to increase the generosity of its subsidies.

Sometimes a policy was just a bad idea from the get-go, and spending more will just throw good money after bad. But sometimes a policy was a perfectly workable idea, and we just didn’t spend enough on it.

Read more at The Week

Why United Healthcare’s Exit From Obamacare Matters

UnitedHealthcare will operate only in a “handful” of health insurance exchanges in 2017, down from 34 states this year, company officials said Tuesday.

The company did not provide the anticipated details in its first-quarter earnings announcement released Tuesday morning or in a subsequent teleconference with securities analysts. But a spokesman confirmed Nevada and Virginia would be among the states where it will retain a presence. In the past week, UnitedHealthcare said it would leave Georgia, Michigan, and Arkansas.

Read more at Money

An Insurance Giant Quits Obamacare

The largest U.S. health insurer is quitting ObamaCare, notes a Journal editorial. On Tuesday UnitedHealth Group reported a strong first quarter, with one exception: an increase in projected Affordable Care Act losses. CEO Stephen Hemsley said UnitedHealth will withdraw from the ObamaCare exchanges in all but “a handful of states” in 2017. The editorial board adds: “If UnitedHealth departs all markets, the number of U.S. counties served by three or more ObamaCare insurers will fall to 48% from 64% today, while the counties with a single insurer will rise to 24% from 7%. These trends could lead to even larger premium…

Read More at The Wall Street Journal

Insurers Warn Losses from Obamacare Are Unsustainable

Health insurance companies are amplifying their warnings about the financial sustainability of the Obamacare marketplaces as they seek approval for premium increases next year.

Insurers say they are losing money on their Obamacare plans at a rapid rate, and some have begun to talk about dropping out of the marketplaces altogether.

Read more at The Hill

Obamacare Shows Why Health Insurers Should Be More Like Southwest Airlines

About 25 percent of exchange users switched their plans in 2016. This is precisely what health wonks hoped would happen. In response, insurers have fought to keep costs down, narrowing networks and hiking deductibles.

The result is that Obamacare is proving much cheaper than the Congressional Budget Office originally expected. But many of the participating insurers aren’t much enjoying the experience — some priced their plans too low and are losing money, and others simply don’t see how to make enough money to justify the effort of participating in these state markets.

Maybe the right model for insurers is something like Southwest Airlines: low prices, narrow networks, exceptional customer service, and not much else.

Read more at Vox