Experimental Obamacare Health Plan Exits Chicago and Atlanta Exchanges

This Obamacare experiment is a flop.

Harken Health — billed as an “innovative” health insurer and started by America’s biggest insurance company to appeal to Obamacare customers — will exit the only two government-run exchange markets where it was selling coverage after reportedly booking losses of about $70 million in the first half of this year.

The UnitedHealth Group unit — which offers unlimited primary care visits at no out-of-pocket cost to customers who use Harken Health clinics — continue selling plans outside of Obamacare exchanges in the individual and employer markets of both Chicago and Atlanta next year.

Read more at CNBC

Cracks Appear In Blue Cross’ Obamacare Firewall

The nation’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans have been a firewall of sorts by continuing to offer coverage under the Affordable Care Act even as three of the nation’s largest health insurers–Aetna AET +0.22%, Humana HUM -0.67% and UnitedHealth Group UNH -0.45%–scale back their participation.

But two Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans that are dominant providers in their respective states this week said they are scaling back or pulling products off exchanges, complaining of financial losses.

Read more at Forbes

8.1 Million Taxpayers Paid $1.7 Billion in Obamacare Penalties in 2014

Nearly 8.1 million taxpayers paid $1,694,088,000 in Obamacare penalties for not having health insurance in 2014, the first year the penalty was in effect, according to the most recent data from the Internal Revenue Service.

“Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act required that individuals must have had health care coverage, qualified for a health coverage exemption, or made a shared responsibility payment with a tax return,” the IRS said. “A health care individual responsibility payment was made on 8.1 million returns for $1.7 billion, an average of $210 per tax return paying this penalty.”

Read more at The Free Beacon

A Millennial’s Obamacare Lament

ObamaCare won’t work without young Americans like me, and the Obama administration knows it. That’s why the president is holding a Millennial Outreach and Engagement Summit focused on the Affordable Care Act at the White House on Tuesday. But no matter what the president says, many young Americans simply aren’t buying what he’s selling—mainly because we can’t afford it.

The administration has targeted my generation to sign up for ObamaCare for one reason: We’re healthy. The health-insurance companies selling plans on the law’s exchanges need us to pay a pretty penny in premiums without using much medical care. We’re supposed to subsidize the system so that it stays afloat. That was the plan, anyway. It fell apart when we didn’t sign up in droves like the White House expected.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal

Football Team at the Buffet: Why Obamacare Markets Are in Crisis

You may have noticed that Obamacare’s health insurance markets are in trouble.

Insurers have announced that they are sharply raising prices or pulling out entirely. Many consumers will have fewer choices of insurance plans, and many insurance plans will include fewer doctors and hospitals.

The turmoil can’t be explained by one factor alone. But many of the most important problems can be understood if you think of an Obamacare marketplace as a particular kind of restaurant: an all-you-can-eat buffet. It can be a solid business, but it’s hard to get the pricing right.

Read more at The New York Times

Obamacare Has Increased Insurance Coverage Everywhere

When congressional candidates last hit the campaign trail in 2014, one word seemed to be at the top of the agenda for virtually every Republican: Obamacare. But that was before most of the law’s provisions took effect. Two years later, the health law seems to have faded as a campaign issue.

New data released this month might give a hint as to why: The uninsured rate — the share of the population without health insurance — dropped in every congressional district in the country between 2013 and 2015, according to the American Community Survey.

Read more at FiveThirtyEight

Obamacare Doesn’t Cost More Than Other Health Insurance, Report Finds

Obamacare may have come under fire for rising health insurance premiums, but plans offered by employers, which cover far more people, are rising even faster, a new report shows.

On average, premiums for “benchmark” plans offered on the state and federal government health insurance marketplaces are 10 percent lower than for the average employer-sponsored plan, the team at the Urban Institute found.

Read more at NBC News

The Public Option In Obamacare

The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, exchanges are melting down. Premiums are rising sharply. Compared to 2015-16, when the median change in the lowest-cost “silver plan” was an increase of 10.8 percent, the 2016-17 requests averaged an increase of 27 percent. In one of the worst cases, Tennessee will have 3 insurers on the exchange with premiums increasing between 44 and 62 percent, while Arizona will see average premium increases of 51 percent. At the same time, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs are increasing as well.  Forty percent of individuals are now in high-deductible health plans; up from just 25 percent when the ACA was signed into law. The average deductible for individual coverage among silver plans in 2016 is $3,117, up 6 percent from 2015 and the the average out-of-pocket maximum is $6,110. Despite the price tag rising, exchange insurance is buying less access to providers. Three quarters of exchange plans will have narrow networks next year; up from  64 percent in 2016 and 55 percent in 2015.

Read more at The American Action Forum

House Democrats Say Obamacare Is Still an Improvement Over the Pre-2010 Marketplace

The Obama administration and its Democratic allies defended the 2010 health law’s struggles Wednesday as the natural growing pains of an ambitious program, saying it remains a net plus compared with the pre-Obamacare era.

America’s uninsured rate is at an all-time low and, “despite concerns about rate increases,” outside analysts estimate that premiums will be 12 percent to 20 percent lower than what congressional scorekeepers predicted when the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, testified Andy Slavitt, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Read more at The Washington Times

Obamacare Marketplaces Remain Vulnerable to Fraud, New Government Audits Find

Don’t worry if you don’t exist, you can still get Obamacare.

Two new government audits reveal that the nation’s Obamacare marketplaces remain “vulnerable to fraud,” after investigators successfully applied for coverage for multiple people who don’t actually exist.

In several cases this year, fake people who hadn’t filed tax returns for 2014 were still able to get Obamacare tax credits to help pay their monthly premiums for 2016 coverage. This year is the first in which applicants for those subsidies had to have filed their federal tax returns from prior coverage years to obtain such assistance.

Read more at CNBC