Tag Archives: Affordable Care Act

Big rate hikes for health insurance will slam Washingtonians

O laughs

Obamacare going as planned…

This is not happening just in Washington. I have health insurance with BCBS OK and pay $550/month – up from $380/month last year. I have no co-pays (I pay the full contracted price when I walk through the doctor’s door) and a $6,800 annual deductible. BCBS informed me that my wonderful plan is being eliminated and I will soon receive my options for next year. I can hardly wait to see how much I get slammed.

From MyNorthwest.com: Open enrollment for health insurance in 2018 starts on Nov. 1 and thousands of people in Washington state will see big increases in their premiums.

The state’s insurance commissioner will officially release rates next week, and his office is warning that hundreds of thousands of people who do not get their insurance through an employer, will see a rate hike in the double digits.

Some 330,000 Washingtonians don’t get health insurance through an employer.

“I’m one of the folks who has to go out and get insurance on my own,” said Edward Weatherly, who is currently working a temp job. His monthly premiums?  “It costs me about $430 a month,” Weatherly said.

And the state’s insurance commissioner, Mike Kreidler, says rates for 2018 will go up – by a lot. “We’re looking at rate increases that are going to be in the 20s (percentage). We haven’t seen that, except going back before the Affordable Care Act,” Kreidler said.

The ones hardest hit will be the middle class – people who don’t qualify for a subsidy.

“It’s that person who doesn’t receive any help that I’m worried about. That’s going (to) say, ‘I’m going to hit the wall and I can’t afford this any longer,’” Kriedler said.

Weatherly is one of those individuals. He says it’s already difficult to make ends meet. “In addition to the rent, it’s pretty tough every month,” Weatherly said. “And there have been a couple of times I’ve thought about letting the insurance go.”

It gets worse – the insurance commissioner says people who are not subsidized with the most popular “Silver Plan” could see even more dramatic rate hikes. “On top of the mid-20 percent rate increase, they could see a 9 to 27 percent (increase) on top of that,” Kreidler said.

He says one reason for the steep increases is the uncertainty coming out of Washington, D.C. “I don’t care if they call it ‘Trumpcare’ whatever it is. But you’ve got to do something to make sure you’re taking care of the people. Access to affordable quality health insurance,” he said.

Weatherly says he’s hoping for a change.

I’m hoping we just get to a point where it becomes a right. So many things that we argue about, at both the national and the state level, that to me in the overall scheme of things don’t mean anything. It’s not life and death. Whereas health insurance, to me, is life and death,” Weatherly said.

The state insurance commissioner plans to release official rate hikes Thursday. Where you live could also impact how much your rates will go up, and the rates will be broken down by region, insurer and plan.

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Aetna drops last 2 state markets under Affordable Care Act

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Obamacare going as planned. Let’s hope we can get rid of this monstrosity.

From Yahoo: While Republicans rewrite the Affordable Care Act in Washington, the future of the current law has grown hazier with the nation’s third-largest health insurer completely divorcing itself from state-based insurance markets.

Aetna said late Wednesday that it won’t sell individual coverage next year in its two remaining states — Nebraska and Delaware — after projecting a $200 million loss this year. It had already dropped Iowa and Virginia for next year. The insurer once sold the coverage in 15 states, but slashed that to four after losing about $450 million in 2016.

The government-backed marketplaces are a pillar of the Obama-era federal law because they allow millions of people to buy health insurance with help from income-based tax credits. But insurers like Humana, and now Aetna, have been fleeing that market, and the remaining coverage options are growing thin. Other companies like the Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer Anthem say they are wary of returning without a guarantee that the government will provide cost-sharing subsidies that reduce expenses like co-payments. Those are separate from the tax credits that help pay premiums.

The White House has assured lawmakers it will continue paying the subsidies, but it has offered no long-term guarantee.

About 12 million people bought coverage for this year on the exchanges, and every market had at least one insurer offering coverage. But a growing number were down to one.

Companies are in the middle of figuring out their prices and coverage plans for next year, and insurance experts expect some holes to develop in those marketplaces.

“All it takes is one insurance company to exit, and that can create panic for other insurers and they pull out too,” said Cynthia Cox, a health insurance expert for the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies health care. “Insurers don’t want to be the last one holding the bag.”

The federal law prevents insurers from rejecting patients based on their health, so if competitors pull out, the last insurer may be left covering all the high-cost patients in that market.

Metropolitan or highly populated areas are still expected to draw several insurers. But rural areas may not be attractive to insurers looking to cut losses. They generally have a smaller, older population.

Ultimately, insurers with the most common brand in health insurance, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, will decide the fate of the marketplaces. Many of those plans specialize in individual insurance and have a long-standing presence in their markets. They also are the only remaining option on exchanges in nearly a third of the nation’s more than 3,100 counties.

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Candlelight vigils and funerals are being planned to highlight those who, activists say, will die under Trumpcare

hyperbole

From Vocativ: Activists are planning several protests around the country — at elected representatives’ offices and places of worship — to mourn for those they say will die if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

Protesters are holding candlelight vigils, symbolic funerals, and die-in demonstrations to protest President Trump and the Republican Party’s efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare with a new bill, called the American Health Care Act or AHCA. The first vote by the House of Representatives on the measure is scheduled for Thursday.

One of the more grim protests being planned will be held in Des Moines, Iowa, in front of Republican Congressman David Young’s office. Organizers say the event is “a vigil to mourn the deaths of the Iowans and Americans that will die if Trumpcare is passed. Almost 200 Iowans are projected to die each year, 2000 total over the next decade. We need to make sure David Young knows what he would be voting for.”

Organizing For Action, the political advocacy group that grew out of President Obama’s first presidential campaign, is planning a funeral procession in New York’s Staten Island with an effigy of Trump as the grim reaper. The protest, planned for Thursday, will march to Representative Dan Donovan’s office.

Indivisible, an organization made up of former Congressional staffers, is also organizing a series of candlelight vigils for the estimated 24,000 people who will die yearly if the GOP plan is passed as it currently stands. One demonstration, to be held at a San Diego church, will “pray for mercy for the sick and suffering in San Diego and across America.”

In Cincinnati, nearly 100 people have said they will attend a “die-in” protest on Wednesday. Each participant is instructed to lie down on the ground while holding a sign stating their hypothetical cause of death. Among the suggestions are “I died from a bacterial infection because I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor” and “My cervical cancer wasn’t discovered in time because I couldn’t go to Planned Parenthood.”

The American Health Care Act is scheduled for a floor vote in the House of Representatives on March 23. President Trump and his administration have reportedly held a series of phone calls and meeting intended to pressure Republicans opposed to the bill to fall in line.  Several Republican lawmakers have come out against the bill, which they say fails to live up to promises of a full Obamacare repeal.

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, some 24 million Americans are estimated to lose health insurance over the next decade if the plan goes through.

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UN warned Trump that ObamaCare repeal could violate international law

United Nations

From Fox News: The United Nations warned the Trump administration earlier this year that repealing ObamaCare without providing an adequate replacement would be a violation of multiple international laws, according to a new report.

Though the Trump administration is likely to ignore the U.N. warning, The Washington Post reported the Office of the U.N. High Commission on Human Rights in Geneva sent an “urgent appeal” on Feb 2.

The Post reported that the confidential, five-page memo cautioned that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would put the U.S. “at odds with its international obligations.”

The warning was sent to the State Department and reportedly said the U.N. expressed “serious concern” about the prospective loss of health coverage for 30 million people, that in turn could violate “the right to social security of the people in the United States.”

Congressional Republicans failed in March to pass an ObamaCare replacement bill. A new proposal is emerging on Capitol Hill, but it’s unclear when it might be considered and how sweeping it may be.

A spokesman for the U.N.’s human rights office in Geneva confirmed the authenticity of the letter, which was sent by Dainius Puras, a Lithuanian doctor who serves the U.N. as “Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”

Xabier Celaya, a spokesman for the U.N., said Puras cannot comment on his ObamaCare letter until it becomes public in June.

Though the report calls out the Trump administration, there’s very little the U.N. can actually do. 

According to the report, the letter sent to the Trump administration also was supposed to be shared with the majority and minority leaders in both houses of Congress — but that did not happen.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer’s office said they never received the letter, as did officials in House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office. The letter from Puras did make its way to the Department of Health and Human Services, where an unnamed employee supposedly leaked it.

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Poll: Most young people say gov’t should pay for health care

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The public education indoctrination system has succeeded.

From Seattle Times: Most young Americans want any health care overhaul under President Donald Trump to look a lot like the Affordable Care Act signed into law by his predecessor, President Barack Obama.

But there’s one big exception: A majority of young Americans dislike “Obamacare’s” requirement that all Americans buy insurance or pay a fine.

A GenForward poll says a majority of people ages 18 to 30 think the federal government should be responsible for making sure Americans have health insurance. It suggests most young Americans won’t be content with a law offering “access” to coverage, as Trump and Republicans in Congress proposed in doomed legislation they dropped March 24. The Trump administration is talking this week of somehow reviving the legislation.

Conducted Feb. 16 through March 6, before the collapse of the GOP bill, the poll shows that 63 percent of young Americans approve of the Obama-era health care law. It did not measure reactions to the Republican proposal.

The most popular element of the law is allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, which is favored by 75 percent of 18-30 year olds. It’s not just that they personally benefit — an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll conducted in January found that provision was equally popular among all adults. That proposal was included in the failed GOP overhaul.

But the Republican plan also contained provisions that most young Americans — the racially diverse electorate of the future — do not support, according to the poll. Two-thirds of young people agree with a smaller majority of Americans overall that the government should make sure people have health care coverage. And they understand that will cost more: Sixty-three percent want the government to increase spending to help people afford insurance.

Those feelings cut across racial lines and include most whites, who formed the base of Trump’s political support in the presidential election. “I do believe the government should offer it because we pay taxes,” said Rachel Haney, 27, of Tempe, Arizona. “I do feel like it’s a right.”

GenForward is a survey of adults age 18 to 30 by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with the AP-NORC Center. The poll pays special attention to the voices of young adults of color, highlighting how race and ethnicity shape the opinions of a new generation.

Only about a quarter of young people want “Obamacare” repealed. That includes 16 percent of young adults who want it repealed and replaced as Trump has vowed and another 10 percent who want it repealed without a replacement. Just over a third of young whites want to see the law repealed, making them more likely than those of other racial and ethnic groups to say so.

“He just wants to protect us from al-Qaida, and terrorism,” said Kervin Dorsainvil, 18, a computer technician from Port Charlotte, Florida. “I feel like health care should be much higher on the list. I feel like we have the resources, the medical technology and everything in place to provide the health care to the people. So why wouldn’t we do that?”

Young people are more likely than Americans overall to say the government should make sure people have health care. A recent AP-NORC poll of U.S. adults, conducted during and after the collapse of the GOP proposal, found just 52 percent called it a federal government responsibility to make sure all Americans have coverage.

Despite their overall approval of “Obamacare,” young Americans’ views on the law aren’t all rosy. Just a third say the law is working relatively well, while another third think the health care policy has serious problems. About 2 in 10 consider the law to be fatally flawed.

The law’s requirement that all Americans buy insurance or pay a fine is opposed by 54 percent of young people and favored by just 28 percent.

On the other hand, 71 percent favor the law’s Medicaid expansion, 66 percent of young adults favor the prohibition on denying people coverage because of a person’s medical history, 65 percent favor requiring insurance plans to cover the full cost of birth control, 63 percent favor requiring most employers to pay a fine if they don’t offer insurance and 53 percent favor paying for benefit increases with higher payroll taxes for higher earners.

About a quarter of young adults say they personally have insurance through their parents, while another 1 in 10 have purchased insurance through an exchange.

Read the rest of the story here.

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$21.8 million in ObamaCare tax credits awarded to individuals who were not eligible to receive them

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From Fox News: The Affordable Care Act exchanges awarded $21.8 million in advance premium tax credits to individuals who were not eligible to receive them, according to an audit from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Advance premium tax credits are awarded to those with low to moderate income to help rein in the cost of purchasing health care insurance on the exchanges.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is responsible for overseeing the Obamacare exchanges which should ensure that an individual who applies for the tax credit has his identity verified and that the individual is eligible to receive the payment.

Individuals are asked a number of questions regarding their personal information such as their address, telephone number, date of birth, and out-of-wallet questions to determine their identity. After this process, individuals can submit an application to see if they are eligible to receive benefits.

The audit found that the exchanges did not successfully verify the identity of 35,276 individuals, and these individuals received $112 million in advance premium tax credits. The report notes that the majority of these applications—99 percent—had no verification process performed on them, and 251 failed identity verification.

Click for more from The Washington Free Beacon.

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Humana to quit Obamacare exchanges in 2018, providing fuel for Trump’s ‘repeal’ efforts

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From Yahoo:  While Republicans continue to grapple with plans to repeal and replace Obamacare and stabilize health insurance rates, Humana (HUM) is the first major insurer to say it is dropping out of the individual market for 2018.

“Based on our initial analysis of data associated with the company’s health-care exchange membership following the 2017 open enrollment period, we continue to see further signs of an unbalanced risk pool,” said Humana CEO Bruce Broussard, on a conference call with analysts Tuesday. “Therefore, the company has decided that it cannot continue to offer this coverage for 2018.”

In the wake of the news, President Donald Trump tweeted that the insurer’s decision was another example of the failure of the Affordable Care Act, and he reiterated his plan to “repeal, replace & save healthcare for ALL Americans.”

The health insurer made the announcement with its earnings update, following the mutual termination of its $34 billion merger agreement with Aetna (AET) earlier in the day. The two insurers agreed to part ways , after a federal court judge blocked the deal on antitrust grounds.

Humana now expects to earn $10.80 to $11.00 per share for 2017, excluding anticipated losses on its exchange business.

Humana cut back its Affordable Care Act exchange participation to 11 states last July, when the Department Of Justice sued to block its deal with Aetna. The insurer said that despite efforts to mitigate losses on its exchange plans in 2017 through narrower networks and selective market participation, it is seeing early signs of high pharmacy utilization among its new members.

Right now, the insurer estimated that it will lose a modest $45 million on ACA exchange plans, but it cautioned that this is an early estimate and “a number… that we’re going to have to evaluate.”

Other health insurers have threatened to pull out of the individual market if there is no clarity from Capitol Hill or Trump’s health officials on stabilizing the markets, but Humana is the first to say that it will pull out altogether.

Leading up to 2017 open enrollment, the exchange markets experienced tremendous turbulence last year, after most major insurers, including Humana, cut back on participation after suffering big losses on exchange plans.

Humana is a leading Medicare Advantage plan provider, and executives said that they don’t believe that they can achieve the same kind of health-care models on the Obamacare exchanges that they achieve with health plans for seniors.

The company does not hold out hope for more detail on Republican “repeal and replace” plans in the near term.

“We’re really feeling that this organization needs to stay focused on what we do well,” Broussard said, and the company can’t do that with Obamacare plans. “I think with that particular program, the way it is designed today and most likely the way it is designed in the future, will limit our ability… to get back into that marketplace.”

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