Sep 122017

Many of you remember when Senator McCain joined with Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins to thwart a repeal of Obamacare. While McCain is currently involved in an effort to do just this after he got eviscerated in his home state (remember the 40% rate increase last year?), the President has had to apply himself against a feckless Republican leadership.

In the wake of the Democrats Unanimous opposition to the repeal, the bad news accelerated. It turns out that in New Hampshire, their welfare recipients are younger than the national average yet cost 26% more to provide health care for.

Despite the loss in Congress, the President has moved forward with gutting Obamacare. They cut 90% of the advertising budget from the department of Health and Human Services.

The Trump Administration also cut off a huge slush fund for Obamacare Navigators, actually requiring them to produce results versus taking checks for doing nothing.

In 2016, $62.5 million was spent on the program, which resulted in 81,426 individuals signing up for coverage, which was only 0.7 percent of total enrollees. Data finds that there were 17 navigators that only signed up 100 people, which means each enrollee cost about $5,000. There was one Navigator that only signed up one enrollee but received a grant of $200,000.

Anthem left Kentucky, leaving most of the state with only one coverage option.

This is the sixth state the health insurer has announced it will be either exiting or scaling back coverage in. Anthem has already made these announcements in regards to Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Nevada, and Ohio.

Another disaster – 24.8 Million Americans are enrolled in High-Deductible Health Plans. This means most that have insurance now have inferior coverage.

Some states have seen deductibles rise at a faster rate than others. For example, average deductibles in Hawaii were only $988 compared with New Hampshire where average deductibles were $2,434. While 14 states saw significant hikes in average deductibles, only two states saw a decline.

“High-deductible health plans are increasingly becoming the norm in commercial insurance, and there is every reason to expect this trend to continue,” said Katherine Hempstead, senior advisor at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Deductibles rose considerably faster than premiums, and the share of health care spending made directly by consumers will continue to grow.”

On the heels of President Trump cutting a stunning, surprise deal with the Democrats on the “Debt Ceiling” (More on that in another post), we are starting to see signs of a crack in Congress related to Obamacare. The rapidity of the collapse after the failure of the first repeal attempt has to be weighing on Congress as well:

State officials sounded the alarm Wednesday on Capitol Hill about skyrocketing ObamaCare premiums as insurers across the country propose double-digit rate hikes – renewing pressure on Congress to act. Insurance commissioners and officials from Alaska, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Washington state all testified before a Senate committee on the 2018 premium hikes, which are being finalized over the next few weeks. In Alaska, premiums have increased 203 percent since 2013, according to Lori Wing-Heier, the state’s director of the Division of Insurance. “On average, the increase means that an Alaskan in the individual market who was paying a monthly premium of $344 per month in 2013 is paying $1,041 per month in 2017,” Wing-Heier told the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions committee.

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak told the panel he has been warning about “spiking rates” for too long and those warnings “have been ignored at the federal level.” “Oklahoma is facing the collapse of our individual health insurance market,” Doak said, adding that the state has seen a rise in premiums of 130 percent over the last four years. And in Tennessee, proposed 2018 premium increases are between 21 and 42 percent, according to Julie Mix McPeak, the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. “Tennessee consumers will have at least one option for coverage, but only one,” McPeak said, noting that “a single choice” did not represent the state’s “ideal marketplace competition.”  “Our consumers have seen premium prices skyrocket while their choices dropped substantially.” McPeak added: “The current Affordable Care Act trajectory is not sustainable.”

Got all that? State Insurance commissioners went to Washington DC pleading for help.

More than sixty thousand ObamaCare enrollees in Virginia could be without an insurer next year after Optima Health announced it was leaving many of the state’s markets, according to officials in the state. Optima said it plans to exit many of the counties that it served in 2017, after previously planning to cover nearly the entire state next year. The move would leave 63 of Virginia’s 95 counties without an insurance option for 2018…Optima also said it would be raising premiums by 81 percent for any customer who doesn’t qualify for subsidies from the federal government…Optima said some of the premium increase was due to uncertainty surrounding federal funding for ObamaCare’s cost-sharing reduction payments. It also said some of the increase was due to other national carriers leaving the state. Anthem, Aetna and UnitedHealth have already announced plans to exit Virginia’s ObamaCare markets entirely next year.

President Trump never stopped hammering Congress even after the first attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare failed. See the embedded tweets that led to a watershed moment in politics that occurred recently as we pick this up in our next post.

This Time People Won’t Ignore the #ACA Trainwreck

 Barack Obama, Health Care Reform  Comments Off on This Time People Won’t Ignore the #ACA Trainwreck
Mar 202014

Mitt Romney was right. – (hint, hint, my day job) was right. IN 17 years of doing insurance, Government interference has been the number one cause of instability.

And, it continues:

Earlier This Month, The Obama Administration Finalized Rules Pushing The ObamaCare 2015 Enrollment Period Past This Year’s Midterms. “The new rules also formalize a delay in next year’s open-enrollment window and extend that window by a month. Enrollment will begin Nov. 15 and run through Feb. 15.” (Sam Baker, “Another ObamaCare Delay,” National Journal, 3/5/14)

  • The Obama Administration Has Sought To Keep The Cost Of Premiums From The Public Until After The Election.“The delays push the beginning of the enrollment window—when people will get a look at their premiums—past the November midterms, and the extended window gives the administration more time to try to bring in more people.” (Sam Baker, “Another ObamaCare Delay,” National Journal, 3/5/14)

According To Health Industry Experts, The Affordable Care Act Is Shaping Up To Be The Unaffordable Care Act

The Hill’s Headline: “O-Care Premiums About To Skyrocket.”(Elise Viebeck, “O-Care Premiums About To Skyrocket,” The Hill’s Health Watch, 3/19/14)

Health Industry Officials Expect “ObamaCare-Related Premiums” To Double Across The Country Before The 2015 Enrollment Period. “Health industry officials say ObamaCare-related premiums will double in some parts of the country, countering claims recently made by the administration. The expected rate hikes will be announced in the coming months amid an intense election year, when control of the Senate is up for grabs. The sticker shock would likely bolster the GOP’s prospects in November and hamper ObamaCare insurance enrollment efforts in 2015.” (Elise Viebeck, “O-Care Premiums About To Skyrocket,” The Hill’s Health Watch, 3/19/14)

According To An Insurance Official, ObamaCare “Is Going To Lead To Higher Costs.” “‘It’s pretty shortsighted because I think everybody knows that the way the exchange has rolled out … is going to lead to higher costs,’ said one senior insurance executive who requested anonymity.”(Elise Viebeck, “O-Care Premiums About To Skyrocket,” The Hill’s Health Watch, 3/19/14)

  • The Official Expects Rates At His Company To Triple On The ObamaCare Exchange. “The insurance official, who hails from a populous swing state, said his company expects to triple its rates next year on the ObamaCare exchange.” (Elise Viebeck, “O-Care Premiums About To Skyrocket,” The Hill’s Health Watch, 3/19/14)

Bill Hoagland, Sr. Vice President At The Bipartisan Policy Center: “These [Premium] Increases Will Be Significant.” “‘My gut tells me that, for some people, these increases will be significant,’ said Bill Hoagland, a former executive at Cigna and current senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center.” (Elise Viebeck, “O-Care Premiums About To Skyrocket,” The Hill’s Health Watch, 3/19/14)

  • In Iowa, “Rates Are Expected To Rise 100 Percent” On The ObamaCare Exchange While Employer Sponsored Coverage Rates Are Set To Double. “In Iowa, which hosts the first presidential caucus in the nation and has a competitive Senate race this year, rates are expected to rise 100 percent on the exchange and by double digits on the larger, employer-based market, according to a recent article in the Business Record.”(Elise Viebeck, “O-Care Premiums About To Skyrocket,” The Hill’s Health Watch, 3/19/14)

Instead Of Helping, Obama’s ObamaCare Delays Will Trigger The Spikes In Costs. “But insurance officials are quick to emphasize that any spikes would be a consequence of delays and changes in ObamaCare’s rollout.”(Elise Viebeck, “O-Care Premiums About To Skyrocket,” The Hill’s Health Watch, 3/19/14)


Obamacare Discriminates Against Rural America

 Health Care Reform  Comments Off on Obamacare Discriminates Against Rural America
Feb 212014

An Analysis By The Wall Street Journal Found That Many Americans That Reside In Rural, Poorer Areas Of The Country Face Limited Health Options And High Premiums On The ObamaCare Exchange. “Hundreds of thousands of Americans in poorer counties have few choices of health insurers and face high premiums through the online exchanges created by the health-care law, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal of offerings in 36 states.” (Timothy W. Martin and Christopher Weaver, “For Many, Few Health-Plan Choices, High Premiums On Online Exchanges,” The Wall Street Journal, 2/13/14)

  • “Consumers In 515 Counties, Spread Across 15 States, Have Only One Insurer Selling Coverage Through The Online Marketplaces, The Journal Found.” (Timothy W. Martin and Christopher Weaver, “For Many, Few Health-Plan Choices, High Premiums On Online Exchanges,” The Wall Street Journal, 2/13/14)

An Office Manager In Rural Florida, The Cost Of A Midlevel Plan Was About $200 More Expensive That A Similar Plan Offered In Tampa. “Rebecca Stephens, an office manager from Wauchula, Fla., recently discovered there was only one health insurer offering coverage in rural, low-income Hardee County, and the midlevel plan she wanted to buy cost about $200 more a month than a similar plan in nearby Tampa.” (Timothy W. Martin and Christopher Weaver, “For Many, Few Health-Plan Choices, High Premiums On Online Exchanges,” The Wall Street Journal, 2/13/14)

  • Rebecca Stephens: “That It Costs Me More For Health Insurance Than Someone In Tampa Doesn’t Seem Equal To Me.” “‘That it costs me more for health insurance than someone in Tampa doesn’t seem equal to me,’ said Ms. Stephens.” (Timothy W. Martin and Christopher Weaver, “For Many, Few Health-Plan Choices, High Premiums On Online Exchanges,” The Wall Street Journal, 2/13/14)

For A Small Business Owner In Rural Georgia, The Cost Of Coverage On The ObamaCare Exchange Is Unaffordable. If Lee Mullins lived in Pittsburgh, he could buy mid-level health coverage for his family for $940 a month. If he lived in Beverly Hills, he would pay $1,405. But Mullins, who builds custom swimming pools, lives in southwest Georgia. Here, a similar health plan for his family of four costs $2,654 a month. This largely agrarian pocket of Georgia, where peanuts and pecans are major crops and hunters bag alligators up to 10 feet long, is one of the most expensive places in the nation to buy health insurance through the new online marketplaces created by the federal health law.” (Jordan Rau, “In Rural Georgia, Federal Health Insurance Marketplace Proves Unaffordable To Many,” The Washington Post, 2/1/14)

People That Don’t Qualify For ObamaCare Subsidies Or Receive Small Subsidies, The Cost Of Health Coverage Is “Overwhelming.” “But for those earning too much to qualify for federal financial help, the premiums can be overwhelming. A 60-year-old making $47,000 in Albany would have to pay a quarter of her income for the least expensive mid-level ‘silver’ policy, the level most consumers are buying.” (Jordan Rau, “In Rural Georgia, Federal Health Insurance Marketplace Proves Unaffordable To Many,” The Washington Post, 2/1/14)

  • After Selecting A Plan For Her Son, A Pottery Shop Owner In Rural Georgia Has Decided To Forego Insurance Coverage For Her And Her Husband As Rates On The ObamaCare Exchange Were Unaffordable. “Even some people who qualify for federal assistance, such as Stacie Brown, owner of a pottery shop, are balking. The cheapest ‘bronze’ plan for Brown, her husband and son would cost the family $300 a month but not begin paying medical bills until they exceeded the $6,300 individual deductible. The cheapest silver plan would cost $508 a month but not start paying until a $3,000 individual deductible was met. Her son’s pediatrician was not in any of the networks, and that was the one medical service she felt sure her family would use. Brown ultimately bought a $256-a-month Assurant Health plan for her son, sold outside the marketplace, which covers his pediatrician and unlimited office visits. She and her husband have decided to forgo coverage for themselves, even though they may face a tax penalty of $700. ‘I can’t afford the affordable health care,’ she said. ‘I don’t know anyone in this area who can afford it, and I do pretty well in life.’” (Jordan Rau, “In Rural Georgia, Federal Health Insurance Marketplace Proves Unaffordable To Many,”The Washington Post, 2/1/14)


The Truth Behind the Obamacare Enrollment Numbers

 Health Care Reform  Comments Off on The Truth Behind the Obamacare Enrollment Numbers
Feb 182014

As The Obama Administration “Touted” The Number Of ObamaCare Enrollees, Many See “Warning Signs Amid The Statistics.” “The Obama administration’s most recent tally of enrollees under the Affordable Care Act highlights the wildly divergent views of the program’s success status. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) touted figures released Wednesday as reason for optimism, while others see only warning signs amid the statistics.” (Sharyl Attkisson, “On ObamaCare Enrollment, Insurers Don’t Share Government’s Optimism,” CBS News, 2/13/14)

The Lack Of Young, Healthy Enrollees Will Increase Premiums For Everyone

The Number Of Young Adults Enrolling In ObamaCare “Is Well Below The 38 Percent” Projected By The Obama Administration To Achieve A Health Risk Pool. “U.S. government data released this week show the demographic of adults aged 18-34 rose only slightly by the end of January to 25 percent of total enrollment in private ObamaCare plans. That is well below the 38 percent that administration officials have talked about achieving to give insurers a strong mix of healthier members, whose premium payments help offset the cost of older, sicker policyholders.” (David Morgan, “ObamaCare Enrollment Push for The Young Enters 11th Hour,” Reuters, 2/14/14)

  • Only 25 Percent Of ObamaCare Signups Are Young Adults. “But only 25 percent of those enrolled were between the ages of 18-34, well below the 40 percent benchmark the administration set for the age group. Younger, healthier enrollees are necessary to subsidize coverage for older enrollees.” (Zeke Miller, “ObamaCare Enrollment Still Lagging With Young People,” Time, 2/12/14)

Insurance Industry Representative Robert Laszewski: “There Is No Way You Can Get A Good Spread Of Risk With Such A Small Percentage Of The Total Eligible Signing Up.” “But the rosy portrait shatters under an alternate interpretation by insurance industry representative Robert Laszewski of Health Policy and Strategy Associates. ‘They made a big deal about the age results,’ said Laszewski after reviewing the HHS numbers. ‘But the greater challenge for them is the low number of people enrolling. There is no way you can get a good spread of risk with such a small percentage of the total eligible signing up.’” (Sharyl Attkisson, “On ObamaCare Enrollment, Insurers Don’t Share Government’s Optimism,” CBS News, 2/13/14)

  • Laszewski Said The Enrollment Number Don’t Look Great As Only A Fraction Of The Previously Uninsured Have Enrolled. “‘Looking at the total of 3.3 million, netting out the non-pays, and listening to the anecdotal carrier reports, it doesn’t look like we have more than a fraction—certainly something less than 10%— of the previously uninsured,’ said Laszewski. (Sharyl Attkisson, “On ObamaCare Enrollment, Insurers Don’t Share Government’s Optimism,” CBS News, 2/13/14)

“The Concern Is That The Fewer Young Adults Sign Up, The Higher Insurance Costs May Have To Rise For 2015.” (David Morgan, “ObamaCare Enrollment Push for The Young Enters 11th Hour,” Reuters, 2/14/14)

  • If The Trend Of Young Adults Enrolling Continues, The Nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation Said Premiums Would Rise 2.4 Percent In 2015. “Analysts at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation maintain that even if youth enrollment remains unchanged at 25 percent, it would add only 2.4 percent to 2015 premiums because the law compensates insurers for unexpected losses.” (David Morgan, “ObamaCare Enrollment Push for The Young Enters 11th Hour,” Reuters, 2/14/14)

A Source Involved With ObamaCare Implementation Called The Number Of Young Adults Enrolling In ObamaCare As “Progress” But “Roughly 40 Percent Of Enrollments Are Needed “To Help Achieve A Balanced Risk Pool.” “CBS News also received a guarded analysis from a source involved in implementation of the Affordable Care Act who supports ObamaCare. The source said the bump of young invincibles to 27 percent of January enrollees was ‘progress,’ but added ‘they neglect to point out that they need roughly 40 percent to help achieve a balanced risk pool’ necessary under a successful business model.” (Sharyl Attkisson, “On ObamaCare Enrollment, Insurers Don’t Share Government’s Optimism,” CBS News, 2/13/14)

And People Aren’t Paying Their Premiums On Time, Possibly Skewing White House Enrollment Figures

“One In Five People Who Signed Up For Health Insurance Under The New Health Care Law Failed To Pay Their Premiums On Time And Therefore Did Not Receive Coverage In January.” “One in five people who signed up for health insurance under the new health care law failed to pay their premiums on time and therefore did not receive coverage in January, insurance companies and industry experts say. Paying the first month’s premium is the final step in completing an enrollment. Under federal rules, people must pay the initial premium to have coverage take effect. In view of the chaotic debut of the federal marketplace and many state exchanges, the White House urged insurers to give people more time, and many agreed to do so. But, insurers said, some people missed even the extended deadlines.” (Robert Pear, “One-Fifth Of New Enrollees Under Health Care Law Fail To Pay First Premium,” The New York Times, 2/14/14)

The Obama Administration Defines An ObamaCare Enrollee As Someone That Has Selected A Health Plan – Not Someone Who Has Paid Their First Month’s Premium. “The administration has been criticized for releasing enrollment figures that include people who have selected a plan, but have not completed the process by making their first premium payment. Critics have warned that the administration’s numbers are inflated because not everyone who selects a plan will complete the final step needed to obtain coverage. … HHS has said it is not breaking down enrollees by who has made a payment because they only have access to information about those selecting plans on the website, as consumers are expected to pay the insurers directly after enrolling.” (Jonathan Easley, “Report: 20 Percent Failed To Pay ObamaCare Premiums,” The Hill’s Health Watch, 2/14/14)

  • Insurers Only Count Enrollees That Have Already Submitted A Payment. “Health insurance plans only count subscribers as enrolled in a health plan once they’ve submited a payment. That is when the carrier sends out a member card and begins paying doctor bills.” (Sarah Kliff, “Who Counts As An ObamaCare Enrollee? The Obama Administration Settles On A Definition,” The Washington Post’s Wonk Blog, 11/11/13)


Salud Con Nada: #ACA Missing the Mark Badly With Latino Community

 Health Care Reform  Comments Off on Salud Con Nada: #ACA Missing the Mark Badly With Latino Community
Feb 172014

Enrollment Of Latinos In ObamaCare “Has Fallen Strikingly Below The Hopes Of The Law’s Proponents.” “But so far, enrollment of Latinos has fallen strikingly below the hopes of the law’s proponents, accounting for 20 percent or fewer of those who had signed up on the state-run health insurance exchange by the end of December. Now, state officials are rushing to expand marketing efforts and hire additional Spanish-speaking staff, hoping to sharply increase that number by March 31, when open enrollment in the new insurance plans ends.” (Jennifer Medina and Abby Goodnough, “States Struggle To Add Latinos To Health Rolls,” The New York Times, 2/14/14)

  • In States With Large Hispanic Populations Such As California, Arizona, And Texas, Latino Enrollments Have Been Underwhelming. “Enrollment problems are playing out in other states with large Hispanic populations as well, including Arizona and Texas, counselors who work with immigrants said. But California stands out as the most troubling case, proponents of the law say, because it has the most Latinos of any state and has worked hard to enroll them.” (Jennifer Medina and Abby Goodnough, “States Struggle To Add Latinos To Health Rolls,” The New York Times, 2/14/14)

The Bungled Rollout Of ObamaCare’s Spanish Website And The Lack Of Spanish Applications Contributed To Low Latino Enrollment. “Many critics blame language for the slow start among Latinos —Covered California did not offer applications in Spanish until the end of December, and the Spanish-language website was littered with translation errors for weeks after its start. Others say there are not enough counselors to provide the kind of personal attention needed by many people who have never had health insurance.” (Jennifer Medina and Abby Goodnough, “States Struggle To Add Latinos To Health Rolls,” The New York Times, 2/14/14)

For Latino’s That Shopped For Coverage On The Exchange, The Premiums Were Too High To Enroll According To The President Of Yuma, Arizona’s Regional Center For Border Health. “Amanda Aguirre, the president of the Regional Center for Border Health in Yuma, Ariz., said many Latinos there felt the private plans available through the exchange were too expensive, even if they qualified for federal subsidies. ‘They still feel it’s a very high premium, like it’s another car payment or another mortgage payment, and they will not accept it,’ Ms. Aguirre said. ‘They go uncovered.’” (Jennifer Medina and Abby Goodnough, “States Struggle To Add Latinos To Health Rolls,” The New York Times, 2/14/14)

FLASHBACK: The Obama Administration Is Counting On Latinos Being “Key To The Success” Of ObamaCare And “The Administration Is Doing Everything It Can To Make Sure That Latinos [Enroll].” “Just as Latinos were crucial to President Barack Obama’s re-election success in 2012, they are now key to the success of his health law. And the administration is doing everything it can to make sure that Latinos, like the Velandias, enroll. The administration announced this week that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be making the rounds on Spanish-language media outlets to discuss the health law and unveiled the newly revamped, the Spanish version of” (Jenny Gold, “Latino Enrollment Key To Success Of Health Law Marketplaces,” Kaiser Health News, 6/25/13)

  • The Administration’s Plan To Sign Up 7 Million Americans Online, “Hinges On Latinos Signing Up For Coverage — Especially The Young And Healthy, According To Senior Administration Officials.” “In remarks to the news media, slated to be given in San Jose, the president will lay out his strategy for enrolling at least 7 million Americans in the new online health insurance marketplaces in 2014. That plan hinges on Latinos signing up for coverage — especially the young and healthy, according to senior administration officials.” (Jenny Gold, “Latinos Key To Obama’s Health Law Strategy,” Kaiser Health News, 6/7/13)
  • In June, President Obama Delivered Remarks Directed At The Latino Community On The Importance They Played In Signing Up For ObamaCare. OBAMA: “The 13 insurance companies that were chosen by Covered California have unveiled premiums that were lower than anybody expected.  And those who can’t afford to buy private insurance will get help reducing their out-of-pocket premiums even further with the largest health care tax cut for working families and small businesses in our history.  So about 2.6 million Californians — nearly half of whom are Latinos — will qualify for tax credits that will, in some cases, lower their premiums a significant amount. Now, none of this is a surprise.  This is the way that the law was designed to work.  But since everybody has been saying how it’s not going to happen, I think it’s important for us to recognize and acknowledge this is working the way it’s supposed to.  We’ve seen similar good news, by the way, not just here in California but in Oregon and Washington.  In states that are working hard to implement this law properly, we’re seeing it work for people — for middle-class families, for consumers.” (President Obama, Statement, San Jose, CA, 6/7/13)