Monday, May 9, 2016

Delayed Obamacare Schadenfreude Gratification

It's been a while, and the build up has been slow but steady. Time to relieve the pressure again.

One bit of recent Obamacare Schadenfreude has concerned the exit of United Healthcare from most Obamacare market places. In today's paper, the Washington Post called this a good thing. Now, another giant in the field, Humana is considering exiting some Obamacare exchanges, raising prices.
Here is the key paragraph from Humana’s press release:
Humana is in the process of finalizing plans for its ACA-compliant individual commercial medical market offerings in 2017. Humana anticipates proposing a number of changes to retain a viable product for individual consumers, where feasible, and address persistent risk selection challenges. Such changes may include certain statewide market and product exits both on and off exchange, service area reductions and pricing commensurate with anticipated levels of risk by state.
Humana is currently being bought out by Aetna. Last month Aetna’s CEO sent some mixed messages on the future of Obamacare. On the positive side he called it a “good investment.” On the other hand, he also said, “We need younger people to join, we need more of the uninsured to join, we need a different set of products, more rating flexibility, a broader range of rates for people to buy from and more markets that we have strong lower-cost control in so that we can offer those products on an affordable basis.” That’s a long list of changes and, importantly, Aetna’s CEO admits these are “legislative changes.”
But the trend is look like less choices, and less flexibility:  Bronze plans to disappear from ObamaCare exchanges?
The trade journal Inside Health Policy warns that insurers might drop plans that qualify for the lowest cost tier in the ObamaCare exchanges and instead focus on the silver level, thanks to an effort by CMS to shore up the financial models of larger insurers. When that happens, Leslie Small writes at Fierce Health Payer, expect an exodus of low-risk consumers who may be unmotivated to pay for an expensive plan they neither need nor will use.
Even if they don’t bail out of the bronze level, the premiums will skyrocket … again. Insurers in Oregon and Virginia are warning of double-digit premium increases, and the low-cost alternative in New Hampshire wants in on that action too:
Providence Health, which saw enrollment nearly quadruple in 2016 to 100,900, grabbing 40% of the market, blamed the increase partly on next year’s phase-out of ObamaCare’s temporary reinsurance program, which covers some of the bills of the costliest patients. …
Overall, Oregon insurers are seeking an average 27% premium hike, as calculated by ObamaCare enrollment tracker, weighted based on 2016 enrollment.
Oregon is just the second state to make public initial rate requests filed by all insurers for 2017. Participants in Virginia’s market are seeking an average 17.9% hike, including a 15.8% increase requested by Anthem (ANTM) for its 180,000 members in ObamaCare-compliant plans.
In New Hampshire, Minuteman Health, the lowest-cost and second-largest exchange participant, has requested a 45.2% premium hike.
Oregon’s largest individual market insurer has filed for an average 29.6% rate hike for 2017 policies sold on and off the ObamaCare exchange.
Obamacare's November surprise.  Many consumers will see large rate increases for the first time Nov. 1 — a week before they go to the polls. Higher prices again? If only they'd been warned. I'll bet they try to find some way to move that deadline beyond the election.

Study Finds Employers Are Hiring More Freelancers To Avoid Obamacare
The uptick was largely attributed to the mandate’s tax penalty, which increased to its largest number in 2016 at $695 per employee. According to the study, on average, freelancers work less than 40 hours a week, are willing to work for less money and have contacts that generally last between one and five months.

“The trend of companies hiring more freelancers will continue annually, causing for an even more blended workforce, and creating new challenges for business leaders,” Dan Schawbel, a Partner & Research Director at Future Workplace, said in a statement provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The workforce is willing to make sacrifices, including compensation and benefits, in order to gain the freedom and flexibility afforded to the freelance career path.”

Despite health-care plans being a major factor in helping draw skilled workers, a large number of companies said they are open to changing their business model in order to avoid the crippling costs.
Support for Obamacare continues to sag:

As Obamacare Collapses, Prepare for Single Payer To be fair, Obamacare was always designed to fail and prepare the public for single payer.

Conservatives Can’t Let Obamacare’s Collapse go to Waste:
The left will crow that Obamacare created a fair environment for people to access insurance, and that the free market failed once again. As an alternative, they will almost certainly offer up what they wanted all along in 2010 – a government insurance “public option” plan to “compete” with the struggling private insurance market. It’s the fast road to a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system, and if conservatives aren’t ready, it’ll sound like the only reasonable option.

Of course, Obamacare’s decline also creates an opportunity to make the conservative case: that quality health care is more than an insurance plan, and that a one-size-fits-all government health care plan can only guarantee inadequate care for all. Advocates of this system must make the case for getting middlemen out from between you and your doctors, and for encouraging medical providers to compete to offer you affordable care.

Conservatives had better be prepared make this case loudly and well. Given the likely nomination of “HillaryCare” Clinton on the presidential ticket for the Democrats, the danger of failing could not be clearer.
But in fairness, GOP tried to repeal Obamacare multiple times, and it was vetoed without fanfare. The Congressional GOP and the Obamacare repeal: failing to get the word out. The message must stay undisturbed.
So in summary, why did the news not get out to the public? It seems to have been a combination of the MSM, relatively low-key nice-guy salesmanship on the part of GOP leadership, goalpost moving, and talk shows on the right trying to drum up anger that’s good for business—as well as the frustration of having been bested by the Obama administration and people like Harry Reid, who held very important keys to power even after the GOP had finally won control of Congress. Control of Congress is, however, a relative term, and it can’t accomplish everything.
Chief Justice Roberts was principled but wrong in his Obamacare decision

Obamacare disaster will be Obama’s enduring domestic legacy
With Obamacare, Obama wanted to restore America’s faith in big government. Instead, the opposite has happened. Today, 69 percent of Americans say big government is “the biggest threat to the country in the future” (ahead of big business or big labor). That figure, which is slightly down from 72 percent in 2013, is higher under Obama than it has been since Gallup began asking the question about 50 years ago. Obamacare has done more to discredit big government than 1,000 Reagan speeches ever did.
Feds to Pay California to Finance FREE MediCaid Health Care for Illegal Aliens. Gotta nurture those future democratic voters.

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