Saturday, October 31, 2015

Private Insurers pad profits, start gaming Affordable Care Act Marketplaces. GOP blames Obama, not blood thirsty Insurance companies.

The Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces are just that, marketplaces set within the for profit private sector.

Republicans may criticize those marketplaces, but their own plans dump everybody into that same free marketplace, with fewer regulations.

It’s an important similarity that makes the GOP’s supposed “patient centered” ideas much worse, affecting every American with no required coverage, policy cancelations for preexisting conditions and small print exclusions that would exonerate insurers from ever paying out a dime. That doesn’t even include the Republican plan to reduce the business deduction for employer insurance coverage, which would result in fewer businesses offering benefits.

And don’t forget, Republicans forced weak kneed Democrats to remove most of the cost controls, including the public option. The public option would have been especially embarrassing for the GOP, who feared it’s overwhelming popularity would have proven them wrong about the public’s supposed distrust in government.

It’s with these caveats that make the following increase in marketplace costs not so surprising. Politico:
Premiums for some of the most popular insurance plans in the Obamacare exchanges will have double-digit rate hikes in 2016 … Analyzed by consulting firm Avalere Health, (they) found that the lowest cost “silver” plan – the most popular option in the law's insurance marketplaces – will rise 13 percent, about four times the increase for plans this past year. The steep increases are certain to rekindle criticism from Republicans that the Obamacare marketplaces aren’t working as promised. 
These weren’t “promises,” but expectations, and the rap when the ACA passed was that it didn’t reign in health care costs enough. Our fears have been realized. Here are Wisconsin's numbers:

It was also just a matter of time our free market insurers and health care providers would find a way to game the ACA system. Imagine the GOP’s deregulated plan in the free market:  
Joe Antos, a health care finance expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, argues that the double-digit increases show that insurers set rates too low during the first two years of open enrollment. “What’s basically happening is the insurance companies finally have gotten a little bit of cost experience,” Antos said. “This is getting closer to a realistic set of premiums."
A “realistic set of premiums” isn’t a factor in a single payer system, just the for profit driven model that plays fast and loose with life and death decisions.
Plans will see varying cost swings across the country -- the cheapest silver plan in Oklahoma will spike by 44 percent next year, while exchange shoppers in Indiana will an average decrease of 14 percent.

The administration announced earlier this week that premiums will rise more slowly for a key benchmark plan, which helps determine size of federal subsidies. The benchmark plan, which is the second-cheapest silver plan offered on the exchange, will increase by 7.5 percent on average in 2016.

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