HealthCare Reform Version 2017: Market Stabilization
Brian and Chris attended the Capitol Conference for the health insurance industry in February. This is the annual gathering of health insurance professionals in Washington DC. Time is spent hearing from Congressional and industry leaders on significant issues and pending legislation. The Nebraska delegation had appointments with our elected officials to present our recommendations and listen to their perspective on the future of healthcare.
Change is coming. As we left DC on Feb 15th, the Trump Administration published its first significant health policy action with a proposed rule that is intended to stabilize the individual and small group private health insurance markets for 2018. s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2017-03027.pdf
In 2016, Nebraskans who purchased their own health insurance could select from 4 insurance companies – BlueCross BlueShield, Coventry /Aetna, Medica, or United Healthcare. In August, United Healthcare announced it would not offer individual coverage in 2017. In the fall, BCBS decided that it would not participate in the Health Insurance Marketplace and would offer only a Bronze HSA and a Catastrophic plan to “off-market” individuals. Coventry/Aetna announced that they were withdrawing from all but 4 states with Nebraska being one of the 4 surviving states. Only Medica remained as an insurance carrier in the individual market in 2017 with little change in benefits or network.
Insurance companies have withdrawn from the market because they have incurred substantial losses on policies sold to individuals and families since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Those companies that remained have increased premiums by an average of over 50% in Nebraska just to try to curb the losses. Without significant change, Nebraskans face the real possibility of having only one insurance company available in 2018 for individual and family health insurance plans.
This week has also seen an announcement by Humana that they will be withdrawing from the individual market and a statement by the CEO of Aetna saying that he believes Obamacare is in a “death spiral”.
Market stabilization is the first priority. No business can continue to operate without the expectation of making a profit. We must create an environment where an insurance company can successfully participate in the individual market.
Many ideas are being discussed in Washington to bring stability to the market. Adjusting the Open Enrollment and Special Enrollment Period rules; expanding eligibility for catastrophic coverage; and encouraging the use of Health Savings Accounts are frequently offered as effective tools to attract and keep more people insured and to diminish the volatility in the market.
HealthCare Reform version 2017 – here we go again!
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