Obamacare: Growing Problems, Shrinking Choices

‘Nation's Largest Health Insurer’ Exits Obamacare Exchanges; Law Continues To Leave Consumers With Fewer Choices & Likely Premium Increases


PRESIDENT OBAMA: “My guiding principle is, and always has been, that consumers do better when there's choice and competition. ... And without competition, the price of insurance goes up and quality goes down. ... [W]e will provide you with a choice.” (President Obama, Remarks To Joint Session Of Congress, 9/9/09)

‘Nation's Largest Health Insurer’ ‘To Exit Obamacare Exchanges’

“UnitedHealth Group, the nation's largest health insurer, said that in 2017 it will exit most of the 34 states where it offers plans on the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges in an earnings call. ‘We will be down to a handful of states that we will be actively participating in the exchanges,’ said Stephen J. Hemsley, chief executive officer of UnitedHealth Group…”(“UnitedHealth Group To Exit Obamacare Exchanges In All But A ‘Handful’ Of States,” The Washington Post, 4/19/2006)

“CEO Stephen Hemsley said Tuesday that the company expects losses from its exchange business to total more than $1 billion for this year and last. He added that the company cannot continue to broadly serve the market created by the Affordable Care Act's coverage expansion due partly to the higher risk that comes with its customers.” (“UnitedHealth To Trim ACA Exchanges To 'Handful' Of States,” The Associated Press, 4/19/2016)

Exit ‘Could Leave As Many As 1.1 Million People With Just One Health Plan Option,’

‘Premiums For Exchange Plans Could Rise’

“The impact will be hardest felt in the South and the Midwest, where there are already few options in the exchanges for consumers to choose from, and it could leave as many as 1.1 million people with just one health plan option, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation.” (“UnitedHealth's Obamacare Retreat,” The Atlantic, 4/19/2016)

  • “If the company withdraws from markets across the country (and isn't replaced by rivals), premiums for exchange plans could rise ... according to a county-by-county analysis released ... by the Kaiser Family Foundation Monday.” (NPR, 4/18/2016)
  • “The study shows premiums rising more than $100 a month in 13 counties where there is little competition. And more than half of U.S. counties would have only two insurance companies offering plans on the exchanges, the analysis found.” (NPR, 4/18/2016)


Other Insurers Also Sounding Alarms

“UnitedHealth is not alone in warning that the financial losses in the ObamaCare marketplaces are reaching dangerous levels. Other insurers ... including some Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, have also raised the prospect of pulling back some of their ObamaCare plans.” (“UnitedHealth Pulling Out Of Most Obamacare Markets,” The Hill, 4/19/2016)

“There have been some rumblings of discontent from Blue Cross plans. The plan in New Mexico already dropped off the marketplace there last year after it lost money and state regulators rejected a proposed 51.6 percent premium increase. Now, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina says that it might drop out of the marketplace because of its losses. Blue Cross of North Carolina CEO Brad Wilson said in an interview that the company had lost $400 million due to its ObamaCare business.” (“Insurers Warn Losses From Obamacare Are Unsustainable,” The Hill, 4/15/2016)

  • “The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association released a widely publicized report last month that said new enrollees under ObamaCare had 22 percent higher medical costs than people who received coverage from employers. And a report from McKinsey & Company found that in the individual market, which includes the ObamaCare marketplaces, insurers lost money in 41 states in 2014, and were only profitable in 9 states.” (“Insurers Warn Losses From Obamacare Are Unsustainable,” The Hill, 4/15/2016)

AETNA CEO MARK BERTOLINI: “We continue to have serious concerns about the sustainability of the public exchanges. ... We remain concerned about the overall stability of the risk pool.” (“Aetna CEO Has `Serious Concerns' About Obamacare Sustainability,” Bloomberg Business, 2/01/2016)


HEALTH EXPERT: ‘Either Insurers Will Drop Out Or Insurers Will Raise Premiums’

“Insurers say they are losing money on their ObamaCare plans at a rapid rate, and some have begun to talk about dropping out of the marketplaces altogether. ‘Something has to give,’ said Larry Levitt, an expert on the health law at the Kaiser Family Foundation. ‘Either insurers will drop out or insurers will raise premiums.’” (“Insurers Warn Losses From Obamacare Are Unsustainable,” The Hill, 4/15/2016)

“The clearest remedy for the losses is for insurers to raise premiums, perhaps by large amounts — something Republicans have long warned would happen under the healthcare law, known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). ‘The industry is clearly setting the stage for bigger premium increases in 2017,’ said Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation.” (“Insurers Warn Losses From Obamacare Are Unsustainable,” The Hill, 4/15/2016)



Related Issues: Obamacare, Health Care