It's Working: Aetna Backing Away From Obamacare, Higher Premiums Announced

Guy Benson
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Posted: Aug 03, 2016 8:10 PM
It's Working: Aetna Backing Away From Obamacare, Higher Premiums Announced

Since Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Democrats spent four days last week pretending that Obamacare is working (American consumers consistently disagree, as the law is hurting far more people than it's helping) now seems like a good time to share a few updates about the unpopular law's grand "success." Remember when we were told that United Health pulling out of almost all state-based Obamacare exchanges was no big deal and definitely not the start of a wider trend? Since then, Blue Cross/Blue Shield has also started to backpedal from participation in the Democrat-created markets, which are slamming providers with major financial losses. And now we have this news, via John Sexton:

Aetna (AET) said Tuesday it is canceling plans to expand into more states next year and will reassess its involvement in the 15 states where it currently offers coverage on the individual exchanges. It expects to lose $300 million (pre-tax) on its Obamacare business this year...The performance of Aetna’s Obamacare business is deteriorating as policyholders seek more care than expected, the company said. Pharmacy costs are a particular problem. Aetna had 838,000 exchange customers at the end of June.

If their competitors' market-based actions are any indication, Aetna's "reassessment" will result in yet another Obamacare-caused constriction of customers' choices. Enrollees (whose numbers are far lower than the government had projected, and relatively few of whom are truly newly insured) are using too much healthcare, while relatively healthy and young potential customers are declining to purchase coverage. Why? Overwhelmingly, because it's just too expensive. And they know that if they get sick, insurers will be required to cover them under the law's regulations. It's an industry-straining moral hazard. The GOP's replacement plan would deal with both this challenge and the pre-existing conditions problem in a more sensible and sustainable way. Meanwhile, the "Affordable" Care Act continues to get less affordable across the country.  Illinois:

Insurers want to crank up the cost of health insurance premiums by as much as 45 percent for Illinois residents who buy coverage through the Affordable Care Act's marketplace. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, the most popular insurer on the state's Obamacare exchange, is proposing increases ranging from 23 percent to 45 percent in premiums for its individual health-care plans, according to proposed 2017 premiums that were made public Monday. The insurer blamed the sought-after hikes mainly on changes in the costs of medical services.

Michigan:

Health plans sold on Michigan's insurance exchange could see an average 17.3% increase next year, and if recent history is any guide, state regulators could approve the insurance companies' rate hike requests without many — if any — changes. The rate increases would mean a financial hit for taxpayers in general and the 345,000 Michiganders who buy their health insurance on the Healthcare.gov exchange, created under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

New Jersey:

New Jersey health insurers are seeking rate hikes in 2017 for the Obamacare market, but consumers will be spared the huge increases that their counterparts in other states are facing, according to a review of filings made public this week. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, for example, is asking state regulators for a relatively modest 4.8 percent increase in premiums for Omnia, the most widely held plan for individuals buying insurance through the health exchange. "I think if you can keep it below 10 percent, that's great," said Toby Stark, president of the New Jersey Association of Health Underwriters, a trade group representing health insurance brokers.

The Garden State is a relative "success" story, with rates only spiking in the single digits. Democrats promised that Obamacare would lower costs for all consumers, with President Obama famously campaigning on a plan that would save the average family $2,500 per year. Instead, rates have risen sharply across the country, and will continue to do so in 2017 -- with out-of-pocket expenses surging even higher, rendering "coverage" useless for many consumers. Obamacare Godmother Hillary Clinton looks at all of this and gives it a thumbs-up, offering only platitudes and failed "fixes" that would strip millions more Americans of their existing coverage, and hasten the demise of America's innovative and functioning private market with which the vast majority of consumers were satisfied before Obamacare was jammed through Congress on a party-line vote.