President Barack Obama leaves the White House in 12 weeks, but the law that bears his name will polarize politics long after he's gone.
Big price hikes to Affordable Care Act premiums announced this week mean that Obama's proudest legislative achievement will fail to resolve the decades-old controversy surrounding the government's role in managing the cost of and access to health care.
It will fall to the next administration whether to fix Obamacare's shortcomings -- including rising premiums and deductibles, slowing enrollment growth and the increasing number of insurers pulling out of the ACA marketplaces -- or to trash the system and start again. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump have laid out a detailed plan for how they would revise or replace the law or how they would navigate the toxic politics that surface in Washington whenever health care is on the agenda.
Continue reading at CNN....
Republicans blasted the White House on Monday after President Obama’s administration announced premiums for his signature health care law will rise sharply next year and many consumers would be down to just one insurer.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, while campaigning in Tampa, Fla., emphatically declared ObamaCare “over.”
Trump added that his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, "wants to double down and make it more expensive and it's not gonna work. ... Our country can't afford it, you can't afford it." He promised his own plan would deliver "great health care at a fraction of the cost."
Read more at Fox News....
House Speaker Paul Ryan's office predicted Thursday that President Obama would continue to have a hard time selling Obamacare to millennials, since it's too expensive and has cut down the number of available jobs for millions of young adults.
"Obamacare has been anything but a hit with millennials — the group has among the highest rates of uninsured in the country," Ryan's office said in a Thursday morning email. "This, of course, is much to the dismay of the Obama administration — that whole subsidizing thing isn't exactly working out as planned."
At the same time, officials have acknowledged that millions of people remain uninsured, including many young, healthy people who are needed to make the program viable. Officials have already been floating the the idea of a government-funded healthcare option to get them covered.
Read more at the Washington Examiner....
MetLife will no longer be using Snoopy, Charlie Brown or any other members of the Peanuts gang in its ad campaigns.
The insurance giant said Thursday it was ditching the beloved Charles Schulz characters in favor of a new image that the company claims will reflect "a clean, modern aesthetic."
So instead of a giant blimp featuring Snoopy in his World War I pilot gear, MetLife said that it will have an M in blue and green colors.
MetLife has always had blue as one of the main colors in its logo. The green apparently "represents life, renewal and energy." Uhh. Okay.
The marketing shift comes as MetLife prepares to spin off a chunk of its consumer life insurance business to shareholders as a new company called Brighthouse Financial. The "old" MetLife will focus more on group life insurance and international operations.
Read more at CNN....
Years from now many Baby Boomers will need help with the daily stuff of life, like dressing, bathing, eating or remembering to take medication.
Regular health insurance, including Medicare, doesn’t pay for help with these “custodial care” tasks, except in limited circumstances. Long-term care insurance does.
Yet faced with the coverage costs, many long-term care insurance shoppers get sticker shock and give up. Here’s how to keep the price affordable.
1. Buy sooner rather than later.
“The key to long-term care insurance is to apply early while it’s inexpensive,” says Kevin M. Lynch, assistant professor of insurance at the American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
You can buy long-term care insurance up to age 75 from most companies, but you’ll pay more at older ages and if you have health conditions.
Among 65-year-old applicants, 28% will be denied because of their health, Lynch says.
The ideal age to start shopping? “I think 50 is the magic number,” says Deb Newman, president of Newman Long Term Care, an independent insurance agency in Richfield, Minn.
Don’t give up if you’ve passed the half-century mark. Apply at least 60 days before your next birthday to get a price based on your current age, advises Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.
Continue reading at USA Today....
A growing number of people in Obamacare are finding out their health insurance plans will disappear from the program next year, forcing them to find new coverage even as options shrink and prices rise.
At least 1.4 million people in 32 states will lose the Obamacare plan they have now, according to state officials contacted by Bloomberg. That’s largely caused by Aetna Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc. and some state or regional insurers quitting the law's markets for individual coverage.
Sign-ups for Obamacare coverage begin next month. Fallout from the quitting insurers has emerged as the latest threat to the law, which is also a major focal point in the U.S. presidential election. While it’s not clear what all the consequences of the departing insurers will be, interviews with regulators and insurance customers suggest that plans will be fewer and more expensive, and may not include the same doctors and hospitals.
It may also mean that instead of growing in 2017, Obamacare could shrink. As of March 31, the law covered 11.1 million people; an Oct. 13 S&P Global Ratings report predicted that enrollment next year will range from an 8 percent decline to a 4 percent gain.
Read more at Bloomberg.com....
Minnesota’s Democratic governor said Wednesday that the Affordable Care Act is “no longer affordable,” a stinging critique from a state leader who strongly embraced the law just a few years ago.
Gov. Mark Dayton made the comments while addressing questions about Minnesota’s fragile health insurance market, where individual plans are facing double-digit increases after all insurers threatened to exit the market entirely in 2017.
They follow cost concerns and criticism nationwide, including President Bill Clinton saying last week that the law was “the craziest thing in the world” before he backtracked.
“The reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for increasing numbers of people,” Dayton said, calling on Congress to fix the law to address rising costs and market stability.
Continue reading at CBS Minnesota....
California’s health care exchange is requesting that it be allowed a waiver from ObamaCare regulations in order to allow illegal immigrants to buy insurance on the exchange – which would make California the first state to extend ObamaCare to illegal immigrants.
In a Sept. 30 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Covered California’s Executive Director Peter Lee said that the Affordable Care Act has been “tremendously successful” in the state and has cut the rate of uninsured in half.
“While millions of Californians have benefitted from coverage purchased through the Covered California marketplace, certain individuals are prohibited from buying insurance through our state marketplace due to their immigration status,” Lee wrote, before requesting the waiver.
The Affordable Care Act technically bars illegal immigrants from insurance exchanges, but in June Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that allowed the state to apply for a federal waiver to open Covered California to illegal immigrants living in California. The bill’s sponsor said such a waiver would allow 390,000 illegal immigrants to receive health insurance.
Read more at Fox News....
"So you've got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It's the craziest thing in the world." --- Bill Clinton, Oct 3 2016
This Obamacare experiment is a flop.
Harken Health — billed as an "innovative" health insurer and started by America's biggest insurance company to appeal to Obamacare customers — will exit the only two government-run exchange markets where it was selling coverage after reportedly booking losses of about $70 million in the first half of this year.
The UnitedHealth Group unit — which offers unlimited primary care visits at no out-of-pocket cost to customers who use Harken Health clinics — continue selling plans outside of Obamacare exchanges in the individual and employer markets of both Chicago and Atlanta next year.
But its departure in 2017 from the Obamacare exchanges that serve those cities represents another setback for advocates of the Affordable Care Act and their efforts to offer individual health plan customers a broad range of affordable coverage options.
Harken in August said it was abandoning plans to sell Obamacare exchange coverage in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, next year.
And Harken's parent, UnitedHealth, earlier this year said it would itself exit most Obamacare exchanges, including the federal marketplace that services Illinois, in 2017.
Read more at CNBC.
Minnesota Department of Commerce announces individual and small group health insurance rates for 2017
Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman today released the 2017 insurance company rates for individual and small group health plans – saying that rate increases in the individual market are unsustainable but that tax credits available through MNsure will help many Minnesotans.
About five percent of Minnesotans (approximately 250,000) currently get their coverage from individual policies, while another five percent get coverage from small group policies, which are for employers with fewer than 50 workers.
For the seven insurers in the individual market, the 2017 rate increases range from 50 percent to 67 percent. For the 10 insurers in the small group market, the 2017 rate changes range from a one percent decrease to an 18 percent increase....
The individual market rates apply only to health insurance plans that Minnesotans purchase for themselves and their families through MNsure, insurance agents or the insurance companies directly. The rates do not affect most Minnesotans, who are covered by employer-based insurance or public programs like Medicare, Medicaid and MinnesotaCare.
Rothman encouraged consumers to contact MNsure to see if they are eligible for federal tax credits that automatically reduce monthly premiums. The tax credits are available only for individual policies purchased through MNsure for people with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. The upper income threshold for tax credit eligibility in 2017 is $47,520 for an individual and $97,200 for a family of four.
The Commerce Department does not set health insurance rates. Instead, it reviews each company’s rate proposals to make sure they comply with state and federal laws based on the benefits that consumers receive and the company’s ability to collect adequate premium revenue to pay for consumers’ medical claims. Insurers must provide coverage for a comprehensive set of essential health benefits, and they are no longer allowed to deny coverage or charge higher premiums to consumers based on preexisting health conditions.
Continue reading this news release at the Minnesota Department of Commerce's website.
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