Healthcare Execs: Obamacare Year 2 May Be Even Worse

Wednesday, 03 Sep 2014 06:31 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Insurers are bracing for the second year of Obamacare, anticipating turmoil in the markets as new carriers join the competition and the cost of some plans rises for current enrollees, The New York Times reported.

The renewal and new enrollment process begins on Nov. 15. Procedures have not yet been set and the system remains untested, the Times reported. Renewal notices are slated to go out from mid-October to Nov. 1, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Industry managers are preparing for the open enrollment period with apprehension. "The exchange can't work worse than it did last year," said Peter Beilenson of Maryland's Evergreen Health Co-op. Kevin Counihan, the federal government's new insurance marketplaces chief, said: "Part of me thinks that this year is going to make last year look like the good old days," the New York Times reported.

Authorities are looking for five million new enrollees to sign up and for eight million existing policy holders to renew for the coming year. People will have three months, instead of six months, to find a policy, the Times reported.

Some of the bigger firms will be asking for double-digit premium hikes while smaller companies, looking to drum up business, will be lowering charges for 2015.

Insurers are expecting volatility in pricing so consumers are being advised to see if better deals are available. Premiums can be affected by changes in income and eligibility for federal tax subsidies, experts say, according to the New York Times. Guidelines on how much of a subsidy a person may be eligible for in 2015 may not be known until later in the year, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Andrew Slavitt, the Medicare administrator who oversees the insurance marketplaces, sounded an optimistic note.

"We're putting in place the simplest path for consumers this year to renew their coverage." People who want to renew don't have to do anything – their coverage will automatically rollover. "We're in a very different position than we were last year," he said.

"In some respects," enrollment for 2015 is "going to be more complicated," said Counihan, according to the New York Times.

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