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WSJ: Insurers Brace for Enrollment Drop from Obamacare Doubts

WSJ: Insurers Brace for Enrollment Drop from Obamacare Doubts
(Dreamstime)

By    |   Wednesday, 18 October 2017 10:50 PM

Insurers are worried about a decline in applications for health coverage amid consumer doubts about the future of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which starts enrollment in two weeks.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Florida Blue and Medica are among the companies vying for customers as debates over changing the 2010 health reform law drag on among lawmakers in Washington, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“The people we’ll lose will likely be the ones who have affordability issues,” Rick Notter, an executive at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, told the newspaper. The insurer is raising rates on its ACA health maintenance organization plans by around 23% on average. It predicts the state’s ACA enrollment will drop by about 9% next year.

Insurers are using advertising, letters, emails and other outreach techniques to reassure enrollees about their insurance options next year. Other companies such as online insurance vendor eHealth Inc. see an opening to offer consumers cheaper alternatives to ACA policies. These less comprehensive plans could become more appealing if the Trump administration moves forward with loosening some restrictions on them, as the president proposed in an executive order last week.

The Trump administration also plans to halt payments that insurers use to cut health-care costs for low-income ACA enrollees. Partly because of the anticipated loss of those federal payments, expected to total $7 billion this year, major insurers are sharply raising rates in many states.

Enrollment in ACA plans by subsidized consumers rose an estimated 5.4% in the second quarter of this year compared with a year earlier, even as insurers hiked premiums, according to Oliver Wyman, a consulting unit of Marsh & McLennan . Enrollment in individual coverage by people not receiving subsidies dropped around 22.4%.

“We will likely see this accelerate in 2018,” said Kurt Giesa, a partner at Oliver Wyman.

President Donald Trump has "no understanding" of a bipartisan healthcare deal that two senators, a Republican and a Democrat, put together, said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., according to the Washington Examiner.

"Frankly, the president doesn't know what he's talking about," Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Trump said he could not support the deal because it bailed out insurance companies in a Wednesday tweet.

The deal struck by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., does not send money to insurance companies, Schumer said.

"The president ought to know what he's talking about when he tweets about bills because on this one, he had no understanding of what it's about. This helps people, millions of people," the New York senator said, according to the Examiner.

Trump does not consistently support policy items, Schumer said. "He's totally inconsistent. For it one day, against it the next day. You cannot govern a country. You cannot keep America great if you don't know what's in the bills and don't have a consistent policy about them. But he keeps zigging and zagging.

"Our only hope is maybe tomorrow he'll be for this again," he added.

The Alexander-Murray deal drew praise from Schumer. "Like all good negotiations, both sides gave some, both sides got some … that's what a good fair compromise looks like," he said.

The senator has been a frequent Trump critic. On Saturday, he said that Trump was failing to lead and throwing "destructive bones" to his base supporters.

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Insurers are worried about a decline in applications for health coverage amid consumer doubts about the future of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which starts enrollment in two weeks,Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Florida Blue and Medica are among the...
insurance, Obamacare, ACA, Donald Trump
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2017-50-18
Wednesday, 18 October 2017 10:50 PM
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