By Barnini Chakraborty – August 10, 2016
Six years after ObamaCare was signed into law – and countless assurances later that the law is “working” – America’s major insurance companies are facing mounting losses and threatening to pull out of the exchanges, leaving customers facing higher costs and fewer options.
In the most recent example, Tennessee regulators are bowing to pressure to let insurers refile their 2017 rate requests, which could lead to steep hikes for customers. A state official acknowledged to The Tennessean they are “not alone” in letting companies seek bigger increases — as some insurers head for the exits.
Earlier this month, Aetna, once one of ObamaCare’s biggest cheerleaders, slammed the breaks on its expansion plans and became the last of the five major national health insurers to project significant losses tied to the Affordable Care Act.
CEO Mark Bertolini blamed “structural challenges” associated with the health care overhaul and said Aetna intends to withdraw all its “2017 public exchange expansion plans” and undergo “a complete evaluation of future participation in our current 15-state footprint.”
When the health insurance exchanges were first rolled out, the Obama administration strongly pushed a win-win narrative – marketplaces would thrive and Americans who had been unable to afford medical coverage in the past would finally be able to do so.
By January 2016, more than 11.3 million Americans had signed up for ObamaCare. By March, that number had jumped to 20.3 million.
While clear evidence that the law was expanding coverage, the soaring enrollment numbers have created a fiscal nightmare for insurers which, in turn, has serious consequences for customers.
A majority of new enrollees are considered high risk, meaning insurers will have to spend more money on people in poor health and requiring expensive care.
One by one, the nation’s top insurers – Humana, UnitedHealth Group, Blue Cross and Anthem – have shifted their tone on the law.