The Invisible Hand of the Free Market slaps "ACA is Socialized Medicine!" claims upside the head (UPDATE)

Hat Tip To: 
deaconblues, Brian W., Steve C., Dee

Don't let the snarky headline fool you; I'm still very much a single-payer guy. However, anyone who still claims that the ACA exchanges are "socialized medicine" doesn't have the slightest clue what they're talking about. In case you needed even more proof that the ACA is very much private-market friendly:

Illinois:

After sitting out the first year, UnitedHealth Group Inc. intends to offer individual policies on the Illinois health insurance exchange next year, according to sources familiar with the company's plans.

The decision by UnitedHealth, the nation's largest and the state's No. 2 insurer, has the potential to shake up the Illinois market, which was dominated in 2014 by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, the state's dominant insurer.

...United's participation also could help lower rates for consumers, a key concern among the law's supporters.

While United would neither confirm nor deny its plans to offer policies in Illinois next year, a spokesman said the Minnesota-based insurer intends to increase its participation over time in exchanges nationwide.

...In the study, released as a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper this week, researchers estimate that monthly premiums for the second-lowest-priced silver plans would have been 5.4 percent lower, on average, had United participated in the federally run marketplaces.

Indiana & Washington:

While the information we have is incomplete (it's still early), it looks like things may actually be going better than expected. WellPoint's aggressive push to get new members through the exchanges appears to be paying off for the company, and UnitedHealth Group executives seem to have taken notice, as the company is reportedly expanding its Obamacare exchange operations into at least Washington state and Indiana. And Molina's requested cheaper premiums helped drag down the requested average premium increase in Washington to the lowest level in seven years.

Maryland:

Maryland’s dominant insurance company, CareFirst, is proposing hefty premium increases of 23 to 30 percent for consumers buying individual plans next year under the federal health-care law, according to filings released Friday.

The rate proposals by CareFirst and several other carriers were posted on the Web site of the Maryland Insurance Administration and paint a mixed picture. Two other insurers, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Evergreen Health Cooperative, are proposing to lower rates for next year, by 12 percent and about 10­­ percent, respectively. And two new carriers — Cigna and United Healthcare — are offering plans for the first time in the state’s individual market, which serves about 200,000 of Maryland’s nearly 6 million residents.

New Hampshire:

Two more insurance companies say they plan to sell policies in New Hampshire’s health exchange in 2015, bringing the total to five carriers. The suddenly crowded field is a sharp contrast to this year, when only Anthem is offering policies through healthcare.gov.

Harvard Pilgrim and Minuteman Health, both based in Massachusetts, announced their intentions to join the exchange earlier this year, and now the New Hampshire Insurance Department says Assurant Health and Maine Community Health Options have also submitted plans for regulatory review.

Connecticut:

Two insurers selling health plans through Connecticut’s exchange want to raise rates by more than 10 percent next year, while a third wants to lower its premiums, according to proposals filed with the Connecticut Insurance Department.

Meanwhile, individuals who buy coverage through the exchange are likely to get a fourth option in 2015. UnitedHealthcare indicated in a filing with the insurance department that it intends to sell individual-market plans through Access Health CT, the state’s exchange.

I'll only add this to the above: Yes, the 3rd story (Maryland) leads by noting that one of the companies is proposing a rate increase of up to 30%. However, a) that spike has to be approved by regulators, and b) even if approved, it's hard to know how ugly that increase really is without knowing what CareFirst's rates were in the first place. Perhaps they lowballed for Year One, hoping to draw customers in with dirt-cheap rates and then realized that it was a bad strategy. It will be fascinating to see what impact the addition of 2 new competitors as well as the rate reductions by 2 others will have.

It should also be noted that insurance company premium rates going up is hardly a new thing; they went up an average of 10% per year prior to the ACA being signed. (Quite frankly, I'm surprised it was only 10% on average, seeing how my own families' premium rates under BCBSM doubled in the 2 years prior to the ACA being signed).

UPDATE 6/11/14: Michigan just announced that there are five additional insurance companies who will be competing for policy customers for 2015 in addition to the 13 which were already on the exchange this year, for a total of 18. More evidence that the "Obamacare = Socialism!!" rant is just as idiotic as the "Get yer Gub'mint hands off of my Medicare!" blathering by the Tea Party was back in 2010.

UPDATE 6/13/14: Add Kentucky to the list:

All five insurance companies that sold policies this year on the exchange known as Kynect want to come back for 2015, and at least one other — CareSource — wants to join them.

State officials said they are optimistic that several other insurers will file in the next few weeks to sell policies in the coming year on the exchange. Kynect is an online insurance marketplace offering health insurance plans for Kentuckians. It was created last year by Gov. Steve Beshear, as called for in the federal Affordable Care Act.

UPDATE 6/18/14: Actually, that's 2 more for Kentucky:

But now Ohio-based CareSource and Florida-based WellCare have filed paperwork with state regulators indicating their interest in selling policies through kynect. Both companies provide Medicaid plans in Kentucky but have not sold on the individual market.

UPDATE 6/27/14: Add North Carolina to the list:

Insurance giant UnitedHealthcare this week became the third health insurer to propose selling federally subsidized health insurance in North Carolina, a move that would expand choice and increase competition here.

UPDATE 7/1/14: ...as well as Georgia:

ATLANTA ‑ UnitedHealthcare, Coventry, Cigna and Time Insurance Company have each submitted plans with the state to offer insurance in the federally run health care exchange in Georgia next year.

They join the five holdovers from this year’s exchange that are also submitting rates for review: Alliant Health Plans, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, and Peach State Health Plans.