Charles Gaba's blog

A few weeks ago, I posted a lengthy, in-the-weeds explainer about how the ACA's Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) provision works. The short version is that ever since the ACA went into effect in 2011 (3 years before newly-sold policies had to be ACA compliant), to help reduce price gouging, insurance carriers have been required to spend a minimum of 80% of their premium revenue (85% for the large group market) on actual medical claims.

Put another way, their gross margins are limited to no more than 20% (or 15% in the large group market). Remember, that's their gross margin, not net; all operational expenses must come out of that 20% (15%). The idea is that they should be spending as much of your premium dollars as possible on actual healthcare, as opposed to junkets to Tahiti or marble staircases in the corporate offices, etc. Anything over that 20% (15%) gross margin has to be rebated to the policyholder.

via Crystal Thomas of the Kansas City Star:

Groups hoping to make Missouri the 37th state to expand Medicaid officially launched a campaign Wednesday to put the question on 2020 ballot.

In Missouri, the state-run Medicaid program, MO HealthNet, provides health insurance only to children, pregnant women, those with disabilities and some seniors.

Expansion could mean coverage for an additional 200,000 Missourians under the proposal, according to Healthcare for Missouri, the campaign committee leading expansion efforts.

The committee was formed in March and spent the summer exploring whether expansion was possible in Missouri through initiative petition. On Wednesday, it announced it would commit to putting the question in front of voters in 2020.

...the campaign includes supporters like the Missouri Hospital Association, the Missouri Primary Care Association and a similarly named permanent advocacy group, Missouri Health Care for All.

Way back in October 2013, the very first official ACA Open Enrollment Period began...and was an immediate disaster for not just the federal exchange website (HealthCare.Gov), but also for about half of the states which were operating their own whole-widget ACA exchange websites.

That first year, there were 15 states doing so: California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia (not actually a state, I know), Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington State. There were oddball problems at launch with most of them, but HI, MD, MA, MN, NV, OR and VT had serious issues.

A few weeks ago, I posted a lengthy, in-the-weeds explainer about how the ACA's Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) provision works. The short version is that ever since the ACA went into effect in 2011 (3 years before newly-sold policies had to be ACA compliant), to help reduce price gouging, insurance carriers have been required to spend a minimum of 80% of their premium revenue (85% for the large group market) on actual medical claims.

Put another way, their gross margins are limited to no more than 20% (or 15% in the large group market). Remember, that's their gross margin, not net; all operational expenses must come out of that 20% (15%). The idea is that they should be spending as much of your premium dollars as possible on actual healthcare, as opposed to junkets to Tahiti or marble staircases in the corporate offices, etc. Anything over that 20% (15%) gross margin has to be rebated to the policyholder.

A few weeks ago, I posted a lengthy, in-the-weeds explainer about how the ACA's Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) provision works. The short version is that ever since the ACA went into effect in 2011 (3 years before newly-sold policies had to be ACA compliant), to help reduce price gouging, insurance carriers have been required to spend a minimum of 80% of their premium revenue (85% for the large group market) on actual medical claims.

Put another way, their gross margins are limited to no more than 20% (or 15% in the large group market). Remember, that's their gross margin, not net; all operational expenses must come out of that 20% (15%). The idea is that they should be spending as much of your premium dollars as possible on actual healthcare, as opposed to junkets to Tahiti or marble staircases in the corporate offices, etc. Anything over that 20% (15%) gross margin has to be rebated to the policyholder.

The Kentucky Insurance Dept. just announced their approved rate changes for unsubsidized ACA-compliant individual and small group market enrollees. They only shaved a little bit off of the proposed rates from late June, but every bit helps:

DOI Completes Review of Individual and Small-Group Health Insurance Rate Filings

The Kentucky Department of Insurance (DOI) announced today that it has completed its review of the individual and small-group insurance rates filed in the Kentucky market.  The rates will be used to calculate insurance premiums for the 2020 benefit year. 

Some Guy, June 25, 2015 (right after the Supreme Court ruling in King vs. Burwell):

It's even conceivable--unlikely, but conceivable--that a few years from now, after 1) The ACA has become even more firmly entrenched nationally; 2) the software/technology for running a state exchange has become even more streamlined, simplified, faster, easier to use, cheaper, etc etc; and 3) (hopefully) some changed attitudes/changed administration officials (ahem), a few states on HC.gov now may even decide to go ahead and move onto their own "full" exchange/website after all...completely of their own volition.

February 2018:

Nevada wants out of federal health exchange

Nevada's Silver State Health Insurance Exchange took the first step on Thursday to getting out of the federal healthcare.gov system and build its own exchange.

No more posts this week; back on Sunday.

I'm sure nothing of any significance whatsoever will happen in healthcare news over the next 3 days, right?

I noted last month that Rhode Island was the latest state to put in for an ACA Section 1332 reinsurance program waiver:

Governor Raimondo’s proposed FY 2020 budget called for the creation of the Health Insurance Market Integrity Fund, which would make available reinsurance payments to health plans to reduce the burden of high cost claims on individual market premiums. According to insurer filings, the enactment of the Health Insurance Market Integrity Fund would reduce the individual market premium requests from 6.6% to -0.4% for BCBSRI and from 5.4% to 1.7% for NHPRI. These insurers’ pricing assumptions are subject to review and verification by OHIC. Table 1 shows the requested individual market rate increases with and without reinsurance.

I've written many times before about how polling on the issue of "Medicare for All" has consistently proven that many Americans are confused about what the phrase actually means.

While a majority of the country keeps saying they want "Medicare for All", poll after poll has shown that a huge chunk of those who say so think it means "Medicare for All Who Want It"...that is, they think it refers to a Public Option, where it's up to them whether their major medical coverage would be public or private. This is true even among Democrats, who obviously support the concept in higher numbers than Republicans or Independents.

Yesterday a new poll came out from Monmouth University which mostly just confirms this point...

*OK, technically he didn't, but...well, read on.

About five weeks ago, around the 3rd week of July, regular readers may have noticed that my output both here as well as on Twitter dropped off considerably for a week or so (much to the relief of some, I'm sure).

I made a vague reference or two to "dealing with a personal crisis" while also reassuring folks that it wasn't anything tragic (no one died, got terribly sick, divorced, etc), but didn't get into any details.

For reasons which will soon become clear, my wife was not thrilled about the idea of my sharing our little saga with the world...at least not until we were 100% certain it had been resolved.

More specifically, while she agreed that there was a legitimate healthcare angle to justify posting something about it on my site, she wanted me to wait at least five weeks before going public...namely, yesterday.

As it happens, yesterday also just happened to be the exact date that the Twitterverse exploded with two major stories related to...bed bugs.

Back in June I noted that Maine's Bureau of Professional & Financial Regulation released their preliminary 2020 rate filings for the Individual and Small Group markets. At the time, the three carriers on their Indy market were requesting average rate increases of around 4.7% next year.

In July I reported that the carriers themselves sliced their unsubsidized 2020 rates down of their own volition, to a 1.6% decrease on average.

Last week, after a public comment meeting, it looks like the Maine Insurance Dept. went ahead and approved the lower, revised rates for all three individual market carriers.

Last month I posted the average requested unsubsidized premium rate changes for the 2020 Individual Market in Ohio. At the time, the state was looking at a weighted average reduction of 7.0% from 2019 rates.

Since then, the Ohio Dept. of Insurance has reviewed and approved the rates for 2020, and while they don't provide much detail on individual carriers, overall it looks like they reduced rates slightly more (average reduction of 7.7%). The wording below is almost identical to what it was last month, except for the highlighted text:

Last month I reported on Tennessee's preliminary 2020 premium rate filings. At the time, the weighted average rate change for ACA Individual Market policies was a 1.1% reduction over this year.

Today, the Tennessee Insurance Dept. officially approved the rate changes exactly as is, without making any changes one way or the other:

TDCI Approves Carriers’ 2020 Rates on the Federally Facilitated Marketplace
More Choices, Rate Decrease Highlight Rating Filing Season

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) announces the approval of insurance rates requested by the five carriers offering coverage on the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) in 2020.

Last week, a blog post over at the Georgetown Center on Health Insurance Reforms called my attention to a seemingly bizarre change of stance by the Trump Justice Department as to what the final ruling should be in the idiotic #TexasFoldEm anti-ACA lawsuit being brought by 20 (now 18) Republican state attorneys general:

Now, DOJ is changing its position again. In supplemental briefings to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, DOJ states that any invalidation of the ACA should “not extend beyond the plaintiff states….” As a remedy, DOJ argues that the court should invalidate the ACA only in the states that brought suit. In effect, if the court were to follow DOJ’s scheme it would mean striking down the ACA in the eighteen plaintiff states, but allowing it to remain intact in the thirty-two other states.

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