Things are looking pretty good for the ACA exchanges in states like Rhode Island, North Dakota and Massachusetts, where they're looking at single-digit rate hikes next year. However, they're looking pretty dire in states like Arizona, Montana and Oklahoma, where the average hikes are likely to be around 50% or higher for many people.
As noted a couple of weeks ago, all three of the major insurance carriers participating in Tennessee's individual market ACA exchange asked for massive rate hikes this year, ranging from 44-62%. Blue Cross Blue Shield asked for 62% in the first place; Cigna and Humana resubmitted their original requests for higher ones.
Cigna and Humana would have to revise their requests up to 50% apiece in order for the statewide average to end up hitting the 60% threshold, but that's not exactly a vote of confidence when it's already in the 56% range to begin with.
In an effort to prevent more insurers from abandoning the Obamacare exchange in Tennessee, the state's insurance regulator is allowing health insurers refile 2017 rate requests by Aug. 12 after Cigna and Humana said their previously requested premium hikes were too low.
By my count, Tennessee has a total of 6 companies offering individual policies this year (Aetna, TRH, BCBS of TN, Cigna, "Freedom Life" (hah!) and Humana. UnitedHealthcare is dropping out next year, leaving at least 37,000 people to switch to a different policy (this is based on this article in the Tennessean, which claims that United currently has 15.76% of the On-exchange individual market in Tennessee). TN had 269,000 people select exchange-based QHPs during the 2016 open enrollment period. Assuming around 13% net attrition since then, that leaves around 234,000 current enrollees on the exchange. If United holds 15.76% of those, that's around 37,000 poeple.
But yes, Clay County, TN Director of Schools Jerry Strong is indeed blaming the Affordable Care Act for his county's decision to pull the plug on the entire district in the middle of the school year:
The economy is so bad in Clay County, Tennessee that school is canceled indefinitely.
The decision to ebb budget concerns by shutting academic doors came down on Thursday when Clay County Director of Schools Jerry Strong quite literally decided to lock the doors of the county’s schools. He was particularly concerned with partially unfunded government mandates and what he believed to be the effects of Obamacare making it impossible to keep funds in the green.
By contrast, the damage from the Risk Corridor program being crippled is specific, quantifiable and obvious: Company X lost $22 million in 2014; they were supposed to receive $20 million (or whatever) back in risk corridor reimbursements; the CMS dept. only has $2.5 million to pay them back with, period, so they have to eat the remaining $17.5 million loss until next year or the year after...if they're able to stick it out that long.
The Kentucky Health CO-OP couldn't stick it out that long...and it's possible that similar press releases may be forthcoming for a few other CO-OPs (and/or other smaller insurers) over the next week or so.
As we head into the final batch of states, it looks like the national weighted average rate increases, which had been hovering in the 11-12% range up until a week or so ago, are unfortunately starting to inch upwards, slammed by 20%+ averages out of South Dakota, Montana, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Utah. Lower average rate hikes out of Connecticut and Wyoming have also been announced, but the other 5 states more than cancelled those two out.
And now you can add Tennessee to the mix. Starting with Louise Norris' exchange-only data (which comes in at a 33% average hike), I've also plugged in additional off-exchange individual market numbers to come up with what looks like an overall average rate hike of around 28.3%:
In December, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, got the deal he wanted from the Obama administration: Tennessee would accept more than $1 billion in federal funding to expand Medicaid, as allowed for in the Affordable Care Act, but Obama aides would allow Haslam to essentially write staunchly conservative ideas into the program's rules for the state. He dubbed the reformed Medicaid program "Insure Tennessee."
But the state's chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the national conservative group whose foundation is chaired by controversial billionaire David Koch, argued Haslam was just trying to trick conservatives into implementing Obamacare in their state by giving it a new name. AFP campaigned aggressively Haslam's plans for the next six weeks, even running radio ads blasting GOP state legislators who said they might vote for it.
On Wednesday, Haslam's bill died in a committee of the Tennessee state senate. The vote was one of the clearest illustrations of the increasing power of AFP and other conservative groups funded in part by the Koch brothers.
Community Health pulls plans after meeting ACA goals
Community Health Alliance has pulled its health insurance plans off the federal marketplace because it hit its enrollment goals.
Knoxville-based Community Health Alliance, a nonprofit consumer operated and oriented insurance provider, or co-op, hit its enrollment goals in the first two months of open enrollment. It stopped offering plans on the exchange Jan. 15.
In a major policy move, Gov. Bill Haslam has announced the new Insure Tennessee plan, a two-year pilot program to provide health care coverage to tens of thousands of Tennesseans who currently don't have access to health insurance or have limited options.
The plan would be leveraged with federal dollars, said Haslam, who has been working on a Medicaid expansion plan that could gain approval from both federal officials and the Republican-dominated General Assembly.
Excellent news!! I've posted exactly one (1) Tennessee-specific blog entry since I started this site a year ago, having to do with TN's possible caving on Medicaid expansion. Aside from that, I've had bupkus outside of the official monthly HHS reports during the First Open Enrollment period (OE1)...until today.
Today I learned that the number of Tennesseans currently enrolled in QHPs (as in currently in-force policies) via the federal ACA exchange stands at 125,704.
A few days ago, news broke that Pennsylvania's Governor Tom Corbett, whose re-election numbers are in the toilet and who is desperate to get Pennsylvanians to like him, has finally agreed to the Medicaid expansion provision in the Affordable Care Act.
While "doing a single decent, human thing after a couple of years of being a jerk about it" shouldn't really count as being praiseworthy, I suppose he deserves at least a small golf clap, just as Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Ohio Gov. John Kasich did.
In a move that could mean health coverage for thousands of Tennesseans, Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday that the state may soon submit a proposal to Washington to expand Tennessee's Medicaid program but did not release any new details on how it might work.
OK, as noted a little earlier, I underestimated the February HHS Report for Exchange-based Private QHP enrollment by about 4.2%:
My Projection: 902,800 (4.202 million total)
Actual Enrollments: 942,833 (4.242 million total)
I'm perfectly happy to have underestimated. As for where the extra 40,000 enrollments came from, my initial guess would be that California, in particular, started ramping up their big March blitz a bit earlier and more successfully than I figured, which, again, I'm absolutely fine with.Update: Nope, actually, California's numbers plummetted in the 2nd half of Feb due to that ugly technical outage; see below for details.
I'm busily plugging the new enrollment numbers into the spreadsheet even as I type this, and will be updating with various notes and observations, so keep checking in.
OK, I've entered the QHP data; a couple of things to note: