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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Overall individual rates increased an average of 9.0 percent and small group rates increased an average of 10.5 percent. In the individual market, CareFirst proposed an average increase of 7.7 percent for HMO plans, and 15.6 percent for PPO plans. Kaiser proposed an average increase of 5.0 percent. For small group plans, CareFirst filed average rate increases of 13.5 percent for HMO plans and 18.5 percent for the PPO plans. Kaiser small group rates proposed an average increase of 3.0 percent. Aetna filed for an average increase of 16.1 percent for HMO plans and 5.0 percent for PPO plans. Finally, United proposed an average increase of 13.0 percent and 7.4 percent for its two HMOs and 11.2 percent for its PPO plans.
REINSURANCE LOWERS HEALTH INSURANCE RATES FOR 2020
New Program Championed by Rosendale Leads to Double-Digit Rate Decreases in the Individual Market
HELENA, Mont. – State Auditor Matt Rosendale announced today that every health insurance plan sold on the individual market in Montana will have lower rates next year, largely due a new program that he’s championed for the past two years.
A few weeks ago I posted the preliminary 2020 ACA-compliant premium changes for Florida's Individual and Small Group markets. At the time, the requested rate hikes were only available for about 4 of the 10 carriers participating in the Individual Market, and just 10 of the 14 carriers on FL's Small Group market. However, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation did provide the weighted average request: A 1.2% increase for the Indy Market and 6.4% for Small Group plans.
Today, FLOIR has released the approved rates for each, including the actual average changes for each carrier...and once again, they've whittled the rate changes down further yet on Indy plans (although they actually bumped them up a point on the Small Group market). From the press release:
OIR Announces 2020 PPACA Individual Market Health Insurance Plan Rates
Last summer, there was a hell of a bombshell dropped on the judicial system when the U.S. Dept. of Justice, under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announced that instead of defending the Affordable Care Act against the Texas vs. U.S. lawsuit (which is their job, after all), they were effectively throwing the case by not only refusing to defend the law in court, but actively agreeing with the plaintiffs that the absurd premise of their lawsuit was correct:
Sen. Bernie Sanders changes how Medicare-for-all plan treats union contracts in face of opposition by organized labor
Sen. Bernie Sanders announced a key change to his Medicare-for-all insurance plan Wednesday, a move meant to assuage fears on the part of organized labor, whose support is being heatedly sought by all of the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Back in June, the New Mexico Insurance Dept. posted the preliminary 2020 rate change filings for the ACA individual and small group markets. At the time, the vcarriers were requesting the highest average premium increase in the country for next year: An increase of 13.0%.
The main source of this double-digit hike was New Mexico Health Connections, one of just a handful of original ACA Co-Op carriers to survive. They were requesting a whopping 30% average rate hike for 2020, and with over 1/3 of the market share, this was more than enough to drag the statewide average up. A second carrier, Presbyterian, only sells off-exchange but was requesting a 16.3% increase which also pushed the average up.
Well, today the approved rate filings have been released, and there's several eyebrow-raising developments.
If you've been following me on Twitter lately, you know that I've grown increasingly frustrated with two aspects of the Democratic Presidential primary process in recent months:
First, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's seeming 180-degree turnaround from her March stance on achieving universal healthcare coverage ("a lot of different pathways") to her more recent rhetoric (a simple, point-blank "I'm with Bernie on Medicare for All.") at the first debate in late June. At the time, I assumed this was simply due to the absurdly short time constraints and the terrible framing of the question by the moderators, but it's mid-August now and so far she seems to be sticking to her guns re. being 100% onboard with BernieCare.
Second, the almost complete ghosting of the dangers to and fixes needed for the the ACA itself regardless of what the Next Big Thing ends up being (whether Medicare for All, Medicare for America, Choose Medicare, Medicare X, etc).
I wrote last month that Highmark BCBS, the sole individual market carrier operating in Delaware, has requested a 5.8% average premium reduction for 2020. In the press release from the state insurance department they noted:
It is important to note, that the proposed rate decrease is unrelated to Delaware’s intended submission of a 1332 Waiver to establish a reinsurance program. If the application process is successful, the actuarial consultant’s projections are correct, and the State of Delaware secures adequate funding, the waiver program may decrease rates by an additional 20%.