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Obama Administration Attempts To Quell Concerns About Premium Hikes For ACA Plans.
The Wall Street Journal (8/24, Radnofsky, Armour, Subscription Publication) reports the Obama Administration is rushing to convince consumers who purchase healthcare coverage through Affordable Care Act marketplaces that Federal subsidies will allow them to absorb premium increases requested by insurers. On Wednesday, HHS said in a new analysis that ACA subsidies for lower- and middle-income consumers would largely offset double-digit premium hikes for 2017, and that some 75 percent of those who purchase plans through Healthcare.gov will be paying monthly premiums of $75 or less. According to Kathryn Martin, acting assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at HHS, “Headline rate increases do not reflect what consumers actually pay.”
Bloomberg News (8/24, Tracer) reports that Martin added, “Even in a scenario where all plans saw double-digit rate increases, the vast majority of consumers would continue to have affordable options.” The article says the findings of this analysis were released in the wake of recent requests for premium increases which have been as high as 62 percent.
The Houston Chronicle (8/24, Deam) reports Martin “emphasized that tax credits go up along with premiums and said the majority of consumers on the exchange will qualify for assistance.”
Kate Gibson writes in the CBS News (8/24) “MoneyWatch” that HHS said if all rates rose by “25 percent, nearly three-quarters of people who use the exchanges would still be able to purchase coverage for less than $75 a month.” The piece adds that last year, in spite of expectations of “double-digit rate increases for ACA plans, the average premium rose only $4 a month for Obamacare participants with tax credits.”
On its website, CNBC (8/24, Mangan) reports that the study “reflects the fact that some 85 percent of Obamacare customers who buy plans on government-run marketplaces receive federal subsidies, or tax credits, that reduce the amount they end up actually paying for their monthly premiums,” putting their monthly payments “below the retail prices.” Caroline Pearson, senior vice president for policy and strategy at the Avalere Health consultancy, said people who receive subsidies are essentially insulated against premium hikes, but those who do not qualify for subsidies “are going to feel the full effect.”
The Palm Beach (FL) Post (8/24) reports that according to HHS, some 80 percent of Floridians would “still pay $75 or less per month even if rates go up 25 percent,” thanks to ACA subsidies, which increase along with premiums. The South Florida Business Journal (8/24, Lincoff, Subscription Publication) also covers the story.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (8/24, Liss) reports that according to HHS, about “77 percent of Missouri exchange consumers can still purchase a plan for less than $75 per month.”
The Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger (8/24, O'Brien) reports data show ACA “subsidies should offset the rising cost of Obamacare premiums and allow more than half of New Jerseyans buying insurance through the federal website to pay no more than $75 a month.”
The Raleigh (NC) News & Observer (8/24, Murawski) reports HHS data indicate some 82 percent of North Carolina residents who purchase health plans through the state’s ACA exchange will pay $75 or less per month even if premiums rose by about 25 percent, thanks to ACA subsidies.
The Wilmington (DE) News Journal (8/24, Rini) reports that even if premiums rose “by 50 percent, about three-quarters of those who purchased a plan on Delaware’s Obamacare marketplace will pay less than $75 a month,” according to HHS’ analysis.
Also covering the story are the Chicago Tribune (8/24, Schencker), Columbus (OH) Dispatch (8/24, Sullivan), The Hill (8/24, Ferris), Congressional Quarterly (8/24, Mershon, Subscription Publication), Houston Chronicle (8/24, Deam), Salt Lake (UT) Tribune (8/24, Stuckey), Washington Examiner (8/24, Cunningham), Baton Rouge (LA) Advocate (8/24, Griggs), Charleston (SC) Post and Courier (8/24, Asberry), Daily Caller (8/24, Brufke), Dayton (OH) Daily News (8/24, Tucker), Detroit News (8/24, Bouffard), Lincoln (NE) Journal Star (8/24, Pluhacek), Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch (8/24, Demeria), Washington Times (8/24, Howell), Asbury Park (NJ) Press (8/24), Dallas Morning News (8/24), Las Vegas Review-Journal (8/24), Topeka (KS) Capital-Journal (8/24), and Modern Healthcare (8/24, Muchmore, Subscription Publication).
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Individual Market Updates for Iowa in 2017

Wellmark will begin offering on-Marketplace products in 2017
Wellmark will offer subsidy eligible products on the Marketplace (exchange) in 40 counties in Iowa in 2017. They have partnered with Mercy and the University of Iowa Health Alliance to offer 2 new networks where Marketplace products will be offered. Please join us for the Fall CECs for detailed information on these plans, their designs and their service areas.
Wellmark will continue to offer their PPO and HMO product portfolio off the Marketplace statewide.

Medica will continue to offer on and off-Marketplace policies statewide
Medica will continue to offer on and off-Marketplace products in all counties in Iowa for 2017.

Aetna to continue offering on-Marketplace products in parts of Iowa
Aetna recently announced they will be pulling out of the individual public exchanges in 11 of the 14 states that they currently do business for 2017. They will also reduce the number of counties in which the product is available in the remaining states.
Aetna/Coventry will no longer offer products in the following Iowa counties:
Adams, Allamakee, Buena Vista, Chickasaw, Davis, Fayette, Howard, Iowa, Jefferson, Keokuk, Lee, Louisa, Mahaska, Monroe, O'Brien, Page, Pocahontas, Taylor, Van Buren, Wapello, Wayne and Winneshiek
Off-Marketplace membership in the above counties will be termed on 12/31/2016.
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Aetna To Exit Most ACA Exchanges Where It Currently Operates.
The Washington Post (8/16, Johnson) reports that on Monday, Aetna, the third largest health insurer in the US, announced in 2017, it will exit 11 of the 15 Affordable Care Act exchanges where it currently operates.
On the CBS Evening News (8/16, story 7, 1:55, Pelley), Jan Crawford reported that Aetna attributed the move to over $430 million in losses on individual plans since January 2014.
On its front-page, the Washington Post (8/16, A1, Johnson, Eilperin) says Aetna’s decision “is exposing a problem in” the ACA “that could lead to another fraught political battle in Congress.” The Post calls Aetna’s move “the latest sign that large insurers are losing money” in ACA marketplaces, “heightening concerns about the long-term stability of a key part of Obama’s domestic policy legacy.” However, “addressing this issue could open the door to a nasty political fight, given that some Republicans have vowed to repeal the law outright.”
The AP (8/16, Murphy) reports Aetna’s exit follows similar announcements by UnitedHealth and Humana, as well as the failure of most of the ACA co-ops in the last two years. The article says diminishing “exchange participation from insurers is becoming a concern because competition is supposed to help control insurance price increases, and many carriers have already announced plans to seek price hikes of around 10 percent or more for 2017.” As a result of this scaling back, states such as Oklahoma and Alaska will have just one insurer offering coverage through their exchanges in 2017.
TIME (8/16, Close) reports that Aetna “has been one of the largest Obamacare providers since the exchanges launched two years ago.” Its decision to exit many ACA marketplaces “will result in a significant loss of competition among health insurance providers” in states such as Arizona.
Aetna’s Exit Will Contribute To Less Competition, Higher Premiums In Some States. In an analysis piece, USA Today (8/16, O'Donnell) reports Aetna’s announcement “follows dozens of similar decisions by large and small insurers across the country, moves that dramatically reduced competition in some states and contributed to increased premiums.” According to some healthcare experts, this outcome was “inevitable,” given that insurers must now compete on price. Sara Collins, vice president of healthcare coverage and access at the Commonwealth Fund, said, “There’s very intense price competition now. ... The market is now functioning in a more typical way, so consequently some are going to do well and others are not.”
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Providing solutions and expertise in healthcare coverage and employee benefits for our clients. To provide these services and products to meet the individual needs of our clients and their best interests, not ours. With this attitude AMGI hopes to achieve a partnership philosophy with our clients and partners.

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Jesse Patton (2nd from left) discusses healthcare with President Bush.
This was at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD on January 26, 2005.

 

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