Obamacare Meltdown: It's Worse Than We Thought

Sometimes it's hard to understand the big picture because so many things are happening at once that we lose track of the overall picture.

Such is the case with the ongoing meltdown of Obamacare. Open enrollment for the ACA begins in just a couple of weeks and many consumers are in for a shock. The grim statistics start with the 1.4 million Americans who will lose their plans this coming year because so many big insurance companies have dropped out of the exchanges.

Bloomberg:

A growing number of people in Obamacare are finding out their health insurance plans will disappear from the program next year, forcing them to find new coverage even as options shrink and prices rise.

At least 1.4 million people in 32 states will lose the Obamacare plan they have now, according to state officials contacted by Bloomberg. That’s largely caused by Aetna Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc. and some state or regional insurers quitting the law’s marketsfor individual coverage.

Sign-ups for Obamacare coverage begin next month. Fallout from the quitting insurers has emerged as the latest threat to the law, which is also a major focal point in the U.S. presidential election. While it’s not clear what all the consequences of the departing insurers will be, interviews with regulators and insurance customers suggest that plans will be fewer and more expensive, and may not include the same doctors and hospitals.

It may also mean that instead of growing in 2017, Obamacare could shrink. As of March 31, the law covered 11.1 million people; an Oct. 13 S&P Global Ratings report predicted that enrollment next year will range from an 8 percent decline to a 4 percent gain.

Last year in Minnesota, Theresa Puffer, 61, used Obamacare to sign up for a BlueCross BlueShield plan after leaving her job following a skin cancer diagnosis. “I would have had a hard time finding any sort of coverage before the ACA,” Puffer said by phone.

Next year, Puffer’s plan is disappearing from Obamacare -- making her one of about 20,000 Minnesotans in the same situation. To make matters worse, premiums for other plans in the state will rise by at least 50 percent, though subsidies under the law can help cushion the blow.

“Trying to determine which would be the best plan for my situation is not easy,” Puffer said. Her dermatologist appears to be out of network in other plans, she said. “I’m willing to pay a higher premium to see him, because when you have cancer you want to stay with the same group of doctors,” she said. “I’ve spent so much time trying to figure out what my options are.”

Minnesota is only one of two dozen states that have massive problems with Obamacare. The Senate GOP Communications Center has compiled a helpful list of links to articles detailing just how bad things are around the country.

It's worse than we thought.

“South Carolina becomes the fifth state to officially be left with a single insurer in the Obamacare exchanges, with Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. Based on current projections, North Carolina and Kansas could also be left in the same boat.” (“There Are Now 5 States With Only One Insurance Company Offering Obamacare Plans,” Business Insider, 10/04/2016)

NORTH CAROLINA: “As major insurers jilt their ACA customers, nowhere in the country will more people be left with only a single insurer when the marketplaces open for a fourth year of business. These defections are causing turbulence for a quarter-million North Carolinians whose insurance companies are leaving the state — and for the main insurer that will remain.” (“In North Carolina, ACA Insurer Defections Leave Little Choice For Many Consumers,” The Washington Post, 10/14/2016)

TENNESSEE: “…seismic changes to the state’s insurance options…” (“BCBST's Exit From 3 Obamacare Markets Sends Shock Waves,” The Tennessean, 9/27/16)

“In Tennessee, UnitedHealth and the state’s BlueCross BlueShield plan are pulling back, and about 117,000 people will lose the plans they have now.” (“More Than 1 Million In Obamacare To Lose Plans As Insurers Quit,” Bloomberg, 10/14/16)

ARIZONA: “Nearly 60,000 people, enrolled in Obamacare in Maricopa County, will soon be left with just one provider.” (“60K Self-Insured In Maricopa County Lose Coverage, Left With 1 Healthcare Provider,” Fox 10 Phoenix KSAZ, 10/04/2016)

NEW JERSEY: “Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey will shut down for next year, forcing 35,000 people to find new insurance by Jan. 1. The shutdown leaves just two companies doing business on HealthCare.gov, the Affordable Care Act marketplace for New Jersey. And it highlights the flaws of President Obama’s signature health law, as well as the difficulties of starting a new insurance company.” (“Health Republic Insurance Of New Jersey’s Demise Exposes Flaws Of Obamacare,” The Record, 10/3/16)

FLORIDA & MISSISSIPPI:“Nearly three-fourths of Florida’s counties and more than four-fifths of Mississippi’s will be down to one insurer.” (“In North Carolina, ACA Insurer Defections Leave Little Choice For Many Consumers,” The Washington Post, 10/14/2016)