In the Health Reform Update for the past week, one of the nation’s largest health insurers will withdraw next year from at least 22 of the 34 Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplaces in which it is participating for 2016, including Florida and Texas. The Kaiser Family Foundation predicts that UnitedHealthcare’s exit will have a minimal impact on premiums except in states like Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska, and North Carolina where it is the only competitor across most counties.
The latest review of 2016 Marketplace premiums by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that rate hikes averaged only four percent for the 85 percent of consumers receiving Affordable Care Act (ACA) premium subsidies and eight percent overall. HHS officials point out that these figures are far below the 20-40 percent average rate hikes that ACA opponents predicted based upon preliminary rate filings by insurers.
Arkansas’ Republican governor uses his line-item veto authority to preserve the popular Private Option program that has expanded Medicaid to more than a quarter of a million Arkansans. However, Idaho’s Republican governor concedes defeat in his effort to expand Medicaid, while Medicaid expansion efforts failed for the fourth time in Nebraska and are expected to be vetoed for a sixth time by Maine’s Republican governor.
Florida becomes the first state in the nation to protect consumers from surprise medical bills when they are treated by out-of-network contractors at in-network facilities, while Covered California becomes the first ACA Marketplace to set quality and cost transparency standards on participating plans and providers.