Benefits.....Opinion, Hearsay & News Review
CMS reported as of December 26,
2015, 8.5 million individuals enrolled in federal exchange plans, up 2 million
from the prior year. In most states premiums are increasing by double digits,
with 17 states reporting increases of 20% or more. In MN, HI, TN and AK, rates
rose by 30% or more. Twenty states are seeing average single digit increases.
Kentucky’s governor announced
on December 30th that the state exchange will cease operations as
soon as practicable. More than 100,000 people had signed up on the exchange.
Kaiser Family Foundation reports
that between 1999 and 2015, premiums for employer plans increased by 203%,
outpacing inflation and wages.
Swiss Re has signed an agreement
to acquire the IHC Risk Solutions employer stop loss business from Independence
Holding Company for $152 million dollars.
As reported in the Washington
Post, brand name drug prices increased by almost 15% in 2015 and specialty drugs
increased in price by 9.21 percent. Generics rose 2.93 percent.
Aon Hewitt reports that average
cost increases for global plans are expected to reach 9.1% compared to U.S.
increases that are expected to be 5.7% in 2016. Latin American and Middle East
medical cost trends are double digit.
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UnitedHealth reported losses of
$720 million on exchange plans in 2015. As a result of the losses, UHC has
announced it may reconsider exchange participation next year. UHC has 700,000
exchange members. Humana is also expecting losses on the exchange plans in 2016.
In the meantime, the struggling Land of Lincoln co-op is dropping University of
Chicago Medicine from its network on March 1, 2016. Anthem has announced
premiums will probably go up again for exchange plans after increasing their
premiums for silver plans by an average of 11% this year.
The U.S. government suspended
new enrollment in Cigna Medicare Advantage and drug programs for improper
handling of prior authorization and exception requests. Cigna announced it was
trying to resolve the problems as soon as possible.
Health spending in the U.S.
topped $3 trillion in 2014, equaling 17.5% of GDP. That amounts to $9,500 for
every man, woman and child in the country.
The CBO is projecting a taxpayer
cost of $56 billion in 2016 for tax credits which subsidize insurers
participating in the exchanges.