In place of a Health Alert today, I am going to relate some things I have been hearing and ask you to respond in the comments section on whether your intelligence is similar to mine.
- Aetna and UnitedHealth Care pulling out of California is only the tip of the iceberg. Tens of thousands of individual policyholders all over the country are getting cancellation notices this summer, effective December 31st.
- Insurers pulling out of entire states and cancelling their individual business has actually been going on for several years, but is not getting reported.
- In general, the health care media is reluctant to publish anything negative about ObamaCare, unless the White House admits it; and even then the news is accompanied by the official spin. (The reality is worse than people are being led to believe.)
- There has been a significant drop off (on the order of 10% or more) in new business purchases of health insurance.
Just when everything looks so dark
- California is not an aberration. Plans in the exchange will pay providers somewhere between Medicare rates and private fees and the networks will be very narrow. (Think of these plans as Medicare Plus, with a lot of doctors not participating; if Massachusetts becomes the model, they will be Medicaid Plus.)
- In states that have been aggressively setting up their own exchanges, there has been a great deal of back-and-forth communication between the exchange managers and the insurance companies to make sure everything works right. But in the 33 states where the federal government will be running things, there has been no communication at all.
- As far as the technical specs are concerned, the insurance companies need a lead time of about 15 months — 12 months to get their systems designed and about three months to beta test them. So the industry needed these specs from the federal government one year ago. They still don’t have them.
- Crony capitalism is becoming rampant — with some health plans, for example, getting special exemptions not given to others at the state level.