Arizona’s angry old man John McCain is sounding like a broken record again, in a television ad (http://bit.ly/1svTrIg) criticizing Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, the presumptive Democratic nominee, for her 2010 vote in favor of Obamacare. McCain hits Kirkpatrick over Obamacare in TV ad.
McCain’s ad comes at the same time the Huffington Post reported on the latest coverage figures, by way of the CDC, with which the “McMedia” in Arizona should familiarize itself.
More than 7 million previously uninsured Americans gained health coverage in 2015, the second full year of the Obamacare coverage expansion, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
During the fourth quarter of last year, just 9.1 percent of U.S. residents, or 28.6 million people, had no health coverage, the National Health Interview Survey found. That’s a decline of 2.4 percentage points and 7.4 million people from a year before.
The additional 7.4 million insured builds on the 8.8 million previously uninsured people who got covered in 2014, the first year of the Affordable Care Act’s full benefits.
The full report from the CDC is online here (pdf).
When was the last time more than 90% of Americans had health insurance? As Sarah Kliff at Vox.com explains, 2015 was the first year 90 percent of Americans had health insurance. Thanks, Obama. And Thank you, Ann Kirkpatrick.
McCain’s ad focuses on a recent report that United Heath Care is pulling out of the Arizona “Obamacare” marketplace. One of Arizona’s largest health-care insurers to exit marketplace; second could follow.
It’s not just Arizona: UnitedHealthcare announced that they plan on pulling out of most states next year. Why? “The exchange market is proving to be smaller and riskier than UnitedHealth had expected, meaning ‘we cannot broadly serve it on an effective and sustained basis.'” Sorry folks, not enough profit.
This came at the same time United Health Care released its first-quarter results, which topped analysts’ profit estimates in part thanks to UnitedHealth’s consulting, technology and services unit, Optum. “Earnings were $1.81 a share, excluding some items, UnitedHealth said in a statement, exceeding the $1.72 average of 24 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Changes to how the company accounts for taxes on stock-based compensation boosted adjusted earnings by 6 cents a share, UnitedHealth said.”
“Basically, the ACA exchanges are acting as a loss leader…except that unlike, say, an automaker who offers a low-end car in hopes that you’ll upgrade to a more expensive, profitable model instead, United doesn’t seem to see any way of ‘converting’ their ACA enrollees over to profitable divisions.” UPDATED: UnitedHealthcare lowers the boom: Pulling out of exchanges in most states, as expected.
This isn’t about the “failure” of the Obamacare insurance exchange, it’s about the unbridled insurance company greed for profits.
And This is the impact of the nation’s largest insurer leaving Obamacare: “While it would appear that United Health’s exit would radically change the game for the ACA exchanges, the impact may not be that significant.”
For one thing, United Health never really entered these marketplaces head first. In fact, as of March 31, the company insures only 750,000 of the more than 12 million people enrolled in Obamacare.
In fact, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, which focuses on healthcare policy, the impact on enrollees’ premiums and competition would not be substantial.
“The effect of a United withdrawal nationally would be modest,” said a study by Cynthia Cox and Ashley Semanskee of Kaiser. “The national weighted average benchmark silver plan would have been roughly 1% higher in 2016 had United not participated (less than $4 per month for an unsubsidized 40-year-old).”
Cox and Semanskee found that United offered mostly high-cost plans in just 34 states in the US as of 2016, so by removing itself from the exchanges the impact would not be as significant as you may think in terms of increased cost or limited choice.
In terms of competition, if United does remove itself from all exchanges Cox and Semanskee found that 53% of all counties covered by exchanges would have only one or two exchanges. While this is significant, most counties with limited options are more rural and less populated. Therefore, the total number of people with limited choice is still relatively low.
If McNasty wants to complain about the insurance marketplace options available in Arizona, he should start with Governor Jan Brewer who rejected the option of Arizona establishing its own state-run health insurance exchange, and the right-wing ideologues in this state who voted for the Arizona Health Insurance Reform Amendment, Proposition 106 (2010).
Forward-looking progressive states, like Minnesota, considers a ‘public option on steroids’:
A bill introduced in the Minnesota state senate last month would create the first real “public option” in a state ACA marketplace. In fact the plan, if implemented, would create a state intervention in the marketplace more sweeping than the public option as generally understood by those who conceived the basic architecture of what became the Affordable Care Act.
The bill, SF2859, would allow health insurance shoppers of any income level to buy into MinnesotaCare, the state’s Basic Health Plan (BHP). The ACA gives the states the option of forming BHPs, state-run health plans with very low cost sharing for residents with incomes between 139% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). To date, Minnesota and New York are the only states to offer a BHP. Those who are eligible for the BHP are ineligible for tax credits to buy private plans in the ACA marketplace.
(This lengthy “explainer” piece is well worth the read).
You don’t hear McNasty offering you any alternative plan to deliver more affordable health care to Arizona residents, do you?
McNasty, in his typical Obama Derangement Syndrome knee-jerk reaction to oppose anything that the man who humiliated him in a landslide in 2008, just wants to repeal “Obamacare,” which would create an insurance market disruption on a large scale and would take health insurance away from millions of Americans who now have it. That’s what John McCain is proposing.
McCain’s ad also references the annual “double digit rate hikes” fear mongering that appears in the media this time of year, which conflates rate requests from greedy insurance companies with the rate actually approved by the government before the exchange opens for enrollment in October. “Obamacare” has been a success in controlling the annual rise in insurance premium rates. Premium Increases Under Obamacare Have Stayed Really Low:
The Department of Health and Human Services has issued a report on 2016 premium increases under Obamacare. This is useful information if you want to answer the following question:
How much do actual Obamacare users have to pay for coverage?
Of course, if this is the question you’re interested in then you have to take into account all the data. You can’t cherry pick just one or two providers; you can’t focus on just the states with the highest increases; you can’t ignore the fact that lots of people shop around for the best price each year; and you can’t pretend the federal subsidies don’t exist. You have to take a look at the nationwide average of what users actually paid. When you do, it turns out that premiums increased about 4 percent this year in the federal marketplace.
Sorry, Johnny, four percent is not “a massive rate hike, more than twice the national average.”
But that’s not the only question you might want to ask. There’s also this one:
How has Obamacare affected the cost of health coverage more generally?
You can’t answer this by looking only at Obamacare because there’s nothing to compare it to. You can’t compare Obamacare premiums to premiums in the individual market prior to 2013, because the individual market excluded sick people. Naturally premiums used to be lower. Nor can you compare Obamacare premiums to premiums for employer health care. The coverage is completely different. It’s apples to oranges.
But there are other things you can look at. For example, you can look at the cost of employer coverage over the past decade or so. If Obamacare has devastated the insurance market or jacked up the cost of health care, it will show up here. And this is a nice, clean series for the entire period that provides an apples-to-apples comparison. You can see it on the right.
Long story short, nothing much has happened. The annual increase in premiums declined to about 5 percent in the mid-aughts, and since Obamacare passed it’s been about 3 percent. Nothing to see here.
Well there is something to see here. John McCain’s ad is aimed at low information ideologically conservative voters who get their news from the fact free world of FAUX News and who don’t understand complex health care policy. And he is relying on the GOP-friendly “McMedia” in this state not to point out that his ad is lying to voters. I just did.