Remember how Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats promised that ObamaCare would bend the cost curve downward? Expect to see a lot of Minnesotans get bent over in the exchanges instead — again. Premiums will go up at least 14%, and in some cases as much as 49%, after the state approved the rate changes from insurers yesterday:
State officials say Minnesotans buying health coverage through MNsure will pay between 14 percent and 49 percent more on average next year.
The state on Thursday released 2016 rate increases for consumers who shop on the individual market. Most Minnesotans are covered through employer health plans.
But wait — there’s a silver lining, says the state official whose office manages these rates:
State Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman says more Minnesotans than ever will qualify for federal tax credits available through MNsure to lower the cost of health coverage.
Wow! People can get more tax credits, using money that comes from … er … other taxpayers, especially medical providers and manufacturers. They will have to raise their rates to keep up, which means that premiums will have to go up again, and that means … well, who can think that far ahead? Not Democrats, certainly.
The biggest price hikes come from the largest insurer, naturally. Almost 180,000 Minnesotans will see increases of at least 45%, which is more than half of all customers on the MNsure exchange:
The Commerce Department said Thursday that rates will increase next year an average of 45 percent to 49 percent at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, the largest insurer in the market with an estimated 179,000 enrollees.
Regulators also approved average jumps ranging from 14 percent to 39 percent for HealthPartners, Medica, PreferredOne in UCare.
All five companies sought increases in excess of 10 percent, including a requested spike of more than 50 percent by Blue Cross.
I linked it yesterday, but my column for The Fiscal Times specifically noted not just ObamaCare’s failure to control costs, but its gasoline-on-flames impact on them:
How has that worked out? Just as well as Obamacare, as we have seen in three successive explosions in health-care premium rates. Even though prices skyrocketed for 2014 and 2015 coverage, insurers still underestimated the utilization of their plans under the Obamacare mandate. Delaware announced approval for premium hikes of 22.4 percent, while AIS’ Health Business Daily reported last week to its subscribers on a long list of approvals by states for double-digit premium increases.
The list includes key swing states such as Florida (16.2 percent for UnitedHealth, 13.9 percent for Aetna), Iowa (19.8 percent for an Aetna subsidiary), and Michigan (average increase of 11.4 percent across all 14 plans). The Street’s Brian O’Connell reported that insurers “are just now starting to get a firm grip on costs,” which has been complicated by “the underlying growth in health care costs,” and premiums may rise again by as much as 40 percent in some states.
Remember when President Obama promised that Obamacare would “bend the cost curve downward,” and that the exchanges would broaden consumer choice? Instead, consumers have seen premiums repeatedly skyrocket, and choices for less expensive coverage evaporate. AIS notes that Blue Cross Blue Shield will pull out of New Mexico, cutting 35,000 individual-market customers after losing over $19 million in 2015.
Why? The company was denied an application for a 51.6 percent average increase for its plans. Other insurers have shut down operations in state exchanges as well, or blinked out of existence altogether. O’Connell also points out that Obamacare has resulted in a series of mergers among insurers, noting, “Less competition means higher prices.”
Remember — if you like your fiscal sanity, you can keep your fiscal sanity. Or something.