KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Who’s To Blame For Premium Spikes This Year? Well, There’s Enough To Go Around

Insurers are still trying to overcome financial difficulties they've had under the Affordable Care Act, but uncertainty on the future of the marketplace due to turmoil in Washington, D.C., hasn't helped either. Meanwhile, even if President Donald Trump follows through on his threats to stop the "insurer bailouts," it could actually make plans more affordable.

The Associated Press: More Health Insurance Woes Looming: Blame Trump Or Obama?
Another year of big premium increases and dwindling choice is looking like a distinct possibility for many consumers who buy their own health insurance — but why, and who’s to blame? President Donald Trump has seized on early market rumbles as validation of his claim that “Obamacare” is a disaster, collapsing of its own weight. Democrats, meanwhile, accuse Trump of “sabotage” on a program he’s disparaged and wants to dismantle. It’s more complicated, say some independent experts. As for blame, there’s enough to go around. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 5/17)

NPR: Trump Plan To End Insurance Subsidies Could Lower Costs For Consumers
President Trump has been saying in recent weeks that the Affordable Care act, or Obamacare, is "dead." So he's threatened to cut off crucial payments to health insurance companies that help low-income customers pay day to day health care expenses. That plan, however, may just end up bringing more people into the Affordable Care Act insurance markets. (Kodjak, 5/16)

In related news —

Concord (N.H.) Monitor: Despite Uncertainty, All Insurance Companies Want To Return To N.H. Marketplace Next Year
New Hampshire’s health insurance marketplace continues to fare well compared to other states struggling in the face of uncertainties about the future of the Affordable Care Act, since all four companies currently selling policies in New Hampshire have applied to do so again next year. The New Hampshire Insurance Department said in a press release Tuesday that it has received initial filings from insurance companies to offer various medical and dental plans on the 2018 New Hampshire Marketplace on through the ACA. (Brooks, 5/16)

The Oregonian: Health Insurance Rate Increases For 2018 Submitted To Regulators
Oregonians in the individual insurance market should brace themselves for yet another year of double-digit rate hikes. Eight insurance companies are seeking increases ranging from 6.9 percent to 21.8 percent over 2017. The companies had until Tuesday to submit their 2018 rate requests with the Oregon Insurance Commission. Some consumers will also face dwindling choices for insurance. In Lane, Lincoln and Tillamook counties, just two insurance companies applied to do business in the individual market. (Manning, 5/16)

Bloomberg: Obamacare Insurer Oscar's New Strategy Helps To Narrow Loss 
Oscar Insurance Corp. is starting to stem the bleeding after years of reporting large losses. The privately held health insurer, created to sell plans under the Affordable Care Act, lost $25.8 million across three states in the first three months of this year, compared with a loss of $48.5 million a year earlier, according to regulatory filings Tuesday. The company is beginning to get a handle on its medical costs, as the premiums it collected exceeded what it spent on health services. The Affordable Care Act’s markets for individual health insurance plans have presented challenges for even experienced insurers. (Tracer, 5/16)

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