Government health insurance markets holding up--barely

Jeremy Wynes, a Republican candidate USA representative in Illinois' 10th Congressional District, took to social media after the New York Times (NYT) estimated that 45 counties and up to 35,000 people would have no Affordable Care Act (ACA) carriers in 2018.

IL faced up to three-fourths of its counties having only one or two insurers offering coverage on the ACA exchange in 2017. But, while nearly everyone agrees that health care in the United States is broken, neither the national media nor political leadership have added much to the public's understanding of how basically flawed the system is, how it was destined to become so costly, while healing so few compared with health care outcomes in any other advanced economy.

Saying Medicaid reform is necessary, but not in the way it has been suggested recently in Congress, the leaders of 10 health insurance plans have issued a joint letter to all 100 Senators and key committee members urging them to reconsider proposed Medicaid provisions and their potential impact. In either scenario, the markets are damaged by having fewer people insured and like much else in this bill, it puts the poor and the sick at risk for financial hardship and diminished medical resources. But repeated price hikes can fuel that problem because they make insurance less attractive to healthy people.

Despite all those concerns, more than two dozen insurers have said they are making plans to continue selling coverage on the exchanges. Some, nonprofit Blue Cross-Blue Shield plans in particular, have spent decades in their markets and are reluctant to end such long-standing presences.

Others want to protect investments they have made in setting up networks of providers, hoping they can eventually make money. Right now in our basic Medicaid plan we get $14 billion from the fed government. That means companies can raise their premiums high enough to avoid losses and not worry about hurting individuals or families with the coverage.

"Most Medicaid support goes for elderly, and those in nursing homes and those with disabilities and folks that are in a lower income situation and it might even be temporary, they may be working but can't afford health insurance", Berge said.

  • Zachary Reyes