ObamaCare will be back in the news this week, as some of the new coverage mandates begin to take effect.
Democrats who were hoping that seeing what’s in the bill would prompt voters to give them a boost will not be happy to see stories like this one appearing in the Hartford (Ct.) Courant:
The state’s largest health insurer was granted rate hikes Friday that will be well over 20 percent for some plans, drawing sharp criticism from the attorney general.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Connecticut requested a wide range of premium increases, which will take effect Oct. 1, to cover the costs of new benefits required by federal health reform. Higher prices mostly affect new members shopping for a health plan on the individual market rather than people who have group plans through an employer or some other organization.
The Connecticut Department of Insurance approved Anthem’s request without changes, including a boost of as much as 22.9 percent just to comply with one provision: eliminating annual spending limits per customer. But it’s unclear how much more customers will pay because of the variety of plans and the complexity of other factors, such as a person’s age.
All of Connecticut’s major health insurers filed proposed rate changes for new plans, or revised plans, to cover the new benefits. Besides Anthem, the only other health insurer that has been approved thus far was Aetna, which requested an average 24.7 percent increase over last year for small-group HMO plans. State regulators agreed to an average increase of 18 percent for all of Aetna’s small-group plans and 14.2 percent for large-group and middle-market plans.
People shopping for insurance on the individual market are, of course, the people who needed health reform the most. That doesn’t seem to be working out for them anywhere, which is no real surprise. (Btw, the attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, happens to be the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Connecticut.)
Closer to home, a writer at InsureBlog reports the following changes in the Georgia health-insurance market:
All but two health insurance companies have withdrawn from offering maternity benefits.
Only a handful of companies will still write “child only” health insurance plans.
As of this date, it is almost impossible to find a rate for children’s health insurance if they are under age 19 and you are looking for coverage to be effective on 9/23/10 or later.
Some companies have either withdrawn from offering major medical business or are dropping hints they will be out of that market in 18 months or less.
Many have already indicated higher premiums for the 4th quarter of 2010 and later, especially on children under age 19.
Companies are starting to push limited benefit plans as “more affordable” alternatives to true major medical insurance.
Several companies have introduced new plans with stripped down benefits in an attempt to make their product look more appealing.
Drug formulary’s are changing, so the drug that is covered under your plan now may not be covered in the future.
Doctor and hospital networks are shrinking in an effort to further control costs but also has the effect of limiting access to a wide range of medical providers.
One way to look at these changes is to view them, as numerous Democrats acknowledged during the ObamaCare debate, as the first step toward a single-payer health system.
Given that even Bill Clinton is now admitting that he was wrong during the debate to advise Democrats that the bill would be a political winner “the minute” it became law, I doubt this policy of willing a train wreck upon the health-insurance market will end up working — for patients or Democrats.