Health Insurance Update 2-21-2017

While there was much said about speedy action on repealing the Affordable Care Act, it appears that a number of Republicans are coming to their senses and realizing that it is better to go slow and have a solid replacement ready to go or even more shockingly, fix what’s not working and leave the good parts in place. The Affordable Care Act took years to put together and does have key components that have changed health insurance for the better for millions of Americans. And, there are definitely some parts that are not working. Senator Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions had stated that while the legislative efforts will move quickly, the actual implementations will be done when there are concrete, practical alternatives in place. What is most ominous at this point is that insurance companies are continuing to feel anxiety about the uncertainty and are hesitant to commit to 2018 when there are so many unknowns.  Humana has announced that they will be dropping out the individual market for 2018. Aetna has strongly hinted that they will be pulling out of the individual market as well, though there has been no formal announcement. Aetna and Humana are minor players in the market, so this does not have a huge immediate impact, thought there will be a few counties with no available health insurance. As insurance companies need to file plans for 2018 starting in April, more insurance companies will be making their decisions with many having threatened to pull out. The Trump administration has announced a regulation that may help which would limit the length of the annual open enrollment periods and limit special enrollment periods. This action would help offset people signing up for health insurance just when they need it. This is necessary for insurance companies to accumulate reserves similar to how you can’t purchase home insurance while your house is on fire.  The IRS has announced that they will no longer require tax filers to indicate whether they had health coverage or paid a penalty which most likely result in a negative impact. This story will continue and hopefully there will some continued good news about the possibilities of repair.

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