Huge rate increases pose serious test for Obamacare… UNITEDHEALTH profits grow with retreat

Rate Increases for Health Plans Pose Serious Test for Obama’s Signature Law

Market leaders in numerous states granted premium bumps of 30% or more, but administration cautions rates don’t reflect what many consumers actually pay

Finalized rates for big health insurance plans around the country show the magnitude of the challenge facing the Obama administration as it seeks to stabilize the insurance market under the Affordable Care Act in its remaining weeks in office.

Market leaders that are continuing to sell coverage through or a state equivalent have been granted average premium increases of 30% or more in Alabama, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Mississippi and Texas, according to information published by state regulators and on a federal site designed to highlight rate increases of 10% or more.

In states including Arizona, Illinois, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, the approved rate increases for the market leader top 50%. In New Mexico, the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan agreed to resume selling plans through the online exchanges after sitting out last year, but has been allowed to increase rates 93% on their 2015 level.

Dominant insurers in Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland and Oregon have been allowed to raise premiums by 20% or more, and rate increases from similarly situated carriers in Colorado, Florida and Idaho are brushing up against that threshold.


UnitedHealth profits grow with retreat from Obamacare

UnitedHealth Group reported strong profits and boosted its earnings forecast Tuesday helped by its controversial pullout from the Obamacare health insurance program.

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Shares of the largest US health insurer and health benefits manager led the Dow Jones Industrial Average higher, jumping nearly 6 percent on its third quarter earnings and a strong outlook 2017.

UnitedHealth scored gains across the business, with increases in both employer-based health programs and those run through the US government Medicaid and Medicare programs.

Revenues also rose in its Optum health services business, which employs data analytics to serve employers, governments and other parties.

“Our growth indicators are positive as we conclude 2016, and we expect to be well positioned in 2017 to better serve consumers and deliver more value to the health system overall,” said chief executive Stephen Hemsley.

Net profit was up 23.2 percent to $2.0 billion compared with the year-ago level. Revenues rose 11.6 percent to $46.3 billion.

“But we have to pass it to find out what’s in it.” Nancy Pelosi, where are you now when Obamacare is on the verge of requiring life support? Do you resuscitate or pull the plug?


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