Hot on the heels of the most recent REFORM UPDATE post comes a series of news items reported by Kaiser Health News. If anyone doubted that (a) insurers would fight back against the coverage requirements of PPACA or (b) that those being regulated will always have the advantage over the regulators, or (c) there’s no free lunch, these items should rapidly dispel the illusion.
The Wall Street Journal reports that several insurers, including Aetna and a number of Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans are asking for premium increases ranging from 1 to 9 percent “to pay for extra benefits required under the [new] law.” The increases apply primarily to small group and individual coverage, with large groups escaping so far, either because their coverage already includes PPACA mandates such as no-co-pay preventive care or because they are shielded by PPACA’s grandfathering provisions. The Los Angeles Times reports larger increases in the California individual market, with HealthNet, Blue Cross, and Blue Shield each gaining approval for up to 16 percent premium hikes.
In Texas, meanwhile, Grand Prairie-based National Health Insurance is telling policyholders it won’t renew individual policies. The Dallas Morning News notes that National Health has been experiencing financial problems for some time, but also manages to suggest that reform is to blame ("The cancellation highlights one way the new law is reshaping the health care landscape in North Texas and elsewhere. Some health economists say more small insurers may soon buckle under the weight of the law's mandates...").
And, finally, in Colorado, it’s reported that five insurers will no longer offer health insurance to children whose parents are not also covered by their plans. The Colorado Independent says: “The insurers say offering child policies made business sense when they could just cover healthy kids but that since federal law now requires them to offer insurance to all kids, including kids with pre-existing medical conditions, they are withdrawing from their child-only plans."