2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

Michigan

Hey Michigan Residents! Do you live in Michigan's 1st Congressional District? Are you sick of Jack Bergman (MI-01) refusing to even talk to you about their "replacement" healthcare bill, which would tear away healthcare coverage for millions of Americans and hurt the coverage of countless millions more?

If so, come on out to Traverse City TOMORROW, Sunday, August 20th, and join State Representatives Christine Greig (appearing in person) and myself (appearing via Skype) as we explain what the latest craziness is regarding the ACA, the GOP attempts to repeal and/or sabotage it and healthcare policy in general from 10:30am - 11:30am at the Workshop Brewery, 221 Garland St. in Traverse City:

Hey Michigan Residents! Do you live in Michigan's 8th or 11th Congressional District? Are you sick of Mike Bishop (MI-08) and Dave Trott (MI-11) refusing to even talk to you about their "replacement" healthcare bill, which would tear away healthcare coverage for millions of Americans and hurt the coverage of countless millions more?

If so, come on out to either Plymouth (MI-11) or Orion Township (MI-08) TOMORROW, Sunday, July 16th, and join me, MI-05 Congressman Dan Kildee and State Representatives Christine Greig / Brian Elder as we explain just WTF is going on with the GOP's healthcare debacle (click links below to RSVP):

From 11am - 1pm I'll be joining U.S. Rep. Kildee and State Rep. Greig at the Plymouth Elks Lodge, 41700 Ann Arbor Rd. E. in Plymouth, MI 48170:

MI-11 includes the following major cities:

I've been writing for months now about the impact of the Trump/GOP Sabotage Effect on 2018 rate hikes. Generally speaking, premium increases will be due to four things:

Medical Inflation: That is, the actual increases in charges by hospitals, doctors, medical equipment, prescription medication, administrative overhead and so on. In a perfect world, this would be the only reason rates ever go up.

Reinstatement of the Health Insurance Providers Fee: One of the ACA's funding sources is a broad-based fee placed on health insurance companies themselves. Basically, a small portion of all premiums for all enrollees (including the total nongroup (on & off-exchange), small group and large group markets) is paid as a tax to the federal government which in turn uses it to partially fund the ACA's tax credits, CSR payments and Medicaid expansion provisions. The carrier tax was waived for 2016-2017, but is scheduled to be reinstated next year, so premiums wiill go up a bit accordingly. It's supposed to total around $14 billion next year.

Both of these are unfortunate, but make total sense in an ACA world: Healthcare costs do rise year to year (though at a slower pace since the ACA passed), while the carrier tax helps cover a chunk of the subsidies and Medicaid expansion funding.

Normally I don't post my Rate Hike Project analysis for a state until I have rate filing data available for all (or nearly all) of the individual market enrollees on hand.

I'm making an exception in the case of Michigan, however, because a) it's my home state, and b) My wife, son and I happen to be enrolled in an ACA exchange policy ourselves, via Blue Care Network (the HMO division of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan).

Unfortunately, as of today (6/13) only one carrier has submitted their 2018 rate filing for the ACA-compliant individual market...and it's BCBSMI itself. That is, the PPO division of Blue Cross, not the HMO division.

Of the 31 states which have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, only a handful issue regular monthly or weekly enrollment reports.

I noted in February that enrollment in the ACA's Medicaid expansion program had increased by around 35,000 people across just 4 states (LA, MI, MN & PA).

It's early June now, so I checked in once more, and the numbers have continued to grow. I have the direct links for 5 states now (including New Hampshire)...

Of the 31 states which have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, only a handful issue regular monthly or weekly enrollment reports.

I noted in February that enrollment in the ACA's Medicaid expansion program had increased by around 35,000 people across just 4 states (LA, MI, MN & PA). By the end of March, the numbers in these 4 states had gone up by another 19,300.

It's the end of April now, so I checked in once more, and sure enough, the numbers continue to grow:

Of the 31 states which have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, only a handful issue regular monthly or weekly enrollment reports.

Back on February 28th I noted that ACA Medicaid expansion enrollment across three states (Michigan, Louisiana and Pennsylvania) had grown by about 35,000 people since mid-January, to 667K, 406K and 716K people respectively.

Today, a month later, I decided to take another look at all three states, along with Minnesota (which I forgot to check last month). Sure enough, enrollment has continued to grow in all four, albeit at a slower pace:

Over the past month or so, I've been tallying up the number of people who would lose their healthcare coverage if and when the GOP actually does proceed with repealing the Affordable Care Act, breaking the totals out by both County and Congressional District in every state.

While this project has received high praise as a useful resource, one problem with it is that the numbers aren't static--between the high churn rate of the individual market and Medicaid, as well as the fact there's no limited enrollment period for Medicaid (you can sign up year-round), the enrollment figures are constantly changing.

Case in point: As of the beginning of January, roughly 640,000 Michiganders were enrolled in "Healthy Michigan", our name for ACA Medicaid expansion. By the end of January, that number had increased to just over 646,000.

 

For the most part, Republican Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has taken a fairly hands-off approach when it comes to both the Affordable Care Act and Donald Trump. He pushed for both Medicaid expansion and a state-based ACA exchange, but while he managed to get the former through the GOP-controlled state legislature (albeit 3 months late and with a few conservative trimmings), he failed on the latter front, and pretty much shrugged it off after that. Since then, Michigan's implementation of ACA Medicaid expansion has quietly been pretty damned successful, with 646,000 Michiganders (strike that...it's now up to 666,000!) enrolled in the program...over 6.5% of the entire state's population. Beyond that, however, Snyder has been fairly quiet about the ACA overall to my knowledge.

Regular readers (and Twitter followers) know that for the past month I've been heavily pushing my state-by-state analysis projecting how many people I expect to lose their healthcare coverage if/when the Republican-held Congress follows through on their promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. As noted in that post and the various links within it, part of the projection is very specific and confirmed (ie, the exact number of Medicaid expansion enrollees), while the rest is more speculative. For one thing, I don't know exactly how many people will have enrolled in ACA exchange plans, because we're still in the middle of the open enrollment period; even then, the percentage of those enrollees who will be receiving APTC assistance is still unknown as well...and even then, not all of those folks will be receiving substantial subsidy assistance which would make or break their ability to keep their policy.

Right on top of Pennsylvania, the Michigan Dept. of Insurance has issued their final approvals for 2017 individual and small group market rate increases. As has been pretty typical this year, the final approved rates aren't all that different from what was requested; a little nip/tuck here and there, and the 17.2% average requested has been slightly trimmed to 16.7% approved for the indy market. Meanwhile, the small group average is barely noticeable: 2.6% requested, 2.5% approved. Unlike most states, the MI DOI has already done most of the heavy lifting for me, so I don't even have to use my own spreadsheet to calculate the weighted average.

Priority Health and Health Alliance Plan (HAP) is joining the "HMO only" crowd here in Michigan:

Following announcements by for-profit commercial carriers Humana and United Healthcare, nonprofits Health Alliance Plan and Priority Health are notifying agents they are pulling all PPO plans for 2017 from the Michigan health insurance exchange, Crain's has learned.

HAP has already announced it is pulling eight Personal Alliance individual preferred provider plans for individuals from the exchange and four PPO plans in the open market next year. HAP will continue to offer HMO individual plans on and off the exchange.

"We believe that these (PPO) plans do not represent the best value for the consumer," said Mary Ann Tournoux, HAP's senior vice president and chief marketing officer, in a statement. "At this time of cost-consciousness, we believe our remaining plans are the most cost-effective and offer our members and consumers greater value for their hard-earned insurance dollar."

Today is August 1st. I was hoping that most/all of the states still missing from my 2017 Requested Rate Hike project would finally make their rate filings public as of today, but apparently not (or at least, they aren't live as of 10am).

However, there's one rate request story this A.M....about Michigan, from my local paper, the Detroit Free Press:

Health plans sold on Michigan's insurance exchange could see an average 17.3% increase next year, and if recent history is any guide, state regulators could approve the insurance companies' rate hike requests without many — if any — changes.

The rate increases would mean a financial hit for taxpayers in general and the 345,000 Michiganders who buy their health insurance on the Healthcare.gov exchange, created under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

OK, regular readers know that I almost never write directly about Medicare-related issues (unless it's in relation to trying to figure out the total uninsured rate and so forth), and I've only even mentioned Medigap before 3 times in the history of this website. I honestly don't know much about the program except that it's basically supplemental insurance which covers treatment/services not already covered by Medicare.

However, this seems like a significant development for my home state:

Seniors can expect to pay an additional $48 to $177 per month on BCBS Medigap plans.

Nearly 200,000 seniors can expect to pay more for their Medigap supplemental health insurance plans next year -- for some older individuals, more than twice their current amount -- when Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan goes forward with a long-awaited rate increase that does away with what the insurer says are below-market rates.

Blue Cross today proposed the new Medigap rates that would take effect on Jan. 1, following a five-year rate freeze for its Legacy Medigap plan.

My home state of Michigan has finally published the "Part II - Consumer Justification Narrative" carrier filings for 14 of the 15 carriers offering individual market plans next year. The combined total number of current enrollees comes in at around 390,000 including both on and off-exchange numbers. Last year, Michigan had 560,000 people on the ACA-compliant individual market, so it's important to note that there's likely at least 170,000 people missing from this analysis. However, many of these are likely found here:

  • UnitedHealthcare is pulling out of the MI market (unknown number of enrollees)
  • Humana is dropping their PPO offerings only (1,717 enrollees, included in table)
  • Celtic, Consumer's Mutual, HealthPlus and Time Insurance are all long gone
  • While I have the data for "Priority Health Plan", their counterpart, "Priority Health Insurance Co." has an unknown number of additional enrollees...and an unknown rate hike request (I don't know if it just hasn't been added to the database yet or what).

It should be noted, however, that last year, "Priority Health Insurance Co." had only about 1/10th as many enrollees as "Priority Health". If that ratio holds up this year, that should only be around 9,000 people, which is unlikely to skew the statewide average up or down by much.

With that in mind, here's how the requested hikes shake out in the Wolverine state for the bulk of indy market enrollees next year:

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