Sunday, March 25, 2018

Why is 2018 the Year To Audit Your Healthcare Premiums? Because Obamacare Insurers Just Had Their Best Year Ever — Politico

This is from Paul Demco writing at Politico on March 17, 2018: 
Obamacare is no longer busting the bank for insurers. 
After three years of financial bloodletting under the law — and despite constant repeal threats and efforts by the Trump administration to dismantle it — many of the remaining insurers made money on individual health plans for the first time last year, according to a POLITICO analysis of financial filings for 29 regional Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, often the dominant player in their markets. 
The biggest reason for the improvement is simple: big premium spikes. The Blue plans increased premiums by more than 25 percent on average in 2017, meaning many insurers charged enough to cover their customers’ medical costs for the first time since the Affordable Care Act marketplaces launched in 2014 with robust coverage requirements. ... 
The POLITICO analysis found the Blue plans spent an average of 80 percent of premium revenues on medical costs last year. That’s below the 85 percent threshold that’s viewed as a rough benchmark for profitability, and it’s a 12 percentage point improvement over 2016. 
“They understand the risks of the market better now than they did at the start of the ACA exchanges,” said Deep Banerjee, an analyst with Standard & Poor’s who has written extensively about the marketplaces. 
The gains were particularly notable among some of the biggest insurers. Health Care Service Corporation spent 77.7 percent of premiums on medical claims, an improvement of 18.5 percentage points over the prior year. Similarly, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina saw its margin improve by just over 10 percentage points....