Banking & Finance, Government, and Health Care

Insurer leaves Michigan health exchange, citing volatility

September 19, 2017
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One of the nine Michigan insurers that was planning to sell health insurance on the federal marketplace next year has reversed course, saying Friday that it won't do so due to market uncertainties and volatility.

The news came the same day a Michigan congressman announced that the state's major groups enrolling people for coverage will see their funding slashed by President Donald Trump's administration.

Detroit-based Health Alliance Plan — which covers the fifth-most number of people in Michigan’s individual market — said its decision to leave the Health Insurance Marketplace will affect 9,100 people. It pointed to uncertainties related to premium stabilization programs, enforcement of the U.S. health law’s requirement to have coverage and not knowing if the federal government will continue to reimburse insurers for providing required financial assistance to lower- and modest-income customers.

“Market volatility and uncertainties have made it difficult for insurers to effectively plan for and provide affordable individual health plans,” HAP President and CEO Terri Kline said in a statement. “We believe our decision is in the best interest of all of our members. As a nonprofit health plan with the mission of enhancing the health and well-being of the lives we touch, we need to be responsible with our members’ health care dollars.”

HAP will keep selling individual coverage outside of the government market. It had planned an average 24 percent rate increase across its plans next year — less than a projected 28 percent hike among all health insurers if Trump follows through on a threat to cut billions of dollars in subsidies. If the cost-sharing payments continue for deductibles and co-pays, an industry group estimates the premium increases will average about 15 percent.

Also Friday, Democratic Rep. Sander Levin, Royal Oak, said Michigan's two largest organizations that help people sign up for health coverage now know how much less funding they will receive in the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 — two weeks after the Trump administration announced sharp cuts.

Enroll Michigan will experience a 90 percent cut, from $1.2 million to $130,000. ACCESS will see a 36 percent cut, from $555,000 to $352,000. Enrollment will begin Nov. 1.

“These cuts will be absolutely devastating for Michiganders who are looking for assistance in enrolling in health insurance,” Levin said. “This is just the latest example of the Trump administration attempting to sabotage the (Affordable Care Act) — this time at the particular expense of the health of Michiganders.”

The administration has said the government hasn’t gotten much bang for its buck with ACA advertising and the navigator program. Of HAP’s decision to depart Michigan's government market, White House spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferre said “choices continue to vanish” because “Obamacare has failed to deliver.”

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