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    Health Care Reform:

    Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

    Health Costs Are Still Tame, Insurer Results Show


    Cigna sees “great progress” in processing claims for self-insured companies with from 51 to 250 employees, as well as more competition for that business. “Employers are seeing this as an attractive alternative” to conventional insurance, said Cigna CEO David Cordani. Employers who self-insure are exempt from the health law’s premium taxes, which are estimated to raise prices from 2 percent to 4 percent, as well from from some rules governing benefit levels.

    – Despite a victory this year that reversed imminent government cuts, Medicare Advantage plans — managed care for Medicare members — still face funding reductions required in the Affordable Care Act. Some once speculated these would lead to Medicare Advantage’s diminishment or demise.

    Not at Cigna. “Our expectations are unequivocally to grow our customer base further in 2014,” Cordani said Thursday. Not at UnitedHealth Group. “We remain committed to Medicare Advantage as the most valuable and fastest-growing Medicare benefit offering available to American seniors,” said CEO Stephen Hemsley. Not at Humana. “We continue to anticipate growth in individual Medicare Advantage membership in 2014,” said CEO Bruce Broussard.

    – Aetna’s Bertolini suggested he’s not prepared to accept Maryland’s final premium rates for Obamacare exchange plans as really final. Last week, Maryland regulators sharply cut proposed premiums for plans to be sold through the subsidized online marketplaces known as exchanges. Average premiums for Aetna’s plans were cut 29 percent. Asked by a stock analyst whether the company would sell insurance at those prices, Bertolini implied that the negotiations aren’t over.

    “We generally do not negotiate our rates with states in the [news]paper,” he said, declining to get into specifics. “So I would argue that the current information that’s in the public domain is in mid-process. We have not committed to the rates, nor will we see ourselves committing to those rates anytime at this point.”

    – Humana portrayed its expansion in Mississippi as a potential profit opportunity, or at least one that won’t lose money. After pressure from Mississippi officials and presumably Washington, Humana agreed last month to sell subsidized health plans in dozens of poor, rural Mississippi counties that otherwise might not have had any offerings sold directly to individuals and families through online exchanges.

    Thu, Aug 01 2013

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