Do you remember when President Obama promised that Obamacare would let you keep your health plan if you like your health plan? He said so over and over again before the Democrats rammed that horrid bill through Congress and he signed it into law. It’s a shame he had to sign the bill to find out what was in it. Today we find out that about 700,000 more Americans will lose their health plans.
Seniors enrolling in private Medicare policies starting this week are finding fewer options, as health insurers close down certain types of plans due to legislative changes and looming cuts to federal funding.
Cigna Corp., Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, several Blue Cross Blue Shield plans and others aren’t renewing hundreds of Medicare Advantage plans, which are Medicare policies administered by private insurers. The moves will displace some 700,000 beneficiaries who must find new policies, according to Humana Inc., a large seller of Advantage plans.
For 2011, the Kaiser Family Foundation said there will be a 13% decline in the number of Medicare Advantage plans.
The pullback is largely due to a 2008 law that required the plans to have networks of preferred doctors, with the idea that managed care could be less costly and aggressive marketing could be curbed. Some providers of traditional fee-for-service policies decided to close the plans rather than invest in networks. But some insurers say the federal health-care overhaul, which includes $140 billion in cuts to reimbursements for Advantage plans over 10 years, is a factor as well.
In the near term at least, consumers in remaining plans will see relatively flat premiums and richer benefits, the result of provisions in the health overhaul to pay for preventive care services and cover more drugs.
But over the longer term, insurance executives predict a continued tightening in the market.