Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Humana Exit

The Utah Health Insurance Exchange has lost a player. For one of the few existing exchanges that seems to have a future, losing Humana could be a lone wolf or it could be the start of a domino effect.

Humana’s departure comes at a time of great uncertainty for Utah’s experimental insurance marketplace, which was slow to catch on but posted steady gains in enrollment this year. State officials hope to preserve its unique design while receiving mixed signals from the Obama administration about whether that’s possible.

If Utah is looking to the clueless wonders in DC for guidance they are in worse shape than I thought.

Exchanges are the cornerstone of the president’s signature health overhaul. And though Utah is ahead of the game with one of two operating exchanges nationally, it needs tweaking to meet federal standards.

Participating is expensive for insurers, which have had to handle applications manually. “It creates a work mechanism for us that’s completely different than we have inside the company,” said Regence BlueCross BlueShield regional vice president Jennifer Cannaday at a recent advisory board meeting for the exchange.

The costs are significant, “they are not sustainable,” and they will require a technological fix that currently doesn’t exist, Cannaday said.

Paper applications at an online site?

Are you kidding me?

But “it looks bad” for a carrier to be a leaving, said Sweat, who hopes others don’t follow. Without Regence BlueCross BlueShield and SelectHealth, which own more than 60 percent of the state’s health insurance market, the exchange would cease to function, he said.

Also, Sweat explained that without Humana there are only three carriers pricing policies on the exchange, which could mean higher rates.

Obamneycrap will create fewer options for consumers, not more.

The declared goal of creating more competition and lower pricing is a lie. It will not happen.

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