Aetna CEO Warns of Approaching Health Insurance ‘Premium Rate Shock’ in 2014 for Consumers and Others Under Accountable Care Act
Steep increases in insurance costs may leave patients with less money to cover deductibles and copayments for clinical laboratory tests
Next year, consumers and small businesses can expect what one health insurance CEO says will be, “Premium rate shock for 2014.” As this happens, clinical laboratories and pathology groups are likely to find it even more difficult to collect co-pays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket fees from patients who had medical laboratory tests performed.
The premium rate shock remark was made by no less than Mark Bertolini, the CEO of Aetna, Inc. (NYSE: AET). In his speech at an investor conference, he predicted premiums would rise by 20% to 50% next year before the government subsidies are applied. In some markets, rates could double, he added.
Aetna is not alone in seeking steep hikes in health insurance premiums. Blue Shield of California is seeking a rate increase of 12% to 20% for more than 300,000 individuals, The Los Angeles Times reported. These new rates would go into effect in March, the company said.
...For pathologists and clinical laboratory managers, such increases mean patients may have less money to cover deductibles and co-payments for medical laboratory tests. Labs would then need to invest more time and money in collecting these payments. Also, health premiums are likely to rise sharply for those clinical laboratories that offer health insurance in the small group market...
...No less an authority than Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, Inc., is predicting that consumers and employers alike will experience significant “premium rate shock for 2014” in the cost of health insurance and healthcare benefits. Financial analysts are pointing out that, along with the regular, expected annual increase in healthcare costs, mandates of the Accountable Care Act, which will take effect at the start of 2014, will further add to the costs of health insurance for many employers and consumers...
One reason insurance costs are rising is the requirement under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that older consumers can be charged no more than three times as much as the youngest consumers, said Robert Laszewski in his blog at Health Policy and Market... Laszewski predicts that individuals can expect a 30% to 40% increase in what they pay for health insurance. That cost includes premiums, deductibles, and copayments. He based this estimate on an informal survey of health insurers he conducted late last year.
...“But consumers who make less than 400% of poverty will have their premiums capped at a percentage of their income,” Laszewski observed. “So, anyone getting a subsidy will be insulated from the very highest premiums. Who will pick up the rest of the premium? Federal taxpayers... The formula spelled out in the ACA will increase the risk the federal government bears...
It is significant that two nationally recognized experts like Laszewski and Paul Mango are predicting significant—even dramatic—increases in what employers and consumers must pay for health insurance. To that must be added the higher deductibles, out-of-pocket and co-pay requirements that employers are instituting...
The clinical laboratory journal Dark Daily summarizes the effect on Obama's beloved "middle class", to wit: they're about to get boinked, hard.
It seems clear that “sticker shock” is about to hit many middle-class Americans. As a consequence, clinical laboratories should anticipate higher rates of bad debt from patients who are financially overwhelmed by all the increases in the cost of their healthcare.
As conservatives predicted, Obama, Pelosi and Reid all lied about Obamacare as they rammed it through Congress, sight unseen. Rates are going to skyrocket. Employers will drop coverage. Physicians will stop accepting Medicare patients. Insurance carriers will go bankrupt. Care, when you can find it, will be rationed. And the system is going to melt down, with the poor and seniors suffering most.
Obama lied -- and people will die. Obamacare is an Angel of Death hovering over the very fabric of this society.
Hat tip: BadBlue News.