Patrick Ishmael

Earlier today I wrote about how government-backed insurance cooperatives around the country have begun to fail. The reason? Dollars and cents. The cooperative plans were not financially sustainable, and since they could neither substantively raise prices nor get the government bailout they expected, these plans—predictably—folded.

 

Missouri doesn’t have a “cooperative” plan, but it does have what amounts to for-profit equivalents experiencing adverse selection problems nearly identical to those of the co-ops. How are these Missouri insurance plans dealing with these financial problems? Rate hikes, of course.

 

New data for the 37 states that use the federal HealthCare.gov marketplace, rather than run their own exchanges, suggest that premiums for next year will be going up far more in the Kansas City area than in many other large cities.

 

The monthly premium for the benchmark silver plan will increase by an average of 6.3 percent for the 30 cities included in the new data from the Department of Health and Human Services. But in the Kansas City area, premiums for that plan will jump by 20.1 percent next year.

 

. . . Rates appear to have escalated in Kansas City because Coventry, which had the second-lowest-priced silver plan this year, raised its rates for 2016 by an average of more than 25 percent, said Ron Rowe, vice president for sales of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.

 

Simply telling people they have coverage is not the answer to America’s health care policy problems—a fact the ever-growing list of failed and failing Obamacare insurance plans bears out. Until we get a handle on the cost of health care as a country, it will be very difficult to substantively guarantee access to care to the people who need it most, whether in the private market or in a welfare program like Medicaid. We can, and must, do better.

About the Author

Patrick Ishmael
Director of Government Accountability

Patrick Ishmael is the director of government accountability at the Show-Me Institute.