UnitedHealth Group recently announced that it might leave the Affordable Care Act exchanges in 2017, and the Chicago community could be in trouble if this happens.
As the largest insurer in the country, UnitedHealth Group announced that it would very likely see significant losses on its individual healthcare plans during 2015 and 2016, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Just a month ago, the company had “expressed optimism about its exchange-related business” during 2016, the Tribune reported.
UnitedHealthcare, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, even expanded individual policy products from one Illinois county in 2015 to 27 counties in 2016.
However, UnitedHealth Group recently updated its national forecast and, according to Forbes, it is simply losing too much money because younger — and healthier — Americans haven’t been too keen on signing up for Obamacare. Without this population’s contributions, the insurer has been operating at a loss in 34 states across the country.
CEO Stephen Hemsley stated that the insurer is considering pulling out of the exchange because it now expects to lose at least $700 million by the end of 2015, and all because it has covered more than 500,000 through the ACA exchange.
“We cannot sustain these losses,” Hemsley said. “We can’t really subsidize a marketplace that doesn’t appear at the moment to be sustaining itself.”
Already, insurers have begun increasing premiums and deductibles in an attempt to cover the missing funds — and this is making ACA even more unpopular.
As Forbes reported, a family of four in Illinois can face premiums of $1,200 per month, plus an annual deductible of $12,700. In many cases, younger and healthier people are choosing to pay the tax penalty of $325 (or 2% of household income) instead of paying thousands of dollars for a plan.
If UnitedHealth Group does fold, it would put Obamacare in serious hot water.
With women’s healthcare in Illinois, for example, the shuttering of Obamacare could be disastrous. Illinois is currently one of 15 states with a law that makes it mandatory for insurers to cover infertility treatment and procedures, which is pretty significant considering that around 90% of all infertility cases are treated with (very expensive) drug therapy or surgical procedures.
Furthermore, as HealthDay recently reported, since ACA went into effect, more young women have received cervical cancer diagnoses in earlier stage.
Without ACA and its mandatory coverage policies, women may not be able to afford these basic — and often preventative — diagnoses and procedures.
Only time will tell if UnitedHealth Group can pull through and make it past 2017 — but if it can’t, then Obamacare may be forced to close its marketplace doors, too.