Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Bails On ObamaCare After $500M Loss

In this Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014 photo, the headquarters of Blue Cross and Blue Shield is pictured in Eagan, Minn. After PreferredOne abruptly pulled out of MNsure, Minnesota's health insurance exchange, it left the field to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners, Medica and UCare as choices for …
AP Photo/Jim Mone

The partial withdrawal of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota from the ObamaCare marketplace, driven out by staggering financial losses, is another important milestone in the collapse of the ill-conceived and inaccurately named Affordable Care Act.

Providers have been bailing out of ObamaCare across the land, but not Blue Cross/Blue Shield providers.

It’s not a total departure from the market, as CEO Michael Guyette took pains to explain at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

In a sign of continuing tumult in the health insurance industry, the state’s largest insurer said Thursday it will no longer offer its traditional suite of flexible and broad-reaching policies for those consumers who don’t get coverage through the workplace.

Instead, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota will sell only health plans with a narrow network, which limits patient coverage to specific doctors, hospitals and prescription drug benefits.

The decision comes after the insurer experienced significant financial loses in the individual insurance market in recent years. It will affect about 103,000 Minnesotans, who will have to find a new health plan at the end of the year.

“It’s a very difficult decision for us,” said Michael Guyette, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, who described the move as a “refocusing of our portfolio” rather than an all-out exit from the individual market.

“The way that we were in the market was just not sustainable right now given all the instability, the volatility and all the change that continues to happen in the individual marketplace both on and off the exchange,” he said.

Only a small subsidiary called Blue Plus, with about 13,000 members, will remain fully active in the individual Minnesota market, while 103,000 Minnesotans who purchased Blue Cross coverage will be affected, according to MPR News.

Perhaps the full extent of the impact on customers must await further clarification, but it’s clear that a lot of people are going to lose, or abandon, their insurance plans, and the remaining plans will be “stripped down,” as the Star-Tribune puts it. It’s a hard blow to ObamaCare, whether it’s best described as a hard punch to the breadbasket, or a right cross to the jaw.

“By and large these people aren’t going to get employer-based coverage. If they’re not eligible for Medicaid or other public programs, then the individual market has got to be the way that we insure them. If the individual market doesn’t work, we’re not going to insure them. That’s my concern,” University of Minnesota health insurance expert Roger Feldman told the Star-Tribune.

This is, of course, the opposite of the way ObamaCare was supposed to work, and once again contradicts the many fraudulent promises made by President Obama and other advocates of the Affordable Care Act: more people would be insured, premiums would come way down, “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” et cetera.

An absolutely titanic amount of money was plowed into ObamaCare, with not much to show for it, while a large number of people have been inconvenienced and impoverished by the badly-written program’s many flaws.

Democrats are “addressing” those problems by telling their media allies not to point cameras at ObamaCare’s victims, while they shriek that ObamaCare’s critics are heartless brutes that just want to take health care away from poor people. Nominal improvements in the number of people covered are heavily touted – usually by dishonestly lumping Medicaid enrollments in with ObamaCare enrollments – while the people who lost coverage and access to doctors, and the soaring costs imposed on both insurance customers and taxpayers, are ignored.

Reality is swiftly overwhelming this cynical and supremely callous political strategy.

The full ramifications of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota’s decision won’t be revealed until the next open enrollment session in November, but the cause is drearily familiar.

“Not enough young healthy people have purchased insurance on the individual market, which would have kept premiums down overall. And after this year, insurers will lose a key financial safety net provided by the federal government to ease the transition,” the Star-Tribune explains, referring to the massive taxpayer bailout for insurance companies that was averted by congressional Republicans. Sorry, Democrats – you won’t be able to pick our pockets, hand bags of money to your insurance cronies, and pretend the system is sustainable for much longer.

Without those young, healthy suckers paying exorbitant premiums for insurance to prop up the system, Blue Cross lost $500 million on the individual market over the past three years, and $265 million in 2015 alone. The company ended up losing $178.1 million on $10.6 billion in revenue, according to the Star-Tribune. A gobsmacking forty-nine percent increase in premiums this year failed to shore up the bottom line, instead driving many customers away.

Buzzwords like “instability” and “volatility” flutter through every report about ObamaCare’s failure, as if the health insurance market went inexplicably nuts for mysterious reasons that ObamaCare’s architects could not have foreseen. The market wasn’t supposed to become more volatile after a multi-trillion-dollar statist takeover. We were promised the exact opposite would occur. There’s health insurance “instability” because it’s slowly dawning on all the players that ObamaCare doesn’t work, and they can’t hide it from the public any longer… just as a used-car lot would become “unstable” after the customers realize they’ve been sold a fleet of overpriced lemons.


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