Doomed … ooops

The fact that United Healthcare was pulling out of most states on the individual market was a sign that the Exchanges and thus Obamacare (let’s forget about the very successful Medicaid expansion for a moment) were doomed.

There would be no competition and no one could make money on the exchanges.

Doom I tell you, Doom!

And then OOPS


Other insurers are submitting bids and prepping applications to expand into markets that United Healthcare is leaving.

Applying for approval in Kansas is a fairly low cost operation as a committment is not needed until mid-September but this means the build teams at Aetna and Medica had been working on these projects since last November and the decision to explore expanding was made last summer with numerous points where pulling the plug on the exploration could be done fairly easily and cheaply.

It could be competition is working the way it is supposed to work. Overpriced and undervalued firms leave markets that they don’t understand while new firms that think they have an interesting angle enter markets.

Was there a Scottish radical who wrote something about that a while ago… what was his name……

26 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    It’s Kansas. I think “doomed” is fitting.

  2. 2
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    Build team and “I Reject Your Reality and Substitute My Own”; someone’s been watching old Mythbusters episodes.

  3. 3
    gindy51 says:

    What will the latest ruling on the ACA do, the one where the GOP won in court by claiming the ACA has no right to pay insurance companies to lower premiums?

  4. 4

    Was there a Scottish radical who wrote something about that a while ago… what was his name……

    Scrooge McDuck?!

    (don’t joke. Scrooge may have been a penny-pincher but he invested wisely and understood the markets. Don’t forget, he made his money by being smarter than the smarties, and he made it square!)

  5. 5
    MazeDancer says:

    United HealthCare may have decided their other biz is too good to deal with individuals who aren’t on Medicare or part of a company.

    They are the provider for AARP’s supplemental policy for Medicare. Giant market. And in the NE, at least, they are huge in the corporate world. Especially for good coverage policies.

  6. 6

    @gindy51: short run not much as the judge has stayed the decision waiting for appeal.

    Long run the DC Court of Appeals will reject the suit on standing grounds and/or political question grounds. Then the Supremes will reject cert

  7. 7


    It still has to go to the Supreme Court, as I’m sure Obama will challenge it to that level for next year, and SCOTUS has been more favorable interpreting the law as a business regulation. What IS at issue is the Executive Order power Obama used to fund that portion of the ACA: Congress filed that complaint specifically to highlight Obama’s “Abuse of power” using EOs.

  8. 8

    @BillinGlendaleCA: build team is where I was for several years

  9. 9
    Mary G says:

    It’s odd that my Medicare supplemental policy, that I’ve had 10 years now, didn’t go up at all this year, even though I had a milestone birthday that in prior years cost a bloody fortune in premium increases. This is the first time that it stayed the same price for two years. What could account for that? Hmm…

  10. 10
    Chyron HR says:

    United HealthCare a shit.

  11. 11
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @PaulWartenberg2016: Back in the day, they impeached Presidents(well one in particular) for Abuse of Power, these wimps file a lawsuit.

  12. 12
    JGabriel says:

    Richard Mayhew @ Top:

    Was there a Scottish radical who wrote something about that a while ago… what was his name……

    OMG, Karl Marx was SCOTTISH?!?!


  13. 13
    buskertype says:

    when will WV get a second insurer?

  14. 14
    Keith P. says:

    Was there a Scottish radical who wrote something about that a while ago… what was his name……


  15. 15

    @buskertype: There is a second insurer in a couple counties I think, but this is where a public option or my cynical hack with big Silver gaps would be useful.

    — Just checked —Bethany WV (Balloon Juice World HQ) and Charleston WV both have two insurers (Highmark and CareSource) while Morgantown WV only Highmark.

  16. 16
    Mary says:


    Scrooge may have been a penny-pincher but he invested wisely and understood the markets.

    He kept all of his money in gold coins, which he stored in a giant vault. Not sure that qualifies as a wise investment, unless you’re of the Glenn Beck school of economics.

  17. 17
    rikyrah says:

    thanks for the info, Mayhew.

  18. 18
    burnspbesq says:

    United provides my company’s coverage. I am not a fan. I seem to be in the middle of a pissing contest between United and Novo Nordisk, and it sucks.

  19. 19
    Chris says:

    UHC is my insurer and they say they are exiting the NC (now with more toilet monitors!!) ACA exchange. I hope we are as lucky and have some other insurers entering. BCBS is the only other insurer that I am even remotely familiar with on the exchange. And anecdotally…I can tell you UHC definitely cut their own throat…it was no fault of the ACA they weren’t making money. My premium went down for the first time in 20+ years in 2014. Policy from BCBS was 900+ for 1 late 40’s male and 2 teenage boys. Almost same policy from UHC was 700.

  20. 20
    Karl Zimmerman says:

    Hey Richard,

    I’m a long time-reader of your entries. As my job tends to involve a lot of healthcare policy analysis, they have helped me quite a good deal in my professional life.

    I’m writing because my employer (a labor union with less than 50 employees) is seeking to switch from our currently outrageously expensive plan to a SHOP marketplace platinum plan next year – a switch I’m helping to research. It seems we can save approximately 40% off our premiums with the switch, but I have a few unanswered questions.’s call center is mostly worthless – I know more about healthcare regulation than they do. And the insurers I contact directly won’t return my calls.

    I can’t seem to find a direct email/message, but I’m guessing as a contributor you can view (or ask John to get) my email. Please get back to me.

  21. 21
    EBT says:

    @Mary: versus the Reagan economy maybe it was the wise investment.

  22. 22
    Prescott Cactus says:

    Who was Adam Smith ?

    I’ll take Hookers and Blow for $600, Richard.

  23. 23
    Shakezula says:

    And of course the libertarians will rejoice to know that other companies are coming in now that the 900 lb gorilla has left the room.


  24. 24
  25. 25
    Prescott Cactus says:

    @Karl Zimmerman: I am a member of a union with 1000 active members and many retirees and spouses & kids.

    We self insure thru BC/BS. Our claims Doc visits our run thru a staff (8) at the union hall and all hospital stuff is handled by BC/BS. CVS handles all the scripts. For scripts you take long term (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) you receive in 90 day allotments, paying for only 60 days worth.

    We have been doing it this way for 30+ years

    Your union could may get by with yourself as the administrator and a couple of claims handlers. I think the start-up costs for software and initial training might be pretty rough.

  26. 26
    buskertype says:

    @Richard Mayhew: huh… I didn’t know the marketplace was county-specific like that. anyway, still just HIghmark here in Randolph County.

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