Apr 21, 2017

Insurers took a hit from Obamacare, but it's been getting better

The Kaiser Family Foundation has a good reality check this morning on the "exploding Obamacare" narrative. Yes, it found, most insurers' financial performance got worse in 2014 and 2015, the first two years Obamacare was in full effect. But the insurers were starting to recover in 2016 — a sign that the markets could be stabilizing.

The bottom line: The analysis suggests that the insurance market was starting to climb its way out of a hole, not falling apart — but it also says the market could still fall apart because of the uncertainty over what happens next.

What it found: The two measures Kaiser looked at:

  • Medical loss ratio: This is how much of the money they collected in premiums got paid out for medical care. The percentages rose a lot in 2014 and 2015 before dipping in 2016.
  • Gross margins per member: This measures how much more money insurers collected in premiums from each person than they spent on medical care. It dropped sharply in 2014, and insurers actually lost money on average in 2015, but they showed signs of recovery in 2016.
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