Apr 7, 2017

Obamacare isn't in a death spiral, but it could be ruined by uncertainty

AP file photo

That's the message of a new analysis by S&P Global, which acknowledges that the Affordable Care Act marketplaces are "fragile" but undercuts the narrative that they're falling apart. The two key sentences:

  • The financial results for Blue Cross Blue Shield plans from 2016, and the enrollment for this year, "show that the ACA individual market is not in a 'death spiral.'"
  • "Every time something new (and potentially disruptive) is thrown into the works, it impedes the individual market's path to stability."

That might be a surprise to everyone who's heard of the double-digit rate hikes for most Obamacare plans last year. But the S&P Global analysts said they've always expected a "five-year path to stability," and that "2016 was year 3." It predicted that there will be more rate hikes for next year, but "at a far lower clip."

Yes, but: That puts them at odds with the Department of Health and Human Services, which circulated statistics earlier Friday showing that premiums and deductibles have been rising since 2014, and insurers have been bailing out.

What insurers will need: Clarity on whether they'll be paid for the Obamacare cost-sharing subsidies, whether the Trump administration will enforce the individual mandate, and whether it will advertise next year's enrollment. "If insurers are uneasy regarding the future of the market, they may have to decide between adding an 'uncertainty buffer' to their pricing or — worst case — exiting the exchanges altogether."

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 745,308 — Total deaths: 35,307 — Total recoveries: 156,875.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 143,672 — Total deaths: 2,575 — Total recoveries: 4,865.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30 — Hospital ship the USNS Comfort arrives in Manhattan.
  4. Business latest: Macy's will furlough the majority of it's workers this week, as the chain's stores remain closed.
  5. World updates: Spain and Italy extend lockdown deadlines while Italy becomes second country to surpass 100,000 confirmed cases.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Living with the coronavirus
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Majority of governors order residents to stay home

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

At least 29 state governors have ordered their residents to stay home to promote social distancing and limit community spread from the coronavirus pandemic as the U.S. copes with more than 144,000 positive cases — more than any other country in the world, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: COVID-19 killed over 2,500 people in the U.S. by Monday. That's far fewer than in Italy, where over 10,700 people have died — accounting for a third of the global death toll. The number of people who've recovered from the virus in the U.S. exceeded 4,800.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 21 mins ago - Health

Maryland becomes latest state to issue coronavirus stay-at-home order

Data: Axios reporting; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday he is ordering residents to stay at home effective 8 p.m. due to the coronavirus, except for those engaged in essential services, including health care and government functions.

The big picture: Maryland is the latest state to announce policies to enforce social distancing, which have affected almost 250 million Americans. More than 1.5 billion people worldwide had been asked to stay home as of last week.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 50 mins ago - Health