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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."

Go deeper

5 mins ago - Health

Meta removes over 600 accounts linked to COVID disinformation effort by China

Facebook's corporate headquarters campus in Menlo Park, California. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Meta announced Wednesday it has removed over 600 Facebook and Instagram accounts linked to a Chinese influence operation that claimed the U.S. was pressuring the World Health Organization (WHO) to blame COVID on China.

Why it matters: Though Meta said the network was unsuccessful, it marks yet another COVID disinformation campaign instigated by China in an effort to discredit the U.S.

Stacey Abrams launches second campaign for Georgia governor

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

Stacey Abrams, voting rights activist and former 2018 candidate for Georgia governor, is running for the position again in 2022. Abrams would be the first Black female governor in the country.

Why it matters: Abrams caught national attention in 2018 by narrowly losing an election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a state held firmly by the GOP for nearly two decades.

First known U.S. case of Omicron variant identified in California

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during the daily briefing at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The first known U.S. case of the Omicron variant was detected in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: The confirmed case was detected in a traveler returning from South Africa who was fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms, according to the CDC.