UnitedHealth to pull out of nearly all Obamacare exchanges

United HealthFor the Wall Street Journal, Anna Wilde Mathews writes, “The nation’s largest health insurer said it would pull out of nearly all of the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges, signaling continued instability in the law’s signature marketplaces as they head toward their fourth year. After losses on the exchanges, UnitedHealth Group Inc. will pare its presence from 34 states this year to ‘only a handful’ in 2017, said Chief Executive Stephen J. Hemsley … . Overall, UnitedHealth reported a profit of $1.61 billion … Revenue climbed 25 percent to $44.53 billion.” Whew. I was just about to send them my antique coin collection.

It sure looks that way driving by in a car. Riham Feshir of MPR says, “Economic development along the existing and planned light rail lines in the Twin Cities is soaring past initial expectations, Metropolitan Council and St. Paul city officials said Tuesday. Original projections called for $7 billion in development along the Green Line over 30 years. But in roughly two years of operation its presence has already delivered $4.2 billion in projects, according to data collected by the Met Council.”

This week in bathroom news. For MPR, Emma Sapong reports, “Target will allow its transgender customers and employees to use restrooms and fitting rooms that correspond with their gender identities, the company announced Tuesday, joining the national debate on the topic. … Target said ‘inclusivity is a core belief,’ the ongoing debate prompted the retailer this week to talk to its employees about its stance.”

Meanwhile, at WCCO-TV Pat Kessler, doing one of his “Reality Check” segments says, “We could not find a single recorded case anywhere in the United States of a predator posing as a transgender person committing a bathroom assault. We did find a 2014 case in Canada. A man there pretended to be transgender and assaulted two females at a women’s shelter. He was later confined indefinitely to a security hospital as a dangerous sex offender and mentally ill. On the flip side, there is lots of evidence documenting violence against transgender people, including murder.” I’m waiting for someone to make the claim that transgender predators and the thousands committing rampant voter fraud are in fact the same.

You don’t mess with Wisconsin. The WCCO-TV story says, “At 5:45 a.m. Tuesday, a Wisconsin State Patrol trooper stopped a vehicle for speeding on westbound Interstate 94 in Eau Claire County. When the trooper made contact with the male suspect, the man pushed the trooper and fled on foot. After a short pursuit, the trooper returned to his squad and called for assistance. Several officers, including a K-9, responded to the scene. About 20 minutes later, the state patrol learned the suspect was in custody. According to authorities, the suspect stole a vehicle from a nearby residence and crashed shortly after. He was then held at gunpoint by the property owner until authorities arrived on scene.” Tony Cornish will have that story framed and on his office wall tomorrow.

Peter Cox at MPR says, “Two friends of 18-year-old Bobby Davion Collins said they were at a party in the St. Paul park when a melee of pepper spray and gunshots erupted, court documents released Tuesday said. The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office charged Prince Williams, 24, of Minneapolis and Rashawn Porter, 18, of St. Paul. According to the criminal complaints, both men told police they were friends with Bobby Davion Collins, who died after being shot in the head. … A woman told police she was there with her boyfriend, a member of the Forever After Money Gang. She said a group of men she knew as gang members approached her boyfriend, claiming he’d stolen their gang name. An argument ensued, and she pepper-sprayed several of the gang members. Then, the complaints say, someone swung a tree branch at another person, and men began taking out guns and shooting.”

The AP story says, “A Catholic priest who was deported to his native India after completing his jail sentence in Minnesota for sexually abusing a child is the subject of a new lawsuit against a diocese in India that allegedly returned him to ministry with Vatican approval. … [Rev. Joseph Palanivel] Jeyapaul fled the United States after he was charged, but was arrested in India and eventually extradited to Minnesota. He pleaded guilty last year to molesting one girl, whose name hasn’t been made public. Under a plea deal, charges of molesting Peterson were dismissed. Jeyapaul was sentenced to a year in jail, but was freed because he had served almost three years in jail fighting extradition and awaiting trial.”

You know this will be way too touchy feely for some. Solvejg Wastvedt at MPR says, “[St. Cloud’s Technical High School] school was one of the first in Minnesota to use the ‘Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports’ discipline program, also known as PBIS. The system uses prevention over punishment and while it’s been in the state for a decade, PBIS is getting new attention in Minnesota for schools looking for effective ways to deal with discipline. Schools using PBIS teach students how to behave just like they teach math and English. At St. Cloud Technical High School, students get behavior lessons during homeroom periods a couple times a month. The goal is to prevent bad behavior and reinforce good behavior.”

It warms the heart to see hedge funds taken care of. Also at MPR, Martin Moylan says, “A federal bankruptcy judge has approved a plan to provide $172 million to hedge funds and other creditors scammed by businessman Tom Petters. … [bankruptcy trustee Doug] Kelley says other Ponzi schemes weren’t as complex as Petters’. He said the Petters’ case was even more complicated than Bernie Madoff’s because of the 150 corporations Petters had. Most parties ripped off by Petters are recovering 10 to 14 percent of their losses at this point. Kelley said he expects to recover additional money to compensate victims. How much is unclear.”

The $400,000 peacekeeper. The Strib story on one of Minneapolis’ finest, by Libor Jany, says, “Federal jurors have cleared Minneapolis police officer Michael Griffin of most of the charges against him. Griffin was indicted last spring on nine counts of deprivation of civil rights, falsifying reports and committing perjury in testimony in two brutality lawsuits filed against him. He has been on home assignment after being relieved of duty since then. … The case, which comes at a time when aggressive police tactics is being debated nationwide, has raised questions about whether the department does enough to control officers who, like Griffin, have a history of brutality complaints.”

It finally begins. Another Strib story, by Jessie Van Berkel says, “Hempel Cos. has entered into an operating agreement to begin work on redevelopment of the former Macy’s building that spans a full block of downtown St. Paul. Construction on the vacant building could start next month … . The Wild will practice full-time at an ice rink planned for the building’s roof. The Macy’s redevelopment is anticipated to cost more than $60 million, about $8 million more than previously anticipated … .”

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Jim Million on 04/20/2016 - 08:36 am.

    United Health Exit Predicted Earlier

    Many readers likely don’t know that significant United Health profit comes from its broad Med Sup market share.

    For those who have noticed the structure of ACA (and MNSure) plans, they should recognize the close resemblance to Medicare plans in deductible, coinsurance and out-of-pocket structure. It’s a “no brainer” to simply use the Med Sup template to draft ACA Sup plans.

    These supplement plans are nicely profitable simply because the numbers are very easy for actuaries to work, given low-capped liability limits of low-end exposure.

    (Oh, for those ready to pounce on insurance company profits here, please also consider that United Health and others also provide many of those “good, high-paying jobs” so often bemoaned, the jobs that keep the middle class intact.)

  2. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 04/20/2016 - 08:39 am.

    RE: United Health

    The way I understood the law, all health insurance had to be marketed through the exchange which was only optional with respect to the states which chose to create them. Apparently, the law is only optional for health insurers in this respect. What’s to stop the rest of the health insurers from withdrawing from the Obamacare exchanges?

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 04/20/2016 - 09:47 am.

      Very little…

      and that was a major concern in the early days of debate and implementation of final structure. If we remember that insurance companies are regulated by individual states and their departments, the implementation dysfunction that did arise was in certain states, particularly a few Southern states, as I recall.
      In at least one case, I believe, one of those states was forced to lean very hard on one of its companies to participate against its better judgment, simply because that state had few other options with regard to carriers.

      Most all of that has settled down pretty well, except for the financial realities now coming through financial statements…as predicted (also derided) by many players in the early days of implementation. None of this is conspiracy, I’m sure, simply financial reality. We also know that premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket expense have risen greatly as originally forecast. We see this now in Medicare plans, as well.

      I know many people love to hate insurance companies (except when they receive claim payments), but those companies do know their business very well, and live by actuarial projections and market realities.
      Coming into the ACA world, UHG (Mpls) and Humana (Louisville) vied for #1 / #2 position nationally as health market carriers, both well-positioned in the Med Sup market and vying for the lucrative AARP segment.

      Unlike UHG, Humana’s history is strong in provider facility operations, especially hospitals. In 2015 Humana was purchased by Aetna, effectively making UHG #1 plan provider.

      ACA is here to stay, without doubt, but everyone should expect ongoing analysis, debate (and controversy) while realities become more clear and coinciding adjustments are made.

      These reviews and adjustments must be / will be a significant mission of the next HHS administration.

  3. Submitted by Jim Million on 04/20/2016 - 10:06 am.


    Some states, like Minnesota, decided to build their own proprietary exchange (MNSure here), while others opted to open their ACA markets to the Federal Exchange. Some state regimes (Oregon, I recall) were disasters from the start). Others have performed reasonably well in terms of outreach and enrollment of previously non-insured. Much debate has been broadcast about all of that as positive, and budget blowouts as negative. Minnesota certainly has been the sounding board here.

    We don’t hear much about the Fed pool, so that seems removed from local political banter. My guess is that regional disparities of “wellness” and “state economics” will (probably properly effectively) keep the ACA model one of state and regional segmentation rather than national conglomeration.

    I certainly propose this at least for the near planning horizon, simply because we are now collecting health and wellness data in a more uniform way to reveal true disparities by population segment and regional realities.

    To me, it’s not at all urgent to fully nationalize ACA, simply because each state does have a very good view of its demographic statistical base. The Fed Exchange has provided an excellent option for those states that, for whatever reason, cannot effectively operate their own program. That’s as it should be, I truly believe.

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