Varney Presses Obamacare Architect on Major Insurer's Exit From Exchanges
UnitedHealth, the biggest health insurer in the United States, has said it plans to exit most Obamacare state exchanges by next year, following losses expected to total more than $1 billion for 2015-2016.
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the chief architects of Obamacare, said on Fox Business that the announcement is not a sign that the exchange system -- one of the linchpins of the law -- is falling apart.
He said that UNH has "never been a big player" -- making up about 6 percent of the exchange market -- and is "not completely exiting the exchanges."
“Last year, you guys highlighted 39 insurers are leaving marketplaces," he said. "Turns out, 40 were joining but you didn't advertise that. The fact is, net last year for 2016 we actually had an increase in the insurers. And again, you're focusing on United, but you're not focusing on the others."
Stuart Varney cited an increase in premiums for Silver Plans -- the marketplace standard plan -- and tried to get Emanuel admit that "it's not going well."
"Where's an admission that maybe we should have done this or that?" Varney asked.
Emanuel responded: "Stuart, the fact of the matter is that for 2016, which is the only time we have premium data, the premium level went down in 12 states. The average after the subsidy premium was actually down, not up, across the country. So your idea that this is falling apart is simply wrong."
He emphasized that it's important to keep healthy people and big insurers in the market through continued improvements to the government's website and education, and risk corridors.