Health Insurers Get Government Cash, Then Jack Up Prices

Oct 11, 2022
by David Sirota

Despite the Affordable Care Act’s promises, publicly subsidized insurers are jacking up prices while Americans lose coverage.
Health Insurers Get Government Cash, Then Jack Up Prices
(AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Back in 2010, Democrats sold the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to Americans as a way to both preserve a privately financed health insurance system and provide more affordable and expanded coverage.
Twelve years later, as health insurance companies report record profits, the opposite has happened: The nation’s major health insurance companies are receiving most of their money from the government, they just jacked up prices by double digits, and nearly half of the country is now underinsured or uninsured.
A new analysis from former health insurance executive Wendell Potter shows that six of the seven largest health insurers — Centene, CVS, Elevance, UnitedHealth, Humana, and Molina — now receive the majority of their health plan revenues from the federal government, while the seventh, Cigna, gets 42 percent of its revenue from the government. These revenues are fueled in large part by the growth of Medicare Advantage plans, the expensive privatized Medicare plans operated by private health insurers that often wrongfully deny care.
These figures do not even include the subsidies that insurers receive to help people buy individual insurance plans offered on state exchanges under the ACA. Under President Joe Biden, Democrats have twice expanded this ACA subsidy program, now until 2025. If Democrats move to authorize these subsidies yet again, the total ACA health insurance subsidy scheme would cost the public more than $800 million over the decade. Meanwhile, these plans deny nearly 20 percent of all in-network health claims.