investors.com / ED CARSON / 01/10/2014 05:02 PM ET
Humana (HUM) said the “risk mix” of its ObamaCare exchange members will be “more adverse than previously expected,” the latest evidence that the health reform is attracting older, sicker Americans than originally projected.
The health insurer, in an SEC filing late Thursday, cited the Obama administration’s 11th hour decision to let people stay on plans that had been cancelled due to ObamaCare regulations. The White House was reacting to political anger of President Obama’s “if you like your plan, you can keep it” vow.
Humana made no mention of the administration’s late December decision to let people with cancelled plans avoid the individual mandate tax penalty in 2014. Those who choose to forgo insurance presumably will be younger and healthier.
The White House has refused to give any information regarding the age or health status of people signing up on the federal healthcare.gov site. Data from some state-run exchanges have suggested fewer “young invincibles” are signing up.
The ObamaCare exchanges need young, healthy people to make up a significant share of enrollees. If not, the plans may be more costly for insurers, potentially creating a premium rate death spiral. But the Obama administration plans to use “risk-corridor” and “risk-adjustment” payments to offset much of insurance companies’ unexpectedly high costs. Such taxpayer bailouts may keep insurers from hiking premiums in 2015 or simply bowing out of the exchanges.