What We're Reading: UnitedHealth Losses on ACA Plans Steepen

January 20, 2016

What we're reading, January 20, 2016: UnitedHealth losses on Obamacare health plans steepen; more "skin in the game" doesn't necessarily result in savvier shoppers; and despite recommendations few high school students are tested for HIV.

Last year, UnitedHealth made the surprising announcement that it was considering pulling back from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance exchanges in 2017 due to steep losses. Now, the damage has worsened. The company has projected deeper losses due to growing enrollment, reported The Wall Street Journal. UnitedHealth has made efforts to reduce sign-ups, but regardless, it is expecting losses of more than $500 million on its 2016 ACA plans. The exchange plans represent just a small part of the company’s total business.

Increasing patients’ “skin in the game” does not necessarily lead to savvier consumers. Researchers questioned people about what factors impact their decisions and found even when people have more responsibility for their health costs, they aren’t any more likely to shop around or consider costs, according to Kaiser Health News. Part of the issue, is that it is still difficult for consumers to compare prices when shopping.

Despite recommendations from CDC, the rate of high school students who should have been tested for HIV but haven’t been hasn’t budged over 8 years. Fewer than one-fourth of high school students who have had sex have been tested, because some teens underestimate their risk and their physicians are unaware of the recommendations, reported The Washington Post. CDC recommends yearly HIV testing for high-risk patients, such as those with multiple sex partners—15% of high school students report having at least 4 partners—gay or bisexual boys and men, and injection drug users.