Earnings season continues
FEB 24, 2017 | BY ALLISON BELL
Scott Flanders, the chief executive officer of eHealth Inc., said today that he thinks the Trump administration wants to shut down HealthCare.gov
Former President Barack Obama's U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set up HealthCare.gov to provide Affordable Care Act exchange administration services for states that are unwilling or unable to handle ACA exchange enrollment services themselves.
"I've heard from two senior officials in the administration that it is their ambition to shut down HealthCare.gov," Flanders told securities analysts today during conference call.
Even if HealthCare.gov continues to operate, it might become a health plan information site, rather than an enrollment and e-commerce site, Flanders said. Once more people realize that running HealthCare.gov costs $1.9 billion per year, pressure to revamp it is likely to increase, Flanders predicted.
Flanders' company, the Mountain View, California-based parent of eHealthInsurance.com, held the conference call to go over fourth-quarter earnings. The company reported a net loss of $17 million for the quarter on $44 million in revenue, compared with a net loss of $12 million on $50 million in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2015.
The number of relationships with Medicare plan enrollees increased 33 percent, to 304,900, but the number of relationships with users of commercial individual major medical coverage fell 28 percent, to 360,600.
Flanders said policymakers have to make big changes soon if they want to see insurers offer commercial individual coverage in 2018.
The market has started to collapse, and the collapse is accelerating, Flanders said. Already, he said, eHealthInsurance.com has no individual products to offer consumers in some markets.
Carriers are still leaving the individual market, and some of the remaining players have stopped paying commissions on sales of individual products because the business is so unprofitable, Flanders said.
"If no action were to be taken in this market, there won't be one for the 2018 enrollment year," Flanders said. But Flanders said he is optimistic about how the Trump administration will respond to the problems.
The administration is "highly oriented to eliminating waste and government interference with the private sector," Flanders said.
Managers of HealthCare.gov have had a complicated relationship with web brokers, and Flanders said a shift of HealthCare.gov out of the health insurance sales business should be good for eHealth. For now, Flanders said, eHealth is trying to focus on increasing sales of Medicare plans and of coverage to employers with 20 or fewer employees.