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Will Medicare Add Long-Term Care Insurance? and Other Questions for 2021

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One thing no one predicted about how COVID-19 might affect U.S. health insurers is that no one dreamed that it could increase their second-quarter earnings by reducing patients’ use of ordinary health care.

Forecasters also had a hard time steeling themselves to predict just how much impact a severe pandemic could have on the world economy.

A student team supported by Swiss Re shocked the world in 2016, for example, by predicting that a pandemic comparable to 1918 influenza pandemic could cause about $4 trillion in economic damage. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers has estimated that the COVID-19 pandemic will cost the United States alone more than $16 trillion.

(Related: If HealthCare.gov Is Worth $17 Billion, What Does That Mean? Health Insurance 2020)

For our attempt to come up with five questions that might shape our coverage of the health insurance sector in 2021, see the slideshow above.

Here’s a review of the questions we proposed for the health insurance market for 2021, and how well those questions meshed with reality.

1. If HealthCare.gov is worth $17 billion what does that mean?

Value of Question: Poor.

Answer: No one was talking about that this year. But, in a calmer year, the question may get more attention.

2. Will the Affordable Care Act public health insurance exchange programs outlast the ACA?

Value of Question: Unclear.

Answer: Right now, the question seems to be irrelevant. If, however, the U.S. Supreme Court rules, in connection with Texas v. California, that all of the ACA must be thrown out, then questions about the implications of the demise of the ACA may suddenly be more interesting.

3. Will short-term health insurance policies turn into the next generation of individual major medical insurance policies??

Value of Question: Satisfactory.

Answer: Short-term health insurance got some attention this year, but sales levels are still not clear.

4. Will Haven Healthcare matter?

Value of Question: Good.

Answer: At this point, the Amazon-JPMorgan-Berkshire Hathaway-backed health benefits organization does not seem to be making much of a splash. Maybe that will change in 2021.

5.  Will states figure out a way to police health care cost sharing ministries?

Value of Question: Good.

Answer: Yes.

6.  Will life insurance companies become the health cops?

Value of Question: Good.

Answer: So far, it looks that way.

7.  Will the CVS-Aetna marriage work out?

Value of Question: Good.

Answer: Apparently so.

7.   Will discussions about adding long-term care benefits to the Medicare program heat up?

Value of Question: Good.

Answer: Yes.

— Read 7 Urgent New Questions About Health Insurance in 2019on ThinkAdvisor.

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