One of the state's only remaining
"We knew there were struggles," Huckins said. "Each month, we watched our financials as we were paying the bills on rising health care and pharmacy costs ... it was getting concerning."
"But it's still a shock," her co-worker
Toren said there's still months of work to do as departments begin to shutter.
"I don't have plans after this," Toren said. "We still have members to serve through 2016, and with two weeks until [
"We'd set rates 18 months in advance, then a new drug would enter the marketplace that a number of our members needed," Huschka said. "That set us back financially on what we originally told CMS ... and we struggled with certain limits on how quickly we could recoup those losses."
After years of this balancing act, she said the business became unsustainable.
According to data released by CMS in 2015, health spending grew by 5.3 percent in 2014. That's compared to 2.9 percent in 2013 and 4 percent from 2009 to 2012.
While analysts predicted an increase in spending in 2014 due to the start of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a jump in prescription drug spending surprised many providers.
In 2013, spending on prescriptions grew by 2.4 percent. In 2014, that climbed beyond 12 percent.
Some national legislation on the table is attempting counter the costs, such as the
The bipartisan legislation requires the
Huschka said as prices grew,
The company reached its height in 2011 with 44,000 members. But that same year, five of the six hospital boards ended their ownership of
"We started our plan with very limited resources," she said. "But we grew, and at times had some of the highest star ratings ... So we're very proud as a very small team in a rural state that we still achieved what we did -- which meant we were able to serve our
Huckins and Toren sat on a couch in their
Toren said while the office can feel the same as they prepare for enrollment to begin, some employees have already found new jobs, which she said is a testament to the experience they gained at
"And that's great, they need to think about their families," Toren said looking toward Huckins. "But we'll continue to do our job until we don't have a job."
To review plan options, visit https://www.medicare.gov. To talk with a local
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