Health Care Spending’s Recent Surge Stirs Unease – NYTimes.com

April 19, 2014

A surge of insurance enrollment related to rising employment and President Obama’s health care law has likely meant a surge of spending on health care, leaving policy experts wondering whether the government and private businesses can control spending as the economy gets stronger and millions more Americans gain coverage.

“Following several years of decline, 2013 was striking for the increased use by patients of all parts of the U.S. health care system,” Murray Aitken, executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, said in a statement.

report from IMS, a health care data and analytics firm, found use of the health care system increasing broadly in 2013. Americans made more visits to doctors’ offices, were hospitalized more often and purchased more prescription medication.

A separate report from the Altarum Institute, a nonprofit research group, also shows that health spending started to climb last summer. This February, spending growth reached a seven-year high.

via Health Care Spending’s Recent Surge Stirs Unease – NYTimes.com.


Obamacare’s high-risk pools are closing for real this time

April 18, 2014

The PCIP program was originally supposed to sunset at the end of December 2013, but it was extended until January as HealthCare.gov struggled. Then it was extended until March. Then it was extended until April 30.

That seems to be it for the extensions, though. Tanya Case, who heads a national association of high-risk pools predating the Affordable Care Act, said a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services official told her the program will end on April 30. Case said her organization doesn’t plan to request another extension. A spokesman for CMS said he didn’t have new information.

via Obamacare’s high-risk pools are closing for real this time.


Why Obamacare’s Enrollment Triumph Will Prove Fleeting

April 18, 2014

One factor that the CBO did not include was enrollees who leave the exchanges because their income shrinks thereby qualifying them for Medicaid. The U.C. Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education recently estimated that just under one-fifth of enrollees on Covered California would leave the exchange for Medicaid. Combined with people who left because they gained employer-based coverage, the Center found that Covered California would retain about 57.5 percent of current enrollees.

If that occurs across all exchanges,then the final enrollment number will be closer to 4.6 million.  Of course, not every state is California (thank goodness), so the amount of churn due to Medicaid and employer-based coverage will vary across the nation.  Yet those factors will cause the eight million figure to be revised downward as the year goes on.

via Why Obamacare’s Enrollment Triumph Will Prove Fleeting.


Is Arkansas’ “Private Option” A Block Grant? Insurance Expert Bob Laszewski Thinks So, But He Is Wrong

April 17, 2014

who have rejected ObamaCare’s misguided Medicaid expansion completely misses the mark. He contends that Arkansas’ “Private Option” is really just a block grant for Medicaid. But the truth lies in the fine print, and while there is no question the Private Option puts state taxpayers at risk, it also creates a new entitlement and ceded most of the control for the program to the federal government. It’s like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

via Is Arkansas’ “Private Option” A Block Grant? Insurance Expert Bob Laszewski Thinks So, But He Is Wrong.


UnitedHealth Says First-Quarter Profit Fell on Reform Costs – NYTimes.com

April 17, 2014

UnitedHealth Group Inc, the largest U.S. health insurer, said on Thursday that first-quarter profit fell due to costs and taxes related to the national healthcare reform law as well as government cuts to private Medicare funding.

The company said the costs related to the Affordable Care Act and the effects of budget sequestration last year on payments from the government negatively affected earnings by about 35 cents per share. Its Optum technology-related division, which has worked on the online insurance exchanges created by that reform law, continued to grow.

via UnitedHealth Says First-Quarter Profit Fell on Reform Costs – NYTimes.com.


How Americans Die

April 17, 2014

How Americans Die. Bloomberg visualization showing trends in mortality in recent decades by age, cause etc.


Higher Fines Compel Uninsured Americans to Sign Up

April 17, 2014

Uninsured Americans’ likelihood of signing up for insurance differs depending on the amount of the fine they would have to pay for not carrying insurance. At a hypothetical $95 fine level, uninsured Americans are as likely to say they would not get insurance (46%) as to say they would (47%). At a $500 fine level, the percentage saying they would get insurance jumps to 60%, but this percentage levels off at a $1,000 fine level at 62%.

via Higher Fines Compel Uninsured Americans to Sign Up.


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