Medical Progress Report 18 | Health Savings Accounts Under the Affordable Care Act: Challenges and Opportunities for Consumer-Directed Health Plans

October 18, 2014

Initial skepticism from HSA advocates was understandable; but based on our current research, it appears that the Obama administration was true to its word and that HSAs at least for the moment remain widely accessible on public exchanges. The report finds that, far from becoming obsolete under the ACA, high-deductible plans are widely available—98 percent of uninsured Americans have access to at least one HSA-eligible plan. Moreover, these plans also make up about 25 percent of total offerings on Obamacare exchanges. We also found that they remain significantly less expensive than traditional plan designs, offering savings of about 14 percent, on average.

Nonetheless, our analysis indicates that it remains difficult for consumers to identify HSA-eligible plans and that much more could be done to simplify their administration and educate exchange consumers on their advantages and limitations.

via Medical Progress Report 18 | Health Savings Accounts Under the Affordable Care Act: Challenges and Opportunities for Consumer-Directed Health Plans.


The Right To Die

October 7, 2014

Loyal readers know that I have been critical of the claim that the health care systems of other countries are superior to our own. But this is one area where some other countries outperform us in spades. As I wrote at the Health Affairs blog:

  • In Germany and Austria, a cash payment is made to people eligible for long-term care — with few strings attached and little oversight on how the money is used.
  • In England and the Netherlands, the disabled and the elderly manage their own budgets, choosing the services and providers that meet their needs.

via The Right To Die.


Clearing The Air On Obamacare’s Enrollment Statistics

October 7, 2014

A case in point: millions of people with exchange coverage are being encouraged to sit this open season out.  Instead of struggling with another difficult enrollment process, they can simply have their current coverage roll over to next year.  Failing to check the plan options can be a very expensive mistake, which most people will not realize until it is too late.

By failing to look at the new offers, individuals can find themselves inadvertently paying far more than they expect.  The government is encouraging current customers to renew their current plans through auto-enrollment, undoubtedly to ease pressure on fragile exchange web sites.  Many customers will see significant price spikes if the plan they selected for 2014 loses its status as a “benchmark” plan—the second lowest-cost silver plan offered in the local market.

Since subsidies are tied to the benchmark plan, the premiums paid by consumers net of the subsidy depend both on the plan they select and where that plan’s premium ranks among the options.  A benchmark plan for 2014 could be underbid by a competitor, which could double the net premium paid next year by a consumer who fails to check the new prices.

Many people caught in this trap probably will not realize it until their checking accounts are overdrawn next year after a few months of unexpected and unnoticed premium payments.  If the Obama administration wants to avoid another black eye—and if they would like to avoid harming some of their most enthusiastic constituents—they should rethink a strategy designed only to make life easier for the politicians.

via Clearing The Air On Obamacare’s Enrollment Statistics.


Decompositions of health spending growth

October 3, 2014

The consensus finding is that technology growth is a if not the leading driver of health spending growth, though other factors play large rolls too.Another way to decompose health spending growth is explored in a recent study in Health Affairs by Martha Starr, Laura Dominiak, and Ana Aizcorbe. The authors examine the effects on health spending growth of disease prevalence, cost of care per case, and other factors that play smaller roles. They expand the findings of earlier work by Charles Roehrig and David Rousseau who showed that health spending growth between 1996 and 2006 was driven predominantly by the cost of care, not increasing disease prevalence, as shown in the following chart.

via Decompositions of health spending growth.


Revealed: The Secret Reason ObamaCare’s Insurance Options are So Mediocre – Amy Ridenour’s National Center Blog – A Conservative Blog

October 3, 2014

A just-released federal study reveals the secret behind the inferior insurance options presented on the ObamaCare exchanges.The small health insurance companies apparently are being driven out of the exchanges

via Revealed: The Secret Reason ObamaCare’s Insurance Options are So Mediocre – Amy Ridenour’s National Center Blog – A Conservative Blog.


Anatomy of a Juggernaut

October 2, 2014

Moreno suggests that the Obama presidency has brought this Progressive narrative squarely before the bar of public opinion. Enduring doubts about the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare,” conjoined with concerns about unprecedented levels of government spending, have shown that older notions of constitutional limits still animate at least some citizens. They demand a full hearing for constitutional arguments long after the political classes gave up on such arguments—nowhere better captured than in former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s dismissive response to a question about Obamacare’s constitutionality: “Are you serious?” she asked, with an incredulous laugh.

Our current situation, says Moreno, is that we occupy a “twilight zone between constitutional and unlimited government.” The political philosophy of the Founders is alive, if on life support. They were neither laissez faire libertarians nor statists, but constitutionalists. Their arguments are echoed today by Americans who believe that the U.S. Constitution has a fixed meaning that binds political actors, a meaning that is informed by a moral and political philosophy anterior to the writing of that document.

via Anatomy of a Juggernaut.


Obama in 2009: “You’ve Got Me.” Democrats Today: “Barack Obama? Never Heard of Him.”

October 2, 2014

Notably, voters say in hindsight that America would’ve been better off with Mitt Romney as president by a 45% to 38% margin.  And by a 54% to 44% margin, they say that Obama isn’t even competent enough to run the U.S. government. The news might only get worse from here for Democrats and Obama supporters.  To wit, his current trajectory is downward, not upward, given such conflagrating scandals as our hemorrhaging southern border and the IRS coverup.  Accordingly, we likely have not reached the nadir for Obama and Democrats generally.

via Obama in 2009: “You’ve Got Me.” Democrats Today: “Barack Obama? Never Heard of Him.”.


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