A country of a quarter-billion people is trying to provide health care for all – The Washington Post

May 19, 2016

In 2014, Indonesia, a sprawling archipelagic nation of 250 million people, began phasing in one of the world’s largest single-payer health-care systems. Two and a half years later, its government guarantees comprehensive health insurance for 165 million citizens and residents, with plans to expand coverage to the entire population by 2019.

Source: A country of a quarter-billion people is trying to provide health care for all – The Washington Post


Early assessment of competition in the health insurance marketplace | Brookings Institution

May 10, 2016

This report, requested by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation of the Department of Health and Human Services (ASPE), analyzes competition in the Health Insurance Marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in six states (Alaska, Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas). The purpose of the study was to focus on a few states that had one or more potential indicators of “insufficient competition”—such as few insurers offering plans, low enrollment, high premiums, inadequately informed consumers, or sparsely populated rural areas—and try to understand how competition was working in these markets and what might be done to make it work better.The report describes the findings for each selected state, discusses common themes across the states, and provides some potential remedies to improve competition. Following is a brief summary of why these states were chosen and what the field researchers found:

Source: Early assessment of competition in the health insurance marketplace | Brookings Institution


Medical errors may kill 250,000 a year, but problem not being tracked – Modern Healthcare Modern Healthcare business news, research, data and events

May 6, 2016

Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 250,000 people each year. But the problem is not being tracked widely, according to an analysis published Tuesday in the BMJ.

When a medical error results in death, the delivery of care issue that led to the death should be tracked, said Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine professor, Martin Makary and research fellow Michael Daniel in their analysis. But the problem is not currently reported explicitly as a cause of death to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or on death certificates. And it is not easily tracked through the diagnostic and procedural coding system used by hospitals and other providers.

Source: Medical errors may kill 250,000 a year, but problem not being tracked – Modern Healthcare Modern Healthcare business news, research, data and events


How Obama’s Economy Spawned Trump – WSJ

May 4, 2016

The only problem with the president’s lament is its chronology. The failure occurred much earlier, in 2009 and 2010, when Mr. Obama still enjoyed the support of a Democratic-led Congress he needed to move boldly. Despite campaigning for a national infrastructure bank in 2008, he didn’t insist on including it in the 2009 stimulus bill. He didn’t even publicly raise the matter until September 2010, when the midterm election was looming and the chance of enacting new legislation was effectively nil.

This was part of a broader strategic decision to move from his initial focus on averting economic disaster to other concerns—notably, the Affordable Care Act and carbon cap-and-trade legislation. Whatever balance of benefits and opportunity costs the focus on health care may have entailed, the months the House spent in 2009 on an environmental bill that never had a chance in the Senate were a total loss. The exodus of white working-class voters from the Democratic Party contributed to this loss of focus on core economic concerns.

Source: How Obama’s Economy Spawned Trump – WSJ


JAMA Network | JAMA | Eligibility and Coverage Trends in Employer-Sponsored Insurance

May 4, 2016

This Visualizing Health Policy infographic looks at eligibility and coverage trends in employer-sponsored health insurance. Since 2000, the share of workers covered by employers’ health benefits at both offering and nonoffering firms has dropped to 56%, with the biggest decrease among employees working for small firms (3-199 workers). Among people younger than 65 years, those with lower incomes continued to be less likely to have coverage from an employer-sponsored health plan, as has been the trend since 1999. In 2015, larger firms were more likely than smaller ones to offer health benefits, as were organizations with more higher-wage employees, fewer lower-wage employees, and fewer workers 26 years or younger. Most large employers offered coverage to spouses and other dependents, while fewer than half of these firms offered coverage to same-sex or opposite-sex domestic partners. Few firms took action in 2015 in response to the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, including changing some jobs from part-time to full-time so employees would be eligible for coverage.

Source: JAMA Network | JAMA | Eligibility and Coverage Trends in Employer-Sponsored Insurance


New ACA Study Considers What Happens When Generous Government Subsidies End | Mercatus

April 26, 2016

A large subsidy program that has helped insurers offering Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant coverage in the individual market expires this year. In 2017, for the first time, insurance premiums alone must cover expenses in the individual market. A new working paper released today by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University measures the importance of this subsidy program, sheds new light on insurers’ generally poor results in 2014, and discusses what likely lies ahead for the law.

The study, authored by myself, Doug Badger of the Galen Institute and Ed Haislmaier of the Heritage Foundation contains two key findings. First, insurers incurred substantial losses overall despite receiving much larger back-end subsidies per enrollee through the ACA’s reinsurance program than they expected when they set their premiums for 2014. Second, we estimate that in the absence of the reinsurance program insurers would have had to set premiums 26% higher, on average, in order to avoid losses—assuming implausibly that the overall health of the risk pool would not have worsened as a result of the higher premiums. Our findings raise serious questions about the ACA’s future, particularly when the reinsurance program ends and premium revenue must be sufficient to cover expenses.

Source: New ACA Study Considers What Happens When Generous Government Subsidies End | Mercatus


Five Things ACA Supporters Don’t Want You To Know About UnitedHealth’s Withdrawal From ObamaCare – Forbes

April 19, 2016

UnitedHealth is withdrawing from most of the 34 ObamaCare Exchanges in which it currently sells, citing losses of $650 million in 2016. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation report indicates UnitedHealth’s departure will leave consumers on Oklahoma’s Exchange with only one choice of insurance carriers. Were UnitedHealth to exit all 34 states, the share of counties with only one or two carriers on the Exchange would rise from 36 percent to 52 percent, while the share of enrollees with only one or two carriers from which to choose would nearly double from 15 percent to 29 percent.

Source: Five Things ACA Supporters Don’t Want You To Know About UnitedHealth’s Withdrawal From ObamaCare – Forbes


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