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 2015 Rate Hikes May Soon Come Into View

April 13, 2014

Health plans are in a bit of a bind. Insurance company executives tell Forbes they are asking for rate hikes they won’t yet disclose because they don’t yet know the mix of patients they are signing up for this year, complicating the rate picture for 2015.

If insurers get more young and healthy patients, it’s less likely rates will go up much. But they are still unsure about the makeup of health plan subscribers because the Obama administration allowed more than 400,000 people to sign up after the March 31 signup deadline in part because technical issues prevented consumers from completing enrollment applications on time.

via Obamacare 2015 Rate Hikes May Soon Come Into View.


Here’s How To Repeal The Employer Mandate And Cut The Deficit (And Then Some)

April 10, 2014

Based on my calculations (methodology at the end of the post), coupling a repeal of the employer mandate with a cap on the ESI tax exclusion reduces the deficit by between $371.1 and $366.4 billion from 2016 to 2023. (This is an 8-year estimate because the employer mandate only begins in 2016.)

via Here’s How To Repeal The Employer Mandate And Cut The Deficit (And Then Some).


Health Plan Premiums Are Skyrocketing According To New Survey Of 148 Insurance Brokers, With Delaware Up 100%, California 53%, Florida 37%, Pennsylvania 28%

April 8, 2014

PHARMA & HEALTHCARE 4/07/2014 @ 8:12AM 14,743 views

Health Plan Premiums Are Skyrocketing According To New Survey Of 148 Insurance Brokers, With Delaware Up 100%, California 53%, Florida 37%, Pennsylvania 28%

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Health insurance premiums are showing the sharpest increases perhaps ever according to a survey of brokers who sell coverage in the individual and small group market. Morgan Stanley’s healthcare analysts conducted the proprietary survey of 148 brokers. The April survey shows the largest acceleration in small and individual group rates in any of the 12 prior quarterly periods when it has been conducted.

The average increases are in excess of 11% in the small group market and 12% in the individual market. Some state show increases 10 to 50 times that amount. The analysts conclude that the “increases are largely due to changes under the ACA.”

via Health Plan Premiums Are Skyrocketing According To New Survey Of 148 Insurance Brokers, With Delaware Up 100%, California 53%, Florida 37%, Pennsylvania 28%.


What Congress’ Annual Doc Fix Charade Says About Washington

April 7, 2014

The same day President Obama recently heralded Obamacare’s imaginary successes in a Rose Garden ceremonial press conference, he quietly signed into law a very real $115 billion deferred tax increase on future generations.  That tax increase came in the form of additional borrowing to subsidize Washington’s worst habit: putting off until tomorrow what we should be doing today.

What Congress specifically put off – for the 16th time – was the unpleasant, but essential, task of fixing what is called Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate or SGR.  In plain English, the SGR is a policy President Clinton signed into law in 1997 that says if Medicare begins to grow at an unsustainable rate, payments to physicians will be cut to offset the growth in Medicare spending.  According to the law’s intent, Medicare’s growth rate will therefore be “sustainable.” Not surprisingly, it isn’t working as planned.

SGR is flawed on many levels but one thing Washington got right was correctly assuming Medicare spending would grow – a lot.  But Washington did what it often does when faced with expected unsustainable growth – it wrapped its good intentions around a policy (cuts to physician payments) – that had no real chance of ever being implemented.

via What Congress’ Annual Doc Fix Charade Says About Washington.


How Much Financial Assistance Are People Receiving Under the Affordable Care Act? | The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

March 29, 2014

Through the end of February, 4.2 million people had applied for and selected a plan through the marketplaces. As expected, the vast majority of enrollees (83%) have qualified for premium subsidies, since people who are not eligible for premium subsidies can buy comparable coverage with similar consumer protections outside of the marketplaces.  We estimate that about 21% of those eligible for premium subsidies have applied for assistance, with significant variation across states.Using the age and tax credit eligibility of enrollees reported by the federal government, along with the marketplace premiums within each state, we estimate that 3.5 million people have qualified for a total of about $10.0 billion in annual premium subsidies, or an average of about $2,890 per person.

via How Much Financial Assistance Are People Receiving Under the Affordable Care Act? | The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.


How Much Does Obamacare Rip Off Young Adults? We Ran The Numbers. Here Are The Results

March 28, 2014

Look at our numbers (laid out in the charts below) and you’ll see why so many Millennials have Obamacare sticker shock. Someone, for example, earning $25K annually in Arizona will pay $2,424 in total monthly premiums for Obamacare (10% of their annual income) and still be stuck with a $4,000 deductible and a $5,200 cap on their out of pocket costs. The same person in Illinois will pay $3,576 in annual premiums, and in low cost Texas $2,460.

What about the same 30 year old who now earns $30,000 annually – the average salary for a pre-school teacher according to census data? In Arizona, their annual cost for carrying the Obamacare plan runs $2,772 and their deductible is $5,000. In Illinois, the same person will spend $4,092 for the same health plan, and also have a $5,000 deductible before their full health coverage kicks in.

via How Much Does Obamacare Rip Off Young Adults? We Ran The Numbers. Here Are The Results.


Why I’m Jealous of My Dog’s Insurance – NYTimes.com

March 26, 2014

I’m happy he has such good health coverage. He’s my dog. And I’m jealous of him.

He has the kind of health care that I’d hoped the Affordable Care Act would usher in for those who, like my wife and me, have to buy health insurance on the open market. I’d long been frustrated at how health care shackles people to corporate jobs. I believed this legislation, signed four years ago this month, would free people to pursue their dreams, start new companies and not worry about the health insurance penalty.

What I didn’t count on was that it would make things harder for me and my wife.

via Why I’m Jealous of My Dog’s Insurance – NYTimes.com.


Affordable Care Act at Four: Regulatory Costs Exceed Benefits by Twofold | Research | American Action Forum

March 25, 2014

After four years of implementation, countless delays, a website disaster, and constant litigation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) celebrates its inauspicious birthday this week. From a regulatory perspective, the law has imposed more than $27.2 billion in total private sector costs, $8 billion in unfunded state burdens, and more than 159 million paperwork hours on local governments and affected entities. What’s more troubling, the law has generated just $2.6 billion in annualized benefits, compared to $6.8 billion in annualized costs. In other words, the ACA has imposed 2.5 times more costs than it has produced in benefits.

via Affordable Care Act at Four: Regulatory Costs Exceed Benefits by Twofold | Research | American Action Forum.


An Obamacare Fine on Overweight Americans: Discriminatory and Ineffective | The Health Care Blog

March 25, 2014

This is cause for serious concern. Not only does the change lend credence to a discredited approach to fighting obesity, but it in effect allows companies to punish their employees for pre-existing conditions, something that Obamacare was designed to avoid.

Worse that being simply ineffective, financial penalties for obesity have significant negative effects. They erode trust between employers and employees, prompting some workers to quit or suffer the genuine fear that the release of private health data will endanger their future employability.

These penalties also discriminate against the poor — many of whom live in neighborhoods with limited access to nutritional foods but plenty of cheap junk food available – and against people with mobility problems who are more likely to be obese. Large controlled studies show that increasing health care charges actually steers people away from essential medical care, exacerbating high blood pressure, worsening vision, and increasing mortality by 10% among low income people with chronic diseases.

via An Obamacare Fine on Overweight Americans: Discriminatory and Ineffective | The Health Care Blog.


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