Amy Lynn Smith: Survey Shows The Newly Enrolled Are Happy About Their Health Insurance
A national survey conducted by PerryUndem for Enroll America provides some of the first insights into how people who got covered during the first Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period feel about their new insurance. Not surprisingly, they feel pretty darn good. The newly enrolled are four times more likely to say they are happy with their coverage than unhappy — 41% compared to 11%. 74% of new enrollees were very or somewhat confident they would be able to pay their premiums moving forward. The feeling that best expresses how the newly enrolled feel about having health insurance is “relieved.”
Although Republicans like Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg continue hunting for “horror stories” about the ACA, or Obamacare, they’re coming up empty-handed. Walberg asked about the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the center and the physicians responded that with the expansion of Medicaid [under the ACA] more people are coming to the practice instead of the emergency room. With improved access to health care, the new patients are getting better care for improved health.
The news surrounding the Affordable Care Act has been so good this week, it’s almost hard to know where to start. We could start with the fact that private insurers who skipped the exchanges now want in … or we could go with the fact, as expected, consumers are paying their premiums … … or we could talk about “Obamacare” cutting the rate of uninsured in New Jersey by 38%, Minnesota by 40%, and Kentucky by 50%.*
In all, a little less than a third of the country supports repealing the Affordable Care Act – the position Republicans have spent years touting as smart policy and politics. Looking at all of the good ACA news last week, Simon Maloy said, “We’re only six days into June, and opponents of the ACA have already had a terrible month.” For the health care opponents on the right, June looks even worse this week.
Health-care spending might not be growing so quickly after all. Earlier this year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis projected that health-care spending would massively increase in the first quarter of 2014. In the health wonk world, that inspired a lot of panic about the return of high health-care cost growth. Not only would that make health care more expensive for everyone, but it would further strain budgets at all levels of government. The good news is the latest federal data on health spending suggests that the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s initial estimates may have been wrong and could be revised downward. If that’s the case, health-care spending could still be growing at the same timid pace it has been for years.
For the federal government, the most promising news comes through Medicare. The latest data, as broken down by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, shows underlying Medicare growth, even after adjusting for temporary policies, is growing at just 2.5 percent. That’s more than a full percentage point below economic and beneficiary growth. Medicare, in other words, is growing slower as a percent of the economy and on a per-person basis. A percentage point might not seem like a huge deal. But if the trend holds, it could translate to billions of dollars in savings for the federal government.
Dan Diamond: In Every State So Far, More Insurers Are Asking To Participate In Obamacare
But the second year of Obamacare is bringing out more insurance carriers in New Hampshire. Not just one or two more—but four more. “New Hampshire residents have asked for options,” state Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny said last month, announcing the five plans that will participate in this fall’s enrollment period. “Choice is good for consumers and good for competition.”Sevigny may be the only state commissioner who gets to tout a 400% increase in the number of participating plans, but he’s hardly alone in seeing a surge on his state’s exchange. In every state that’s shared details thusfar, it appears there will be more choices in Obamacare, year 2: Michigan’s exchange is going from 13 participating companies in 2013 to 18 this fall. At least one additional carrier has filed to sell plans through Kentucky’s exchange.
Several more insurers may join the plans participating in Virginia, Washington, and Indiana’s exchanges. United HealthCare may jump into Georgia’s market. And the surge in carriers means that there will be many more actual options at the point of purchase, too. Peter Frost at the Chicago Tribune notes the number of companies competing on the Illinois exchange next year will inch up from six to eight—but the number of available policies will almost triple, from 165 to 504. Officials at HHS and the White House are thrilled by the growing turnout. “We are pleased to see an increase of insurers applying for state marketplaces,” a senior administration official told the Daily Briefing. “Where insurers compete for business, consumers benefit.”
Zack Ford: Obama Administration Announces Executive Order Protecting LGBT Employees Of Federal Contractors
The White House announced Monday that President Obama will issue an executive order requiring that all companies who contract with the federal government must not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The order, expected to be finalized in the coming weeks, is an extension of orders previously issued by past presidents — most recently Johnson — similarly banning employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin among all contractors and subcontractors who do over $10,000 in business with the government in any one year. The protections will reach over one million LGBT workers across the country, making it the single largest expansion of LGBT workplace protections in our country’s history. There continue to be 29 states that offer no employment protections on the basis of sexual orientation and 32 with no protections based on gender identity, but many LGBT workers in those states will now have workplace protections for the first time ever. As many as 43 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and 90 percent of transgender people have experienced some form of harassment or discrimination in the workplace.
One of the largest companies that could be impacted by the executive order is Exxon Mobil, which last month voted down LGBT employment protections for the 17th time. The company claims to have a “zero tolerance” policy on the books for mistreatment, but that does not have the same legal force or consistency as the protections shareholders have voted down each year. As many as 9 out of 10 voters believe federal law already protects LGBT workers from discrimination. Though this isn’t true, many of the country’s biggest companies do already have corporate policies prohibiting such discrimination. Businesses of all sizes have found that nondiscrimination protections are good for their bottom line, improving the recruitment, retention, and productivity of talented employees and appealing to a wider customer base. A new Human Rights Campaign poll finds that 63 percent of voters support federal LGBT employment protections.