Posts Tagged ‘premiums

09
Sep
14

ObamaCare: Still Standing Strong

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Paul Krugman: Obamacare Life Spiral

Imagine taking a time machine back to 2010 and telling Republicans in Congress, who were arguing that the CBO was wildly underestimating Obamacare’s cost, that the law would be cheaper than predicted and, at least in the states that accepted its Medicaid dollars, cover more people than the Congressional Budget Office thought. After the laughing and mocking and the calling of security, let’s say you offered this prediction in the form a of a bet. What odds do you think Obamacare’s critics would have offered? 2:1? 5:1? 10:1? But you don’t have to go back to 2010. Look at John Cochrane in late 2013, taking it for granted that Obamacare would implode in a death spiral within a few months. Look at The Hill just four months ago, telling us that double-digit premium hikes were coming.

One question we might ask here is, why is the news so good? The answer, I’d suggest — although I hope the real experts will weigh in — is that we’re actually seeing the opposite of a death spiral; call it a life spiral. For one thing, the huge surge in enrollments late in the day meant that the risk pool this year is better than insurers expected, and they now expect 2015 to be better still. Also, importantly, big enrollments mean that more insurers are entering the market, increasing competition. And, of course, the better the deal the more people will sign up: success feeds success.

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Kaiser Family Foundation: Premiums Set To Decline Slightly For Benchmark ACA Marketplace Insurance Plans In 2015

An early look at the cost of health insurance in 16 major cities finds that average premiums for the benchmark silver plan – the one upon which federal financial help under the Affordable Care Act to consumers is based – will decrease slightly in 2015. The new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation analyzes premiums in the largest cities in 15 states and the District of Columbia where information from rate filings is available. Premiums for the second-lowest cost silver plan for individuals

will fall by an average of 0.8 percent from current levels in these cities when open enrollment begins on Nov. 15, according to the study. The analysis finds that the premium for the second-lowest-cost silver plan is decreasing in 7 of the 16 areas studied – but also that changes in average premiums will vary considerably across areas. At least two insurers will offer coverage through the marketplaces in the major city in each of the 15 states studied and D.C. Most areas will have five or more insurers, and three will have 10 or more.

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13
Aug
14

ObamaCare Is Not Collapsing And That Makes The GOP Mad

Image: Supreme Court Upholds Obama's Affordable Care Act

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Joshua Green: Dire Obamacare Prediction Falls Hilariously Flat

The story of Obamacare over the last year has in many ways been a story about how the various claims made by conservatives about why the law would collapse have systematically fallen apart as the Affordable Care Act has gone into effect. The website debacle was so bad that nobody was going to sign up. Actually, lots of people signed up. The net number of people insured was going to go down, not up, because Obamacare would force insurers to cancel their plans.

Nope, the uninsured rate has gone down. One of the scariest claims was that premiums were going to shoot up because only the sick and the old would sign up. Back in March, the Hill published a representative story under the headline, “O-Care Premiums to Skyrocket.” Here we are five months later, and those insurance officials have begun reporting their premium increases for next year. To put it mildly, those increases do not seem to fit the definition of “skyrocketing.”

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Wendell Potter: Dire Predictions About Doctor Shortage Post-Obamacare Haven’t Panned Out

Among the many predictions of Obamacare-related catastrophe was that the law, by enabling millions to join the ranks of the insured, would force us all to wait longer to see a doctor and very possibly lead to a code blue for U.S. health care. “Doctor shortage, increased demand could crash health care system,” A CNN report warned last October. A few months earlier, a Forbes headline predicted that, “Thanks to Obamacare, a 20,000 Doctor Shortage Is Set to Quintuple.”To find out if the critics’ were prescient or way off base, Kaiser Health News reporter Phil Galewitz went looking for problems. He didn’t find many. “Five months into the biggest expansion of health coverage in 50 years,” he wrote after interviewing officials from more than two dozen health centers and multi-group practices across the country, “there are few reports of patients facing major delays getting care.”

One reason the system has not been overwhelmed is that, although we might not have as many doctors as some think we should have, we do have a rapidly growing supply of mid-level medical providers — like physician assistants and nurse practitioners — who now treat many of our health problems. It probably won’t be long before most of us are treated — and treated just fine — by a well-trained professional who doesn’t have an M.D. after his or her name. A couple of weeks ago, I sustained an injury that my wife felt was serious enough that I should either go to the ER or see my doctor. When I called my doctor’s office, I was told that while the doctor was on vacation, a nurse practitioner could see me right away. And she did. And I lived to tell about it.

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08
Aug
14

ObamaCare: Helping Millions? ✓ Strengthening Medicare? ✓

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Alex Wayne: Medicare Reduces Payments For 2015 Hospital Admissions

Medicare, the U.S. program for the elderly and disabled, said payments for hospital admissions would fall $756 million next year as penalties stiffen for patients who return too early. Payments for inpatient services at about 3,400 acute-care hospitals will be cut about 0.6 percent in 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a regulatory filing,

including reductions in funding for hospitals who provide care for many low-income patients, those with too many patients who contract infections while admitted and higher penalties for readmissions within 30 days. The Obama administration has applauded reduced Medicare spending for hospital admissions, a trend encouraged by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that has added 13 years to the life of Medicare’s key trust fund.

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Tony Carrk: Conservatives Want You To Pay More For The Health Plan You Like

The Affordable Care Act, or ACA, is working: The uninsured rate has fallen dramatically since the law went into effect. Newly released data published in The New England Journal of Medicine show that 10.3 million adults gained coverage during the first open enrollment period. According to a recent Commonwealth Fund survey, 60 percent of those with new coverage said they used their coverage to go to the doctor or hospital or to fill a prescription; 62 percent of those people said they would not have been able to do so without their new coverage. Moreover, of those who were looking for a doctor, two-thirds said they were able to get an appointment within two weeks. People are happy with their coverage. Overall, 78 percent of those surveyed said they were either somewhat

satisfied or very satisfied with their new coverage. This is about the same rate as those reported by both people who were previously insured and by those who newly gained coverage. Even 74 percent of self-identified Republicans reported being satisfied with their coverage. The ACA has not only led to millions of Americans getting health care coverage, but it has also benefited the country as a whole. Earlier this month, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, reported that the ACA is helping slow the growth rate of health care costs, which has positive consequences for the federal budget. It is also helping strengthen the solvency of Medicare.

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The New England Journal Of Medicine: Health Reform And Changes In Health Insurance Coverage In 2014

In this analysis of nationally representative survey data from January 2012 through June 2014, we found a significant decline in the uninsured rate among nonelderly adults that coincided with the initial open-enrollment period under the ACA. These changes remained highly significant after adjustment for potential confounders such as employment, demographic characteristics, and income. As compared with the baseline trend, the uninsured rate declined by 5.2 percentage points by the second quarter of 2014, a 26% relative decline from the 2012–2013 period. Combined with 2014 Census estimates of 198 million adults 18 to 64 years of age, this corresponds to 10.3 million adults gaining coverage, although depending on the model and confidence intervals,

our sensitivity analyses imply a wide range from 7.3 to 17.2 million adults. Absolute gains were largest among young adults and Hispanics, two groups with high uninsured rates at baseline. We found evidence that within the first 6 months of gaining insurance, more adults reported having a personal doctor and fewer had difficulties paying for medical care — even though the latter measure asked about the prior 12 months. These results are consistent with studies of previous insurance expansions that have shown that gains in coverage can lead to rapid improvements in access. In conclusion, we found that the number of Americans without health insurance declined significantly since the ACA open-enrollment period began in October 2013.

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27
Jun
14

ObamaCare: Less Than The Price Of Cable

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German Lopez: Millions Of Americans Are Paying Less For Obamacare Than Cable

Subsidized shoppers on HealthCare.gov are paying, on average, $82 monthly premiums for health plans, new data from the US Department of Health and Human Services shows. The report, published Wednesday, is the most in-depth look available so far at the prices that federal marketplace shoppers will pay for private health coverage. It shows the vast majority of shoppers will use federal subsidies to pay for insurance, significantly reducing their monthly price tag. Senior HHS officials, in a conference call with reporters Tuesday, emphasized the report’s findings to show that Obamacare is keeping prices low for shoppers and bringing new competition to the insurance markets.

To the Obama administration, the report is more evidence the health-care law is working as intended. About 87 percent of subsidized HealthCare.gov shoppers had at least part of their premium covered with tax credits, which are available to low and middle-income Americans. How much shoppers paid depended largely on how generous of an insurance plan they selected. After accounting for subsidies, enrollees paid an average of $69 per month for the least-generous bronze plan to an average of $220 per month for the most-generous platinum plan. As a result of the subsidies, about two-thirds of HealthCare.gov shoppers who qualified for tax credits are paying $100 or less each month for health insurance.

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German Lopez: Gallup: Most Newly Insured Americans Used Obamacare’s Exchanges

One in 20 Americans report being newly insured in 2014, and more than half of the newly insured say they obtained health insurance through Obamacare’s exchanges, according to new data from Gallup. Gallup previously found the nation’s uninsured rate remains at 13.4 percent after a peak of 18 percent last year. That finding, along with the new data, suggests that Obamacare helped millions of Americans gain health insurance after open enrollment began last October.

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18
Jun
14

The Affordable Care Act Lives Up To Its Name

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Columbus Dispatch: Obamacare Premiums Average $80 A Month

People who signed up for coverage under President Barack Obama’s health-care law are paying about $80 a month in premiums on average, the administration reported yesterday. The new numbers from the Health and Human Services Department cover only the 36 states where the federal government took the lead in setting up new insurance markets, accounting for about 5.4 million of the 8 million people who signed up nationally. Major states like California and New York were not included, but that might not affect national averages by much. The law limits what people pay for a benchmark plan to a fixed share of their income, regardless of where they live.

Among the major findings: • Taxpayers are subsidizing 76 percent of the average monthly premium in the 36 federally administered markets. • The average premium is $346 a month, but the typical enrollee pays just $82. Tax credits averaging $264 a month cover the difference. The government pays the subsidy directly to insurers. • After tax credits, Mississippians paid the least for coverage — averaging just $23 a month on average premiums of $438.

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Alex Walsh: Obamacare Side Effect: Alabama Medicaid Enrollment Goes Over 1 Million Due To Awareness, Rule Changes

Alabama has so far rejected the federal government’s proposal to expand Medicaid. Regardless, the Affordable Care Act still had the effect of increasing the size of Alabama’s Medicaid rolls. Medicaid enrollment in Alabama jumped up noticeably in January 2014, from around 970,000 to just over 1 million. Part of the reason behind the increase was a rule change enacted by the Affordable Care Act. The ACA required the state to transfer about

23,000 children from ALL Kids (Alabama’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP) over to the Medicaid rolls. Health care analysts also say that the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act brought a new wave of attention to health insurance, motivating many Americans to check their eligibility for various existing programs. This effect has been called “wood working” by some organizations, including Kaiser.

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Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Letter To The Editor: Affordable Care Act Feels Like I Won The Lottery

I must add my so so appreciative voice to all the press about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I must say it is the best thing that has come along in my lifetime since “sliced bread.” My husband and I paid $14,520 in premiums alone this year for very high deductible policies. The ACA is allowing the premium cost to stay within 9.5 percent of your income if you are in the 400 percent above poverty income range. Our premiums were well above that percentage of our income.

This high premium stuff with riders and coinsurance has been going on for us since 2007 when we lost our group coverage, with hugely increasing premiums every year. Before we got any help from insurance our out-of-pocket would have been $30,000. Our joined premium per month will be $660 and our maximum out-of-pocket for care will be $3,250 each. I feel like I won the lottery: no riders and no preexisting Blue Cross policies with nationwide providers.

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