What’s the True Cost of Health Insurance Under Obamacare: eHealth Launches First National Health Insurance Price Index

An advertisement posted on the Wall Street Journal’s online edition announces that a NASDAQ-listed company, eHealth, which operates eHealthInsurance.com, tracks daily changes in health insurance costs. The company claims its “eHealth Price Index” is the first and largest private, online health insurance exchange for individuals and families. eHealth also claims it is the first and only tool of its kind that monitors daily the average monthly cost of both individual and family health coverage plans, based on applications submitted. In addition to pricing, the website tracks the average age of individual healthcare applicants and profiles consumer practices and choices over time.

Chariman and CEO of e Health, Gary Lauer, boasts: “At a time when more consumers are researching health insurance, the eHealth Price Index brings this transparency and insightful consumer data to the market on a daily basis.”

Read more at the Wall Steet Journal

NAM: Obamacare ‘Will Hurt Manufacturers and Their Employees’

Manufacturers’ stomachs are upset over Obamacare. National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons told an NAM meeting in Houston on Tuesday (February 21, 2014): “Perhaps no issue gives manufacturers more heartburn than healthcare.” Timmons also added that if the ACA is not fixed, between 6 to 7 million fewer American workers will have employer-sponsored healthcare over the course of the next 10 years. Timmons maintains Obamacare costs to manufacturers over the next three years alone will be $22 billion dollars. Timmons adds that’s just added cost and “[I]t won’t get that mom on your assembly line one more pediatrician visit or one more prescription filled for your shop floor manager’s family.”

President Obama insists he’s putting the country at the forefront of 21st Century manufacturing, stating he’s launched two hubs (university, business partnerships) for manufacturing in the U.S., and plans two more, each in Detroit and Chicago. Timmons counters that while 97 percent of manufacturers offer employee health coverage, the healthcare law threatens the firms’ abilities to provide benefits because of the ACA’s one-size-fits-all structure.

Read more at CNS News.com

Obamacare Insurers in Louisiana Delay HIV Policy Change

Another Obamacare-drawn out court battle may loom as a result of Louisiana Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and two smaller insurers’ decisions, to delay implementing policies – which would have halted poor HIV patients paying for Obamacare plans, with money from the federal Ryan White HIV/ AIDS program. The announcement was made at a court hearing Monday, February 25, 2014. Judge Brian Jackson, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana then lifted a temporary restraining order that would have forced the insurers to accept Ryan White money to pay for premiums on behalf of HIV patients. HIV advocates regard the ruling as a win. Louisiana Blue will continue to receive payments from third parties, like the Ryan White program, through March 31 of this year. An HIV Positive Louisiana man has sued Blue Cross and Blue Shield alleging the company changed the rules covering patient acceptance to avoid taking him as a customer.

Judge Jackson has scheduled a March 10 hearing regarding a preliminary injunction to require insurers to accept the payments for the duration of the litigation.

Read more at Reuters

Hawaii Health Marketplace Off to an Especially Rough Start

Trouble in paradise? The 50th state’s Obamacare enrollment, since the botched rollout four months ago, has only been 4,300 people – this after its “Health Connector” allocated $120 million. The enrollment numbers are the lowest of any state. Some lawmakers now want to put the nonprofit under state control. Most states with independent healthcare exchanges have placed them directly under state governance.

Colorado, by contrast, had nearly seven times as many uninsured, and began its healthcare exchange with only $26 million less in federal money. They signed up 68,000 by February 1, 2014.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times

ACA Causes Headaches in Some Doctor’s Offices

At the local level, Obamacare is causing a problem in the doctor’s office. Office managers whose duties frequently include scheduling patients, securing payments, and paying overhead, now find they have an additional duty, verifying insurance under the ACA. One Wichita Falls medical office manager says it’s a “major challenge”, with two to three patients a day arriving with Obamacare health plans to check.

Open enrollment ends March 31, 2014, but people with plans are already starting to use them.

In the past, doctors’ offices have been able to make sure patients are insured quickly, by using an online verification system. But for exchange patients, practices also have to call the insurer to make sure the patient has paid his or her premium. If he hasn’t, the insurance company can refuse to pay the doctor for the visit, or come back later and recoup a payment it made.

Read more at Kaiser Health News.org

I’m Quitting My Job. Thanks Obamacare!

A ninth grade English teacher in Colorado plans to quit her job. Karen Wilmus of Colorado Springs found health plans under the state’s exchange for approximately $300.00 monthly. This beats her current employer’s sponsored coverage by 50% (less). Is Wilmus’ move a predictor of things to come? Conceivably, millions could quit their jobs or at least cut back their hours, effectively reducing the nation’s labor force by 2.5 million workers by 2024. Leaving a job or working less under the Affordable Healthcare Act enables workers to retain Medicaid eligibility or subsidies.
This has sparked renewed opposition to health reform due to concerns about its adverse economic impact.

Wilmus plans to start a business publishing materials for those trying to improve their literacy.

She expects to work more than she is now and even hire a small staff.

Read more at CNNMoney.com

AP Exclusive: Health Law Cybersecurity Challenges

As the Obama administration hurried to meet its self-imposed roll-out deadline, security experts working for the feds worried that state computer systems would be an opening for hackers. The AP has received documents demonstrating more than two-thirds of state computers which were supposed to access federal systems – to verify sensitive personal coverage information – were, at the outset, designated as “high risk” – for security issues. Such “back door” attacks have been in the news comparatively recently. Target’s credit and debit card compromise – is believed to have occurred when hackers gained access to information through a contractor’s network. To connect to federal computer systems, states must pass a security check and receive “authority to connect”. One document obtained by the AP, an e-mail from Teresa Fryer, chief information security officer for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, reflects her concern: “The front office is signing them whether or not they are at high risk.”

46 states and The District of Columbia have a three year “permissions to connect”.

Read more at the Washington Post

White House Meeting Turns Into a Lightning Round for Obama and Boehner

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner sat across from one another in the Oval Office, for approximately one hour, while covering a range of subjects, albeit for brief durations. Of course, one topic discussed, if not debated, was the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. While the meeting afforded both an opportunity to discuss the issue privately, few lawmakers on Capitol Hill expect to see much progress in the form of legislative breakthroughs.

Republicans continue their push to scale back the ACA. Boehner’s latest anti-Obamacare volley, was not given by Tweet, but rather on the House Floor, following the meeting: “Another sucker punch to our economy” … “Another broken promise to hardworking Americans.” The next Oval Office meeting between the two might not occur for a year.

Read more at the New York Times.com

White House Meeting Turns Into a Lightning Round for Obama and Boehner

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner sat across from one another in the Oval Office, for approximately one hour, while covering a range of subjects, albeit for brief durations. Of course, one topic discussed, if not debated, was the Affordable Care Act. While the meeting afforded both an opportunity to discuss the issue privately, few lawmakers on Capitol Hill expect to see much progress in the form of legislative breakthroughs.

Republicans continue their push to scale back the ACA. Boehner’s latest anti-Obamacare volley, was not given by Tweet, but rather on the House Floor, following the meeting: “Another sucker punch to our economy” … “Another broken promise to hardworking Americans.” The next Oval Office meeting between the two might not occur for a year.

Read more at the New York Times

Sibelius Blasts GOP Governors for ‘Playing with People’s Lives’

Polarizing rhetoric heats up again over Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. This time it’s by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who on Tuesday, February 25, 2014, accused Republican governors of “playing politics with people’s lives.” Interviewed on HuffPostLive, Sebelius further blasted GOP state chief executives, describing their decisions as “an outrage”. The Secretary called out Rick Perry and his state, claiming 23 percent of Texans have no health insurance. Republican governor Rick Scott of Florida at first backed Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, or at least supported an alternative, which would in part customize the ACA to a state’s specific needs, but changed his mind as he announced he was running for reelection.

GOP governors and legislators argue current Obamacare policy would deplete state coffers by increasing Medicaid rolls, they also fear the federal government won’t follow through on funding assurances.

Read more at The Hill.com