Fewer Middle-aged Stroke Survivors Skip Medicines Under Obamacare

With increased access to insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as Obamacare, fewer middle-aged stroke survivors are skipping medications that they previously might have struggled to afford, a U.S. study suggests.

Stroke survivors take an average of 11 medications a day, researchers note in JAMA Neurology. Half of stroke survivors under age 65 spend at least 10 percent of their disposable income on health care, and these middle-aged people are more likely to be uninsured than older people who qualify for Medicare… Read More at Reuters

Democrats Demand Trump Administration Improve Obamacare Oversight

Congressional Democrats are demanding that the Trump administration explain how it will improve Obamacare’s insurance exchanges, after a federal watchdog found current efforts lacking, buttressing their case that the administration is sabotaging the health law.

“The nation’s health department, which has the self-identified objective of ‘improving Americans’ access to health care,’ should not be working against the interests of patients and families and their goals of obtaining quality, affordable health insurance,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter Monday to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma.

The letter was signed by Sens. Patty Murray of Washington, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and by Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J… Read More at the Washington Examiner

A First: Obamacare Premiums to Decline in Georgia

The Obamacare rates for next year are in, and it’s a first: Rates are going down.

Following years of steep price hikes, two of the four companies that offer plans on the Affordable Care Act exchange in Georgia, also known as Obamacare, have proposed to lower their rates next year from what they charged in 2018.

According to figures for the individual insurance market released Thursday by the state Department of Insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia is proposing a tiny decrease in premiums for next year, with 2019 premium prices that are on average 0.3 percent lower than 2018’s premiums. Alliant Health Plans is decreasing its premiums by 10 percent… Read More at AJC.com

Media Ignore Record Low ObamaCare Rate Hikes — Anyone Want to Guess Why?

Democrats promised to make President Trump’s efforts to “sabotage” ObamaCare a big election issue this year. Then rate hikes for ObamaCare premiums started coming in well below expectations. Why isn’t this big news?

A few months ago, the Washington Post reported that Democrats were “centering their campaign to retake Congress … on a staunch defense of the Affordable Care Act.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer declared that “We Democrats are going to be relentless in making sure the American people exactly understand who is to blame” for-sky high rate hikes… Read More at Investors.com

How Trump Is Helping People Hurt by Obamacare

For all the discussion of Obamacare since its passage, it is too rarely known that the law effectively split the United States’ individual insurance market in two.

One group of Americans — about 8 million enrollees in 2017 — now pay, on average, less than a quarter of the cost of their health insurance, receiving ever-growing taxpayer subsidies to insulate them from Obamacare’s high premiums. But there is a second group of Americans who have faced the full premium increases driven by the law’s broken regulations. Roughly 5 million Americans, as of 2017, have chosen to pay those premiums without any subsidies, while another 28 million Americans remain uninsured, many priced out of coverage entirely… Read More at The Kansas City Star

Voters Now Split Over Single-Payer Health Care

A number of Democratic gubernatorial and senatorial candidates from across the country have been stumping for single-payer healthcare as part of their 2018 midterm election platforms. Voters are now closely divided on whether the federal government should provide healthcare for everyone even though most believe their personal taxes will increase as a result.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 43% of Likely U.S. Voters now favor a single-payer healthcare system where the federal government provides coverage for everyone, but just as many (43%) oppose it. Support for single-payer is down from a high of 48% in September, while opposition is up from an all-time low of 36% in the same survey… Read More at Rasmussen Reports

Health Care Choices and Premiums: What’s Going On in the States

Health care remains a major focus of the public discussion as premium prices rise and choices dwindle. Throughout the summer and into the fall, Obamacare insurers will announce decisions about the prices they want to charge and plans they want to offer next year, submitting them to regulators for review and approval.

Why are premiums increasing so much?

Research shows prices have been rising steadily — while choices have been falling — since Obamacare was first implemented, more than doubling in some places because of its failed policies and regulations.

Average premiums for individual insurance rose 105% in the first 4 years after Obamacare took effect — from $232 to $476 per person, per month. Moreover, Obamacare is forcing people to pay more for less.

In more than half of U.S. counties, Obamacare exchange customers have a “choice” of only one insurer. Networks are narrower, and access to doctors and hospitals is limited. The results include: fewer people had individual policies in December 2017 than in 2014, the first year in which Obamacare took full effect; and the number of small firms offering health benefits to their workers dropped by 24% between 2012 and 2016.

What is being done to lower costs and increase choices?

States, the Trump Administration and private innovators are doing what they can in the constraints of current law… Read More at Heritage.org 

As Trump Attacks, Insurers Boost Obamacare Marketing

Large health insurers have joined the parade of startups investing more in marketing and operations to expand their geographic footprints and sell more individual coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Anthem, the nation’s second-largest health insurer, said last week its performance has improved from last year when losses triggered a major retreat from Obamacare. So much so, Anthem last week said the number of individual customers dropped by more than 1 million to 712,000 in the second quarter compared to last year.

But Anthem executives say the insurer’s ACA individual business has stabilized enough that the operator of Blue Cross and Blue Plans in 14 states will expand in 2019 near areas where it still offers Obamacare coverage. It didn’t specify what states would see expansions, executives said in an update last week during Anthem’s second quarter earnings call.

“I think you’ll see some county expansions,” Anthem CEO Gail Boudreax said of 2019 plans for the ACA’s exchanges . “But I think more focused on the areas that we’ve been this year. So not a major rescaling, but we are pleased with the performance.”

The decision by Anthem is the latest sign that health insurance companies are forging ahead with expansion plans despite verbal and financial attacks on Obamacare by the Trump administration… Read More at Forbes 

Trump Administration Makes It Easier to Buy Alternative to Obamacare

The Trump administration took another whack at the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday.

Officials unveiled a final rule that will make it easier to obtain coverage through short-term health insurance plans, which don’t have to adhere to the law’s consumer protections.

The move would reverse an Obama administration decision to limit the duration of short-term plans to no more than 90 days in order to make them less attractive. Insurers will soon be allowed to sell these policies for just under a year. They can be renewed for up to 36 months, though that renewal isn’t guaranteed.

Administration officials say the short-term plans will provide a cheaper health insurance alternative for those who can’t afford to buy coverage on the Obamacare exchanges.

“We fully recognize that these products are not necessarily for everyone, but we do think they will provide an affordable option to many, many people who’ve been priced out of the current market under the Obamacare regulations,” said Randy Pate, a deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

But patient advocates and health policy experts argue that these policies provide only skimpy coverage and will undermine the Affordable Care Act… Read More at CNN.