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
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 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
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
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.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare, is hanging on by the skin of its teeth. So far, the act has proven resilient against Republican efforts to repeal it and the Trump administration’s attempts to defund it – but with premiums projected to soar by an average of 15% in 2019, the future of the ACA looks very dark.
Nothing drastic is likely to happen to the ACA before the midterm elections on November 06, according to Eric Wilson, principal of Wilson Associates, a company that specializes in healthcare insurance. Obamacare is likely to stick on the books until 2020 because “Congress needs time to get things done,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the plan is almost repealing itself in a lot of ways. Rates are increasing, deductibles are getting higher, and more and more people are opting out of the system. What’s happening now is that healthy people are opting out, leaving primarily sick people in the pool, which means rates are reacting like crazy,” Wilson told Insurance Business… Read More at Business Insurance Magazine
A majority of the public says they hold the Trump administration and Congress accountable for any problems with ObamaCare because they have made changes to the law, according to a poll released Wednesday.
The Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll found that a majority of those surveyed — 58 percent — said they hold the administration and Republican members of Congress responsible for any problems with the ACA since they have made a number of changes to the law.
According to the survey, most of the public also say they think President Trump and his administration are trying to make the Affordable Care Act fail.
Fifty-six percent of respondents believe the administration is trying to make the law fail, while 32 percent say they think it’s trying to make it work… Read More at The Hill
When the Trump administration announced a few weeks ago that it would freeze important Obamacare payments to health insurers, it wasn’t clear whether it was once again trying to sabotage the law, or needlessly introducing uncertainty to the law’s insurance markets, or both, or maybe neither.
Whatever it was, the Health and Human Services Department took action Tuesday to fix the problem, get the money flowing again, and remove any unnecessary doubt for insurers over billions of dollars in payments they were expecting.
At stake was Obamacare’s “risk adjustment” program. In brief, the program tries to help balance the medical risk in the law’s insurance markets. Health insurers that are found to have healthier customers (according to a federal formula) pay money into the program, and then insurers who have sicker customers receive money out of it… Read More at Vox
Democrats are so desperate to torpedo Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court that they’re resorting to scare tactics, telling Americans that his confirmation would put 130 million people at risk of losing their health insurance.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says Democrats can sink Kavanaugh by showing how his appointment will lead to a court majority that “repeals ACA with its protections for pre-existing conditions.” It’s demagoguery. And it’s working, as demagoguery too often does. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a frequent Trump opponent, is already moaning that the SCOTUS appointment will determine if “West Virginians with pre-existing conditions will lose their health care.”
Not true. Even if the Supreme Court does strike down the Affordable Care Act someday, the era of insurance companies turning down applicants with health problems is over. Across the country, Republican and Democratic state lawmakers agree on that. They are busy devising smarter ways to protect people with pre-existing conditions and keep insurance affordable, with or without Obamacare. Not one of these plans throws people with health problems under the bus. Democrats’ rhetoric about losing coverage for pre-existing conditions is hysteria… Read More at Boston Herald
Young adults would receive more government help to pay for Obamacare plans under a House bill introduced Wednesday.
The Advancing Youth Enrollment Act, by Rep. A. Donald McEachin, D-Va., would aim to bring more people between the ages of 18 to 34 into the Obamacare marketplaces by increasing the amount of tax credits they receive to pay for health insurance premiums.
Under the proposal, the maximum percentage of income that young adults would have to pay toward health insurance under Obamacare would decrease by 2.5 percentage points for people between the ages of 18 to 30. Each year after, until the age of 34, they would see a gradual phaseout of 0.5 percentage points a year… Read More at Washington Examiner