ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.

“The problem is that the benefits in question are neither ‘free’ nor likely to produce valuable savings. ObamaCare’s rules eliminated individual cost-sharing for a number of preventive services, but, as the administration admitted a few months after the law passed, at the cost of higher insurance premiums on average. It’s like a gym that suddenly makes all the drinks and snacks at its café ‘free’—but raises the price of membership.”

“A new GOP bill would require health insurance companies to describe their tax burden under healthcare reform to consumers in annual statements. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), a critic of the Affordable Care Act, said the measure would inform patients about the law’s “nearly trillion dollars in taxes” and how they might affect premiums. ‘If the federal government is going to play such a big role in our healthcare going forward, we have the right to know just how much it costs us,’ Walden said in a statement.”

“Some Americans could see their insurance bills double next year as the health care overhaul law expands coverage to millions of people. The nation’s big health insurers say they expect premiums – or the cost for insurance coverage – to rise from 20 to 100 percent for millions of people due to changes that will occur when key provisions of the Affordable Care Act roll out in January 2014.”

“Wellness programs do not appear to lower overall healthcare costs, a new study shows, leading researchers to conclude the Affordable Care Act’s wellness program incentives won’t significantly reduce healthcare spending. The study, published Monday in the journal Health Affairs, looked at a wellness program launched in 2005 by the St. Louis-based BJC Healthcare hospital system, which required employees wanting access to the system’s most generous health plan to participate in the program.”

“Most health plans provide some prescription drug benefits. Drug coverage will become more prevalent as more uninsured families gain health insurance as a result of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)… As drug coverage has become widespread, so have calls to impose additional regulations on drug plans and the firms that manage them. In the guise of protecting consumers, there are frequent calls for state and federal lawmakers to enact laws that hamper efficient management of prescription drug benefits. These efforts are short-sighted.”

“The architects of Obamacare designed the scheme without much thought to how its overlapping incentives would discourage competition on the price of the new coverage. Health plans will try to drive down costs by offering very narrow networks of providers that they can more easily control. It will be a race to the bottom to see which plan can offer the cheapest benefit, while still meeting minimum standards. But it won’t be a race to the bottom on price.”

“But the quality measures built into ObamaCare’s ACOs aren’t working so well yet either. Indeed, last week, virtually all of the health providers that Medicare has dubbed ‘Pioneer ACOs’—the program’s leaders and examples—sent a letter to Medicare officials overseeing the program in which they threatened to drop out. The reason is that the Pioneers feel that the performance and quality metrics aren’t up to snuff—and the data doesn’t yet exist to determine what the metrics should look like.”

“Federal and state officials and consumer advocates have grown worried that companies with relatively young, healthy employees may opt out of the regular health insurance market to avoid the minimum coverage standards in President Obama’s sweeping law, a move that could drive up costs for workers at other companies.”

“Less than a year before Americans will be required to have insurance under President Obama’s healthcare law, many of its backers are growing increasingly anxious that premiums could jump, driven up by the legislation itself.”

“Spurred by the Affordable Care Act, hundreds of pilot programs called Accountable Care Organizations have been launched over the past year, affecting tens of millions on Medicare and many who have commercial health insurance… We believe that many of them will not succeed. The ACO concept is based on assumptions about personal and economic behavior—by doctors, patients and others—that aren’t realistic.”