ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.

“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.”

“‘Already, the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health-care costs,’ President Obama boasted during his State of the Union address. Apart from the fact that the statement is untrue, the line will be a real howler next year, especially for the young people who so enthusiastically supported him.”

“The Obama administration has delayed by one year the rollout of a health program aimed at low to moderate-income people who won’t qualify for the expanded Medicaid program under the federal health law.”

“A new survey of major health care insurers, representing the vast majority of covered individuals in the U.S., conducted by the American Action Forum (AAF) answers the question: what impact will the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have on premiums in 2014? This survey aimed to illustrate real cases in a variety of regulatory environments, representing the spectrum of rate changes cross any given geographic area, rather merely average changes across demographics.”