ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.
“Health insurers say they plan to raise premiums for some Americans as a direct result of the health overhaul in coming weeks, complicating Democrats’ efforts to trumpet their signature achievement before the midterm elections. Aetna Inc., some BlueCross BlueShield plans and other smaller carriers have asked for premium increases of between 1% and 9% to pay for extra benefits required under the law, according to filings with state regulators. These and other insurers say Congress’s landmark refashioning of U.S. health coverage, which passed in March after a brutal fight, is causing them to pass on more costs to consumers than Democrats predicted.”
Regulators are discussing how to write regulations governing ObamaCare’s rules on “medical-loss ratios” which restrict the operating flexibility of insurers. “Democrats prefer an extremely narrow definition, the better to hasten the conversion of insurance companies into public utilities. This political pressure is giving most state commissioners night sweats, because they’re responsible for preventing coverage disruptions and premium increases in the insurance markets they oversee. When the commissioners met last week in Seattle, they largely declined to endorse the medical loss restrictions that Democrats favor.”
ObamaCare will restrict the ability of colleges to give students low-cost health plans. “As the new law currently stands, it’s unclear whether student health plans would meet federal requirements to qualify as minimum essential coverage. If they don’t, students would have to find coverage elsewhere or pay the individual mandate in addition to the premiums of their student health plan.”
Despite promises from the President that his health care law would not make anyone lose their current health plan, colleges will soon stop offering low-cost plans to students. Since young people are unlikely to need the expensive plans mandated by ObamaCare, colleges are able to offer inexpensive plans. ObamaCare will change all that, as new coverage mandates will be implemented. “Without a number of changes, it may be impossible ‘to continue to offer student health plans,’ says an Aug. 12 letter sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius from the American Council on Education and signed by 12 other trade associations representing colleges.”
Blue Cross of North Carolina announced their rate increases for next year and blamed ObamaCare regulations for some of the added costs. “While citing rising medical care costs as a primary driver in the proposed rate increases, company officials said provisions of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act health care reform law also will impact rates charged under the two plans. Those provisions include requiring insurers to remove the cap on lifetime benefits, enhance preventive care coverage and allow unlimited mental health services, prescription drugs and other types of care.”
“ObamaCare expands coverage to millions of Americans, but, warns Professor Shirley Svorny, without stronger measures to expand the supply of healthcare providers and contain costs, we can expect a physician shortage and soaring premiums. The California State University, Northridge economist suggests options for lowering costs and dismantling state-level regulations that restrain competition and innovation.”
Large employers are expecting next year’s health costs increase more than they did this year, with ObamaCare’s new regulations taking much of the blame. “While there was uncertainty about the regulations determining grandfathered plan status, the majority of employers (53%) were still planning to make changes to their plan designs. To comply with the law, employers are having to remove lifetime dollar limits on overall benefits (70%), make changes to annual limits on specific benefits (40%), remove annual dollar limits on overall benefits (26%), and remove pre-existing conditions exclusion clauses for dependent children under age 19 (13%). Employers are still evaluating retiree health offerings as a result of new provisions related to taxation of retiree drug subsidies as well as changes in Medicare Advantage plans.”
According to an analysis by Weiss Ratings, several small insurers will be driven out of business by ObamaCare’s new restrictions. “Martin D. Weiss, president of Weiss Ratings, said in a statement that provisions in PPACA, such as the removal of certain reimbursement limits and mandated coverage for pre-existing conditions, will force health insurers to spend more on medical care. ‘Most large health insurers will be able to handle it. But we are concerned that weaker, less profitable insurers will be forced out of the market, reducing competition and ultimately leading to fewer choices and higher premiums for consumers,’ he said.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce formally objected to the recently published regulations to implement ObamaCare’s provision to “grandfather” existing insurance plans. The regulations are very strict, and would likely grant exemption to only a small number of current plans. Complying with ObamaCare’s regulations will lead to higher insurance costs for companies, or lead those companies to drop coverage altogether.
ObamaCare’s promises to lower costs are not working, according to a new study from the National Business Group on Health. Businesses are increasing or considering increasing cost-sharing , dropping retiree drug coverage to stave off rising health insurance costs in 2011.