ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.
iMost of the people who tell you that consumerism can’t work in health care tend to work in health care themselves. But if they were doing such a great job, maybe our health care system wouldn’t be riddled with high costs, fatal medical errors, and hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud.
Companies in other industries – from Wal-Mart to Trip Advisor, Amazon, and Google – have figured out ways to simplify incredibly complex systems to lower the amount of time and the cost for consumers to identify affordable, quality products. Those companies have just one thing in common: they answer to consumers.
Rather than focusing on how health care worked in the past, policymakers should encourage competition by clearing away outdated regulations that prevent savvy, tech-based entrepreneurs from empowering patients with the information they need to find the providers who deliver the best outcomes – often at a more affordable cost.
Eager to maximize coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration has allowed large numbers of people to sign up for insurance after the deadlines in the last two years, destabilizing insurance markets and driving up premiums, health insurance companies say.
The administration has created more than 30 “special enrollment” categories and sent emails to millions of Americans last year urging them to see if they might be able to sign up after the annual open enrollment deadline. But, insurers and state officials said, the federal government did little to verify whether late arrivals were eligible.
In most states, health insurance premiums on the individual marketplace are rising by double digits under Obamacare. 17 states will face average premium increases of 20% or more. Iowans, for instance, will see their premiums spike by 22% this year. In Minnesota, Alaska, Tennessee, and Hawaii, rates will rise by 30% or more.
Want to know where your state ranks? FreedomWorks has calculated the average rate hike and the range of premium changes individuals purchasing insurance on the individual market will face. Click below to read more.
Recently, the Obama administration said 11.3 million Americans had signed up for 2016 health exchange plans by late December.
“That’s still significantly lower than what experts had initially expected at this point in time in exchange implementation,” said Caroline Pearson, senior vice president with health care consulting firm Avalere. “We had anticipated, based on the Congressional Budget Office estimates, that perhaps 21 million people might be enrolled in 2016.”
“Many middle income people continue to suggest that exchange plans just aren’t affordable for them,” Pearson told CNBC. “Even with the subsidies, they simply can’t make the monthly premiums work in addition to all of the out of pocket costs.”
Between 1999 and 2015, premiums increased by 203%, outpacing both inflation and workers’ earnings. Between 2014 and 2015, the average premium for single and family coverage increased 4%, and over the past 5 years, deductibles increased faster than both premiums and wages.
This Kaiser Family Foundation/New York Times survey provides an in-depth look at the experiences of Americans ages 18-64 who say they or someone in their household had problems paying medical bills in the past year. The survey explores the causes of medical bill problems and the impacts they have on individuals and their families, finances, and access to health care. To provide context, a shorter companion survey was conducted among those who do not report having medical bill problems.
Most discussions about insurance costs center around premium increases, or (less often) deductibles. Less often do we here them discussed together. Yet, the combination is a critical factor in determining how illnesses affect the financial well-being of families.
An insured family has to pay its premium regardless of whether or not any claims are made. In addition, a family has to meet its annual deductible before receiving any benefits for treatment of illnesses or injuries. That means a family has to pay the total of the premium plus the deductible before any benefits are payable.
For the first time, businesses that employ the equivalent of 50 to 99 full-time workers face a fine of $2,160 per worker if they don’t provide coverage. (An employer’s first 30 workers are excluded from the calculation.)
For an employer with the equivalent of 75 full-time workers, for example, the maximum penalty would be $97,200 for 2016.
Obama administration officials said last month that about 2.5 million new customers had bought insurance through HealthCare.gov since open enrollment began on Nov. 1. The number of new enrollees is 29% higher than last year at this time, suggesting that the threat of a larger penalty may be motivating more people to get covered.
But plenty of healthy holdouts remain, and their resistance helps explain why insurers are worried about the financial viability of the exchanges over time. People who earn too much to qualify for federal subsidies that defray the cost of coverage may be most likely to opt out.
Many insurance companies are losing money selling ObamaCare policies. Unfortunately, the White House wants to make their losses your problem. In December, Congress refused an administration request to provide insurers with $2.5 billion in bailout money to help cover their 2014 losses.
The Obama administration hasn’t given up. It has declared that this $2.5 billion in corporate welfare and potentially billions more for losses insurers have incurred in 2015 is “an obligation of the U.S. government for which full payment is required.”