ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.

Typical federal government right hand/left hand confusion has some graduate students at the University of Missouri in Columbia turning their pockets inside out to scrape together enough money to afford health benefits.

On one hand, Obama administration education officials are pushing for colleges and universities to ease the rising cost of attending college, increase institutional need-based scholarships and do whatever they can to help students avoid drowning in student-loan debt.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article31634975.html#storylink=cpy

One of the health law’s key protections was to cap how much consumers can be required to pay out of pocket for medical care each year. Now some employers say the administration is unfairly changing the rules that determine how those limits are applied, and they’re worried it will cost them more.

To avoid the Affordable Care Act’s so-called “Cadillac tax” on rich benefit plans, companies are adding surcharges of $100 a month or more to wives and husbands of workers, hoping spouses will seek coverage elsewhere, new employer data shows.

Many Americans who bought health insurance through exchanges operated by states or the federal government have a good understanding of how their plan works, but also are afraid they can’t afford medical services, according to research published Monday by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.

American families, promised they would save $2,500 a year on health insurance premiums, are bracing themselves to see just how much their costs will increase again next year.

Health insurers across the country are seeking premium increases of 20% to 40% or more. Some carriers requested only modest increases, largely because they priced premiums in line with expected medical expenses in the first year. But many others found enrollees are sicker and more costly than anticipated.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico requested a 52% increase for 2016 individual plans, but the hike has been denied by the state’s insurance regulator.

President Obama is jawboning regulators to lower rates, but that can only go so far when plans face multimillion dollar gaps between premium income and claims payments.

The IRS is penalizing universities for providing healthcare to student employees, and it’s hurting the very people the Affordable Care Act was supposed to help.

In June Forbes reported that under new IRS regulations, starting in July 2015, small businesses and universities that reimburse employees healthcare premiums or pay their health costs directly will be fined up to $36,500 a year per employee. A penalty that is 18 times greater than the $2000.00 employer mandate.

Across the country, governors and state lawmakers have circled “2017” on their calendars. This is the first year that the enhanced federal funding for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion starts to fade away and states will have to scramble to find new funds to pick up their share of the expense. As it turns out, “free money” comes at a cost.

If the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of the plaintiff in King v. Burwell (AIS Alert, 6/25/15), there was optimism among some employers that certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would crumble. With the law now more firmly in place, more employers are looking to private exchanges as a possible strategy to help sidestep the so-called Cadillac tax, which is slated to go into effect in 2018.

The Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Treasury are seeking comments on several unanswered questions about the impending Cadillac tax, including what constitutes employer-sponsored coverage and different approaches for determining the cost of applicable coverage.

The number of Minnesotans struggling to pay their medical bills is rising sharply, despite an increase in the number of residents who have health insurance.

In the past year, Minnesota’s main hospital and clinic groups filed nearly 9,000 lawsuits against people with large or long-standing medical debts — a sharp increase since 2005, according to a Star Tribune analysis of court records.