ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.

Community Health Alliance, a Knoxville-based health insurance cooperative, is looking to increase monthly premiums by double digits in 2016 for those who enroll in plans on the federally run exchange as the newly established company tries to find an equilibrium.

The co-op’s plans — ranging from $68.22 to $1,062.05 per month — were the least expensive while they were available for purchase on the exchange.

The co-op is asking the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance for an average 32.6 percent increase for 2016 plans. The minimum a plan will increase is 16.2 percent, while the maximum increase is 65.2 percent.

Though supporters of President Obama’s healthcare program tout its success in providing insurance to millions of Americans, recent rate filings from large insurers have revealed that the law is built on a shaky foundation.

In recent weeks, large insurers selling coverage through Obamacare have proposed massive rate increases for 2016 – even exceeding 40 percent – because they haven’t been able to sign up enough young and healthy customers.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is charged with administering many key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). One might expect the IRS to follow the law when doing so. In drafting regulations to implement the PPACA’s tax credit provisions, however, the IRS seems to have a habit of ignoring the statutory text where the IRS does not like the result.

University of Iowa law professor Andy Grewal has found multiple instances of the IRS expanding tax credit eligibility beyond that provided for by the text of the PPACA and, in the process, increasing potential employer exposure to penalties under the Act. I discussed two of professor Grewal’s finds in a prior post. (See also this forthcoming article.)

In a new post on the Yale Journal on Regulation blog, “Notice & Comment,” professor Grewal identifies another IRS departure from the statutory text.

I might be accused of picking at low-hanging fruit, but I’d nonetheless like to devote another blog post to more IRS regulations that expand and contradict Section 36B. My prior blog posts, which I’ve adapted into an essay upcoming in Bloomberg BNA, discuss regulations that improperly extend ACA premium tax credits to persons in the Medicare coverage gap and to some unlawful aliens. In this post, I want to highlight regulations that improperly penalize employers and that give credits to taxpayers already enrolled in employer-sponsored minimum essential coverage.

Broadly speaking, Section 36B offers premium tax credits, on a month-by-month basis, to taxpayers who purchase Exchange policies only when they can’t otherwise obtain minimum essential coverage. However, the mere offering of minimum essential coverage by an employer to a taxpayer will not disqualify her from tax credits. Instead, the employer coverage must be affordable and provide minimum value. See Sections 36B(c)(2)(C)(i) & (ii).

Federal programs rarely come in under budget. Consider Medicare, which will soon celebrate its 50th anniversary. In 1967, lawmakers projected annual spending in the program would reach $12 billion in 1990. The actual tab that year? A cool $110 billion.

A new report from the Congressional Budget Office says that Obamacare will buck the trend. The CBO has lowered its projections for the cost of the president’s healthcare law by $142 billion over the coming decade, from $1.35 trillion to $1.2 trillion. Obamacare may cost the feds less than anticipated, but it’s extracting far more from consumers’ wallets than they bargained for. Consequently, Obamacare has put insurance out of reach for many Americans – breaking its promise to make health care more affordable.

The decline in Obamacare’s cost is not as impressive as it seems. The total price tag is still some $250 billion higher than the president promised when he signed Obamacare in March 2010. The CBO’s projection came down primarily because the agency decided that the law would be less effective at expanding access to insurance coverage than previously thought. An earlier estimate held that Obamacare would increase the number of insured Americans by 27 million in 2023. The new estimate is 25 million.

One primary goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to expand access to affordable health care. However, in the five years since the ACA’s passage, we have found that while more people have health insurance, they do not necessarily have access to affordable health care.

In order to pay for the subsidies that have facilitated the expansion of health insurance coverage, many recipients of federal funds were forced to accept payment reductions. Hospitals were faced with cuts of $260 billion over ten years.[1] These reductions came in the form of delayed payment updates for Medicare hospital services and reduced Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments meant to compensate hospitals for treating a high percentage of patients for whom the hospital is often inadequately reimbursed. The justification for the cuts to hospital payments was based on assumptions that, by increasing insurance coverage to millions of people, fewer individuals would go to the emergency room (ER) to receive care—where they would potentially be treated for free subject to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA)[2]—and instead could seek care in non-hospital settings such as physician offices, outpatient clinics, urgent care centers, etc.

Nearly a quarter of all people who bought Obamacare health plans still cannot afford the care they need, a leading advocate for President Obama’s healthcare law says.

Families USA, a group that often proposes improvements to the law, says high deductibles make healthcare unaffordable for many people, even though they now have insurance.

A survey released by the group Thursday found that nearly one in four adults shopping in the new insurance marketplaces bought plans with deductibles of $3,000 or more and 42 percent enrolled in plans with at least a $1,500 deductible.

It means many customers are forgoing needed health services because they cannot foot the bill.

“They could not afford tests or they could not afford various treatments or they could not afford the cost of medicines,” said Families USA President Ron Pollack. “The key culprit [is] high deductibles.”

The growth in health care spending has slowed down and President Obama wants America to know his health care law gets the credit. Or maybe the blame, because one reason for that slowdown is that people are spending more out of their own pockets. Health care actuaries say that when people have to spend more out of pocket for health care, they tend to spend less elsewhere. And when a third party—employers, health insurers or the government—insulates consumers from the cost of care they tend to spend more. – See more at: http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=25652#sthash.KaaCV94L.3b1iR1LZ.dpuf

One of the key questions surrounding Obamacare is just how many people have been newly insured under the law. The answer is clouded by the fact that the White House and others have changed some rules of math for making these assessments.

For example, several years ago, the Obama administration fiddled with the Census Bureau’s definition of what it means to be “uninsured.” The new parameters, which were looser than the old factors, make it hard to construct comparisons between today’s figures for the total number of uninsured and the historical trends.

The Obama team also abruptly started to exclude uninsured illegal immigrants from the national tally on total number of uninsured Americans. Before Obamacare, these individuals were counted in that reporting, inflating the numbers. After Obamacare, these individuals didn’t get insurance, but suddenly didn’t get counted any more.

Now, a new analysis from the highly regarded managed care analyst at Goldman Sachs, Matthew Borsch, and his team, cast uncertainty on some of the recent data releases from the White House, and its network of academicians. In particular, the Goldman breakdown conflicts in some key ways with a recent analysis from RAND that was published in the journal Health Affairs and widely cited by the media.

One of the key questions surrounding Obamacare is just how many people have been newly insured under the law. The answer is clouded by the fact that the White House and others have changed some rules of math for making these assessments.

For example, several years ago, the Obama Administration fiddled with Census Bureau’s definition of what it means to be “uninsured.” The new parameters, which were looser than the old factors, make it hard to construct comparisons between today’s figures for the total number of uninsured and the historical trends.

The Obama team also abruptly started to exclude uninsured illegal immigrants from the national tally on total number of uninsured Americans. Before Obamacare, these individuals were counted in that reporting, inflating the numbers. After Obamacare, these individuals didn’t get insurance, but suddenly didn’t get counted any more.

Now, a new analysis from the highly regarded managed care analyst at Goldman Sachs, Matthew Borsch, and his team, cast uncertainty on some of the recent data releases from the White House, and its network of academicians. In particular, the Goldman breakdown conflicts in some key ways with a recent analysis from RAND that was published in the journal Health Affairs and widely cited by the media.