ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.

Breaking with normal tradition, we’re going to open this week’s update with national trends before moving into updates at the federal and state levels. This week there was an interesting report from the Kaiser Family Foundation that estimated that 50 percent of households receiving financial assistance to purchase private health insurance on the Marketplaces will have to return a portion of that subsidy when they file their tax returns as part of the tax credit reconciliation process. Repayments will, in most cases, be deducted from an enrollee’s refund check and the Kaiser report estimates that the average repayment will be $794. Roughly seven percent of enrollees could owe a repayment of between $2,000 and $5,000 and two percent could have to repay more than $5,000. A slightly smaller percentage of households, 45 percent, are estimated to receive additional money with their tax refund because they received underpayments in tax credits, with the average refund estimated to be $773. Kaiser’s report comes the same week as an unrelated but equally insightful analysis from Avalere found that for Open Enrollment 2 (OE2), ACA Marketplaces were primarily successful in enrolling lower-income persons eligible for subsidized coverage. The report found that as a person’s income went up, they were less likely to enroll in ACA coverage through a Marketplace, with only two percent of persons eligible for Marketplace coverage, but earning more than the amount to receive a subsidy, enrolled in a plan through a Marketplace.

With many Marketplaces and the Federally-facilitated Marketplace currently offering a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for those currently uninsured who did not have health coverage in 2014 and are subject to the “shared responsibility payment” when they file their 2014 taxes, there have been few updates on how many eligible persons are taking advantage of this opportunity to gain coverage. However, over the weekend Mark Ciaramitaro, a vice president of health-care enrollment services at H&R Block, told the Wall Street Journal “that a significant percentage of taxpayers whose household members were not covered for at least a portion of 2014 are opting” to pay the penalty for not having coverage and not demonstrating an interest in signing up for 2015 coverage.

Six Democratic senators and one independent have asked the Department of Health and Human Services to a delay a new rule that would likely force small businesses to pay more for employee health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The senators warn that if the administration goes ahead with the change it would be “particularly harmful and disruptive” to small businesses.

Starting in 2016, the Obamacare change will require businesses that employ between 51-100 people to purchase insurance in what the government defines as the “small group market,” rather than the market for large group plans. The senators warn that the change will inflate health care costs for those businesses.

“[T]hey could experience higher premiums, less flexibility, and new barriers to coverage. We therefore encourage you to delay the effective date in the definition change for two years so the market can more smoothly transition to the new rules,” the senators wrote in the March 12 letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

What Were the Top 5 Fails from 5 Years ofACA?

Here are some of the top actual practices of the ACA thatdiverge from what we were promised:

1. PolitiFact “Lie of the Year”: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”

The Obama Administration and many Democratic members of Congress repeatedly assured Americans that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” PolitiFact rated this the “Lie of the Year for 2013” after cancellation notices went out to 4 million people. (PolitiFact)

2. “If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.” Not.

In June 2009, President Obama said, “If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.” But nearly five years later, the president admitted that Americans might lose their doctors after all. (WebMD Exclusive Interview). This is a broken promise that many ObamaCare enrollees will face, given that 70 percent of ObamaCare plans are narrow or ultra-narrow network plans, compared to 23 percent of employer-sponsored plans. (Washington Post)

The Congressional Budget Office’s new report shows updated cost projections for the insurance coverage expansion in the Affordable Care Act. With the debate over the ACA remaining so intensely polarized, advocates moved aggressively to spin this routine update as reflecting favorably on the law. A front-page article in the Washington Post referred to the new findings as showing “savings,” quoting a supporter as saying, “I can’t see how people can continue to say . . . that Obamacare had no cost containment in it.” Such comments in the wake of CBO’s update are flawed interpretations of the new estimates and what they signify. The following explains what CBO has actually projected: basically that the ACA will do less to expand coverage than previously estimated.

Health care premiums are continuing to rise in 2015. While the pace of change has slowed since the dramatic increases of 2014, the savings promised under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have still not materialized.

Measuring changes in premiums is an important element in understanding the impact of the ACA. In previous analysis, The Heritage Foundation determined that the new regulations and benefit mandates put in place through the ACA caused premiums to increase drastically in 2014, with average premiums increasing more than 50 percent in some states.[1] This Issue Brief examines premium changes in 2015 and finds continued but slower premium growth, indicative of a market going through a sorting process.

Five years after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, the White House claims the law is working even better than imagined, but one of its leading critics says every major promise is now proven untrue and costs will keep going higher and higher unless we change course.

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, into law. It happened after a fierce debate on the House floor just a few days earlier and a controversial move by Senate Democratic leaders to pass changes by a simple majority since they did not have the votes to do it through regular order.

The law took full effect in 2014, following a disastrous roll-out of the federal health-care exchange website in October 2013. But for those who warned against the law before its passage, the contents of the law are far more troubling than the major technical problems that bogged down the exchange.

“People have learned on a very personal level how they were lied to in the passage of this law. They’ve lost their doctor. They’ve lost their health plan. Their costs are going up. Many people have lost jobs and certainly hours as a result of it. Small businesses have felt a huge impact, said Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner. “It’s been a tremendous drain on the economy, and very few if any of those original promises were met.”

Turner is a longtime veteran of Washington health-care policy debates. She was at the forefront of the effort to stop the Clinton administration’s attempt to overhaul the health-care system in 1993 and is still fighting to roll back Obamacare.

She was in the House chamber in March 2010 during the final, intense moments of the debate.

ObamaCare is celebrating its fifth anniversary, but few Americas are cheering.

The Real Clear Politics average of the latest major opinion polls about the health law shows that 52.5% oppose it and only 42% approve. The 10.5% spread is identical to the average of polls taken when the law was signed five years ago. Approval numbers never have topped disapproval numbers since the law was enacted. It is not getting more popular and it is not settled law, as President Obama claims.

President Obama is touting the increased number of people who have health insurance as a result of the law. According to Gallup, the uninsured rate among U.S. adults averaged 12.9% in the fourth quarter of last year. The uninsured rate was 14.4% the year before the health law passed, also according to Gallup.

So our health sector has been thrown into turmoil, millions of people have lost their private health plans, $1 trillion in new and higher taxes have been imposed on individuals and businesses – and the uninsured rate has dropped a net of 1.5%.

Half of the people who received ACA subsidies in 2014 will owe money to the government because they underestimated their incomes when applying for coverage and got too large a monthly premium credit, according to an analysis released by the Kaiser Family Foundation today. Nearly as many people — 45 percent of individuals with subsidies — overestimated incomes last year and received too small a tax credit every month, Kaiser found. Individuals at the lower-income end of this population will be more likely to owe money (54 percent) than to get any back (40 percent). They also will have lower repayment or refund amounts on average than subsidy-eligible people with higher incomes. Overall, the average repayment will be $794, while the average refund will be $773, Kaiser calculated. These findings spell trouble as many people who received subsidies might not know that they could end up owing back a portion. As subsidies often go to low-income people without financial flexibility, the repayments could be a nightmare. Kaiser suggests that this unpredictability could discourage people from signing up in the future.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today marks the 5-year anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare. The last five years have proven that a one-size-fits-all, top-down government healthcare system doesn’t work. Coinciding with the date President Obama signed ObamaCare into law, Independent Women’s Forum released a series of memes highlighting the devastating consequences of this failed law.
Hadley Heath, Director of Health Policy at the Independent Women’s Forum, issued the following statement:

“ObamaCare has proven in its first five years that central planning does not work, especially not for health care. Americans are fed up with the continuously rising costs and diminished choice they face in health care and insurance as a result of too much government interference. Maybe millions have gained coverage, but millions have lost coverage too. And those who have gained coverage too often have gained coverage in name only, but still have difficulty finding doctors and accessing the care they need. On net, Americans are worse off as ObamaCare continues to take its toll on the economy, on the doctor-patient relationship, and on our freedoms.”

Five years ago, President Obama and Congressional Democrats disregarded both the Constitution and the opinion of the American people when they enacted ObamaCare. Since then, Americans have seen the law transition from political to personal. Many have lost access to their longtime doctor. They lost the insurance plan they were happy with. They pay higher premiums or a higher deductible. Maybe it cost them their job, maybe it cost them hours at work, or maybe they’re suffering from all of the above.

As the legislation has been implemented over the last five years, the cracks in the final bill have expanded one by one into full scale crises. President Obama has attempted to patch these problems by writing new rules and regulations on the fly, often with questionable constitutionality. But soon his days of bypassing federal law and the Constitution may catch up to him, and to all of us.