ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.

“U.S. small businesses are dropping health insurance for their workers, as Obamacare lets them send employees to new marketplaces where they can often get subsidies from the government to buy coverage.
WellPoint Inc. (WLP)’s small business insurance products lost 300,000 people this year, the company said today. Business owners are dropping coverage they previously bought through WellPoint and other insurers, and instead sending employees to shop for it on the government exchanges created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare.”

“Do you suppose any of the 2014 candidates will find time in the closing week to talk about Obamacare again, in the midst of all the other slow rolling disasters? (Aside from the occasional Root and Branch repeal call, that is.) If they do, they might want to mention a new study from the Medical Group Management Association which has some rather depressing figures in terms of medical services availability next year for participants. Barbara Boland has the story.
Over 214,000 doctors won’t participate in the new plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA,) analysis of a new survey by Medical Group Management Association shows. That number of 214,524, estimated by American Action Forum, is through May 2014, but appears to be growing due to plans that force doctors to take on burdensome costs. It’s also about a quarter of the total number of 893,851 active professional physicians reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
In January, an estimated 70% of California’s physicians were not participating in Covered California plans.”

“For health policy wonks, the end of the year isn’t just the holiday season. With the falling temperatures will come a renewed “doc fix” debate, as Congress deliberates on ways to avoid a scheduled double-digit (24 percent last year) cut in Medicare’s physician payments. And avoid it they will. As health economist Austin Frakt put bluntly: “Good luck getting physicians to keep Medicare patients if the payments are suddenly cut 24 percent.””

“A caucus of seven nervous Democratic senators, led by Mark Begich of Alaska, has been pushing a plan to “reform” the Affordable Care Act by allowing insurers to offer an even skimpier insurance plan than the skimpiest permitted now. .
The idea of their “Expanded Consumer Choice Act” is to create a new “copper” tier of health plan permitted in the individual and small-business markets under the ACA. The copper tier would undercut the current tiers of health plans by covering only 50% of expected health costs. Under the current law, the stingiest “bronze” tier covers 60% of costs.”

“The House Science Committee has issued a subpoena for former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park over his role in developing HealthCare.gov.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued the subpoena for the Obama administration’s former top tech advisor, demanding that he testify about his oversight of the ObamaCare website, including its security protocols.
The subpoena comes after Park’s previous refusals to testify and his recent cancellation of a meeting with House lawmakers after it became clear that the briefing would be public, the committee said.”

“Plans to find a way to expand Medicaid eligibility for Tennessee residents aren’t moving as quickly as expected, Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday morning.
The governor said he continues to work with federal health officials to find a solution that will work, but it’s taking longer than he had hoped.
“I would have hoped we would have made more progress by now, after the meeting we had up there five or six weeks ago,” Haslam said Tuesday morning after speaking at an education conference in Nashville.”

“A key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the requirement that private insurance plans cover recommended preventive services without any patient cost-sharing.1 Research has shown that evidence-based preventive services can save lives and improve health by identifying illnesses earlier, managing them more effectively, and treating them before they develop into more complicated, debilitating conditions, and that some services are also cost-effective.2 However, costs do prevent some individuals from obtaining preventive services (Figure 1). The coverage requirement aims to remove cost barriers.”

“Remember Obama’s now “infamous” line, “If you like your healthcare, you can keep it?” If it only had been true, because many Americans—especially our nation’s young people are suffering as a result of the President’s signature legislation.
President Obama told us that the average American would see their health insurance premiums lowered; yet the opposite is true. A recent study shows that health insurance premiums have drastically skyrocketed among 23-year-olds, especially males who have seen a 78 percent price increase. Women have seen close to a 45 percent increase.”

“Aetna Inc. (AET), the third-largest U.S. health insurer, raised its profit forecast for the year as enrollment increases.
Operating earnings this year will be $6.60 to $6.70 a share, above the previous forecast of $6.45 to $6.60, the Hartford, Connecticut-based company said today in a statement.”

“Spoiler alert! When it comes to covering the uninsured, Obamacare has proven itself to be one giant expansion of Medicaid. A new report released Wednesday reveals the total coverage increase for the first half of 2014. While total coverage increased by 8,538,327 individuals, enrollment in Medicaid accounted for 71 percent of that growth. Check out the infographic below for the full breakdown of the numbers.”