ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.

“ObamaCare hurts businesses. That’s the result of an exhaustive study polling small to medium-sized businesses.
The controversial government health-care reform increases company and employee costs and sometimes stops companies from hiring as well, participants told the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans in its new study.
“More than half of single employers believe the Affordable Care Act has had a negative effect on their company,” according to the report.
The survey, which polled some employers and their health-care pros, found that the majority of respondents, 54 percent, thought the effect of the ACA on their firms had been “negative” or “very negative.”
The same respondents also expected that the negative effects from ACA would increase to 66 percent in the near future as the program unfolds.”

“Chattanooga’s success in achieving bargain-priced policies offers valuable lessons for other parts of the country as they seek to satisfy consumers with insurance networks that limit their choices of doctors and hospitals. Nationwide, about 70 percent of the lowest-priced plans included narrow networks, according to the consultants McKinsey & Company.
But few places have put them into place as successfully as here in Eastern Tennessee, where BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the area’s dominant insurer, cut a low price deal with one of the three big hospital systems to be the sole provider in their cheapest network. If all areas of the country had such low premiums, the federal government’s tab for subsidizing part of the cost of policies—totaling an estimated $29 billion for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1—would be dramatically lower.”

“Supporters of ObamaCare are nervously awaiting a decision by the D.C. Court of Appeals that could have even more dramatic consequences for the law’s ability to function than the Supreme Court’s religious liberty decisions issued last week.
Judge Thomas B. Griffith presided in March over arguments in one of the four cases – Halbig v. Burwell – challenging the Obama administration’s decision that subsidies for health insurance can flow through federal as well as state exchanges.
The Affordable Care Act says that health insurance subsidies are available only “through an exchange Established by the State.” The IRS, however, interpreted the statute to mean that the subsidies also could be distributed in the now 36 states where the federal government is operating exchanges.
During oral arguments, Judge A. Raymond Randolph indicated he felt the statute was quite clear in repeating “seven times” in that section that the subsidies are available only if the state sets up its own exchange.”

“Several indicators suggest that the political waters may be calming for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This doesn’t guarantee that the law will achieve its goals and be judged a success. It means that the law stands a better chance of being implemented free of constant political turmoil–and will have a better shot at success.
Consider:
*Public support for the ACA fell after the Web site debacle last fall, but while overall opinion toward the law continues to tilt negative, the falloff in the polls has stopped, according to the June Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking poll.
*After the administration rapidly repaired the Web site, the ACA exceeded the widely cited 7 million target for the first open-enrollment season, which had become a political litmus test for the law. And with no similarly big controversy, the ACA has become a far less juicy, and less prominent, media story.
*Some Republicans seem to be shifting their midterm strategy to focus less on the ACA and more on other issues they have with the president and the direction of the country.
*More people say that they are getting their information on the law from personal experience and from the experiences of family and friends, and fewer say that they are getting it from the news media, which they also say focuses mostly on politics and not what the law means for them. Increasingly, public perception of the law is about people’s experiences–whether good or bad–rather than ideology and partisan politics.”

“Robert Gibbs’ prediction that Obamacare’s employer mandate would — and perhaps should — be jettisoned shocked Democrats back in April.
By July, the former aide and longtime confidant of President Barack Obama had a lot more company. More and more liberal activists and policy experts who help shape Democratic thinking on health care have concluded that penalizing businesses if they don’t offer health insurance is an unnecessary element of the Affordable Care Act that may do more harm than good. Among them are experts at the Urban Institute and the Commonwealth Fund and prominent academics like legal scholar Tim Jost.
The employer mandate, Jost wrote in a Health Affairs post in June, “cries out for repair.” Repealing it “might not be such a bad idea,” if it’s replaced with something better for workers and busi

“WASHINGTON — More than half of privately insured women are getting free birth control under President Barack Obama’s health law, a major coverage shift that’s likely to advance.
This week the Supreme Court allowed some employers with religious scruples to opt out, but most companies appear to be going in the opposite direction.
Recent data from the IMS Institute document a sharp change during 2013. The share of privately insured women who got their birth control pills without a copayment jumped to 56 percent, from 14 percent in 2012. The law’s requirement that most health plans cover birth control as prevention, at no additional cost to women, took full effect in 2013.”

“At least three health insurers plan to offer insurance statewide in Georgia’s exchange for 2015. This year, only one health plan – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia – went statewide in the exchange. And the proposed Blue Cross rates for next year’s exchange will decrease by an average of 7 percent. Those were among the immediate highlights of data on proposed premiums, released by Georgia’s department of insurance, from the health plans seeking to participate in the state’s exchange next year. A total of nine insurers are seeking to offer exchange plans in 2015. That’s up from five insurers for the current year.”

“Sicker patients have prompted Denver Health to ask for a 17.5 percent hike next year in health insurance rates while the biggest carrier in western Colorado, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, is working to keep rates flat in high-cost resort counties.
When Colorado’s insurance regulators unveiled proposed 2015 rates for health insurance last week, the numbers were all over the map. (Click here to read Consumers demand lower rates, universal care.)
Denver Health provides care to patients of all ages. Some who have signed up through Colorado’s Health exchange are sicker and Denver Health is therefore proposing a rate increase. (Photo courtesy of Denver Health.)
Denver Health provides care to patients of all ages. Some who have signed up through Colorado’s Health exchange are sicker and Denver Health is therefore proposing a rate increase. (Photo courtesy of Denver Health.)
Denver Health proposed the biggest increase among carriers in Colorado, while other insurance companies proposed modest increases. New Health Ventures, which markets plans called Access Health Colorado, proposed a 22 percent cut in rates while the Colorado HealthOP wants to cut rates by about 10 percent overall.”

“Some New Yorkers are in sticker shock after receiving notices from their insurance companies saying that they have asked for significant rate increases through the state’s health exchange next year.
The exchange, which has prided itself on being affordable, is now facing requests for increases as high as 28 percent for some customers of MetroPlus, a new entry to the individual insurance market and one of the least costly — and most popular — plans on the exchange this year.”

“WASHINGTON — An independent audit of insurance exchanges established under the health care law has found that federal and state officials did not properly check the eligibility of people seeking coverage and applying for subsidies, the latest indication of unresolved problems at HealthCare.gov.
In a report to Congress on Tuesday, the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, Daniel R. Levinson, said that the exchanges, which enrolled eight million people, did not have adequate safeguards “to prevent the use of inaccurate or fraudulent information when determining eligibility.”
Moreover, in a companion report, the inspector general said that the government had been unable to verify much of the information reported by people applying for insurance coverage and financial assistance to help pay premiums.”