“With the Affordable Care Act to start enrollment for its second year on Nov. 15, some unpleasant surprises may be in store for some.
That’s because a number of low-priced Obamacare plans will raise their rates in 2015, making those options less affordable. On top of that, penalties for failing to secure a health-insurance plan will rise steeply next year, which could take a big bite out of some families’ pocketbooks.
“The penalty is meant to incentivize people to get coverage,” said senior analyst Laura Adams of InsuranceQuotes.com. “This year, I think a lot of people are going to be in for a shock.””

“The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a case on a subject that’s important to millions of people who receive subsidies to help purchase coverage under the health-care law. Friday’s decision follows earlier action in July when two U.S. appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on the issue. KHN’s Mary Agnes Carey answers some frequently asked questions about those court decisions and how they impact consumers.”

“With the second open enrollment period of the health insurance marketplaces approaching, this analysis provides an initial look at premium changes for marketplace plans for individuals in 15 states and the District of Columbia that have publicly released comprehensive data on rates or rate filings for all insurers.
The analysis examines premium changes for the lowest-cost bronze plan and the two lowest-cost silver plans in 16 major cities. The second-lowest cost silver plan in each state is of particular interest as it acts as a benchmark that helps determine how much assistance eligible individuals can receive in the form of federal tax credits. The findings show that in general, individuals will pay slightly less to enroll in the second-lowest cost plan in 2015 than they did in 2014, prior to the application of tax credits.”

“Within days of the Republican Party regaining control of the Senate, a host of policy issues has quickly risen to the top of Washington’s priorities list: trade, corporate tax reform, the Keystone pipeline. And then there’s the medical device tax.
The tax, passed as part of the Affordable Care Act, plays a marginal role in the health-care overhaul, but the push to repeal it has attracted millions of dollars of lobbying, as well as high-profile supporters on the Hill, from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).”

“For businesses across Michigan and the country, the Obama administration’s one-year reprieve from financial penalties under the national health care law is nearing an end, forcing some employers to chose between buying coverage for employees or paying fines.
At the same time, some small businesses that already offer health insurance are facing big price hikes next year as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan — the largest carrier in the state — has stopped allowing businesses to renew policies that aren’t compliant with the Affordable Care Act. In their place it is offering more comprehensive, but pricier, insurance policies.”

“The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear the most serious challenge to the Affordable Care Act since the justices found it constitutional more than two years ago: a lawsuit targeting the federal subsidies that help millions of Americans buy health insurance.
More than 4 million people receive the subsidies, which the Obama administration contends are essential to the act by making insurance more affordable for low- and middle-income families.”

“Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is planning to make ObamaCare a priority in his first weeks as leader of the Senate, vowing a sustained effort to dismantle the law piece-by-piece.
McConnell said the GOP will tackle unpopular aspects of the law such as the individual mandate, the medical device tax and the 30-hour workweek requiring employers to provide insurance.”

“There is nothing more time consuming and expensive for a patient than undergoing extra tests or procedures during a trip to the emergency room, doctor’s office or urgent care center.
Often a physician will know exactly what a patient’s diagnosis is but will order an x-ray, CT scan, blood work or MRI to reaffirm his clinical judgment. The common rationale is to back up his opinion in case there is a lawsuit.”

“The Obama administration plans to close a loophole in the Affordable Care Act that allows large companies to refuse to cover in-patient hospital stays in any of their health insurance plans, according to an official involved in the internal discussions.
The official requested anonymity until the announcement is made because “the guidance that will be issued is not finalized.””

“Healthcare stakeholders and the public likely will have to wait at least another week—if not longer—to find out whether the U.S. Supreme Court will hear King v. Burwell, a case with the potential to severely disrupt implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The justices were scheduled last Friday to discuss whether to hear the case, but on Monday morning it was announced that they took no action. Shortly after that announcement, the court’s website showed that the justices had scheduled another private discussion about the case, which is called relisting.”