“Nearly five years after passage, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and a companion electronic health records (EHR) program have run a startup tab of more than $73 billion, the Bloomberg Government analysis finds.
Part of that total is the cost of healthcare.gov, the flawed website and related enrollment system intended to expand U.S. health insurance coverage.
BGOV’s analysis shows that costs for both healthcare.gov and the broader reform effort are far greater than anything publicly discussed. They’re also substantially greater than what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) initially estimated health reform would cost by this point, although not what the agency’s more recent piecemeal estimates suggest.”

“The 2010 federal healthcare law experimented with a number of ways to limit healthcare costs, but the real impetus to hold down spending has come from those who pay for coverage — most notably large employers and governments — and from doctors, hospitals and insurers seeking more sustainable business models. A good illustration is the HMO established recently by Anthem Blue Cross and several top Southern California hospitals, which will reward healthcare providers if they cut waste while improving patients’ results. It’s a welcome development, although the industry will have to go even further to rid itself of the perverse incentives that drive up costs.”

“One of Barack Obama’s best-remembered promises was, “If you like your health insurance, you can keep it.” But at the very same time the president was making that promise, lawmakers on Capitol Hill were drafting legislation that would make sure that promise could never be kept.
We call it Obamacare.
Moreover, the problem is not only that millions of people were unable to keep the plan they had in 2010, when the health reform law was passed. They are not likely to be able to keep for long any plan they have selected this year on a health insurance exchange. As we go forward, all health plans will be subjected to restrictions that are likely to change every year. So a plan that meets the Obamacare restriction this year, may not meet the restriction next year or the year after that.”

“Supporters of the Obama administration like to create the impression that there is no viable alternative to the Affordable Care Act — i.e., Obamacare. But that is demonstrably not true. Republican senators Richard Burr, Tom Coburn, and Orrin Hatch introduced a plan earlier this year that would cover just as many people with insurance as Obamacare at a fraction of the cost.
Now we have confirmation, in the form of a new cost estimate, that a similarly constructed but slightly different proposal would also cost less, while covering nearly the same number of people.”

“The Affordable Care Act continues to divide Californians, who remain skeptical four years after its passage despite the state’s relatively smooth launch in which more than 1.2 million people enrolled in health insurance coverage.
A new survey released late Tuesday found some 42 percent of state residents generally view the law favorably, while 46 percent harbor unfavorable opinions. Support is down somewhat since May, before a wave of targeted TV ads began in a handful of competitive congressional districts.”

“Everybody is for wellness, including corporate America. As the chart above shows, wellness programs–as varied as gym memberships, lifestyle coaching, flu shots and vaccinations, nutrition counseling and biometric screening, and other weight-loss efforts–are corporate America’s favorite strategy for health cost containment. That’s right, cost containment–despite the fact that evidence of wellness programs’ effectiveness is mixed when it comes to holding down costs and actually improving health.
The appeal of wellness programs has much to do with the popularity of wellness benefits among employees (and a belief that they can reduce absenteeism and improve productivity). The roughly $6 billion wellness industry aggressively sells products–and wellness programs are a far easier cost-containment strategy to sell to employees than higher cost sharing or narrower provider networks.”

“A federal appeals court threw out a lawsuit over the delay of ObamaCare’s employer mandate, a sign that a similar challenge in the works by House Republicans might not fare well.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue, and only parties “seeking to advance the interests” of the mandate could mount a “plausible” case against its delay.”

“The launch of the Affordable Care Act has focused attention on the idea of a health insurance exchange, or marketplace. Separate from the ACA, private exchanges have also started to emerge as an option for employers providing coverage to their workers. This report identifies the different types of private exchanges as well as projects the potential size of the private exchange market, which has the potential to reshape the employer-sponsored health insurance landscape, in the coming years.
Through interviews with representatives of more than fifteen private health insurance enrollment platforms as well as several employers and health plans moving in this direction, this report examines important implications in this quickly-growing landscape, including the potential for cost stability to employers and more choice among health plans for consumers.”

“Several unions want the Labor Department to broadly authorize employer-sponsored “wraparound” coverage for workers to supplement their exchange plan benefits and subsidies, according to comments on a rule that is currently being reviewed by the White House.
Under a little-noticed proposed rule the Labor Department issued on Dec. 24, the Obama administration proposed to treat as “excepted benefits” certain limited coverage provided by employers that would wrap around an individual market policy. If the wraparound coverage meets a number of requirements, it’s considered an excepted benefit and would not disqualify the employee from getting subsidized coverage on the exchanges. While unions generally supported the concept, many complained that the parameters the administration proposed would prevent lower wage employees from having access to the coverage and they are the ones that would benefit most.”

“Employer groups are ramping up their efforts to revise the ACA’s 30-hour full-time employee definition in hopes of getting it changed before the employer mandate kicks in for some large employers next year. The initiative, titled “More Time for Full-Time,” was announced Friday (Sept. 19) and is the latest tactic by employers to change the standard so that it defines a full-time employee as one who works 40 hours per week.
Groups involved in the initiative include the National Restaurant Association, the National Retail Federation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Grocers Association and the International Franchise Association.
“As all Americans have known for decades, 40 hours represents the widely-accepted definition of a full-time work week. Unless there is a statutory change to the definition of a full-time employee in the ACA, there will be fewer full-time jobs, more part-time workers and fewer overall hours available for Americans to work,” International Franchise Association President and CEO Steve Caldeira said in a statement.”