“While everyone was watching the debt-ceiling debate, the Department of Health and Human Services announced mandatory coverage of contraceptives (including ones that may act as abortifacients) and sterilization in new insurance plans, with the narrowest of conscience protection.”

“The survey, released by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), found that small businesses don’t have much faith in the new law’s power to control healthcare costs, but they don’t necessarily expect to quit offering coverage as a result… And employers reported a starkly negative opinion of the new law. At least 75 percent said they expect to see their taxes rise and don’t believe the new law will control the cost of insurance or reduce their paperwork burdens.”

“For a while, backers of last year’s health care overhaul have argued that it will become more popular as more people are exposed to its benefits. In particular, they’ve hoped that the supposed consumer protections that were front-loaded into the law’s implementation schedule would bolster the law’s sagging popularity. It hasn’t happened. A new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests one reason why that might be the case: ‘Only 20 percent of people believe consumer protections will get better under the law, while most others think protections will stay the same or get worse.'”

“In a truly market-based insurance exchange, women would be able to choose a health plan that met their needs and was consistent with their values, and those who wished to forgo certain benefits would have the freedom to do so. If any attempt at health reform is to succeed at reducing costs and tailoring coverage to the specific needs of each individual, it must ensure that consumers are able to choose the plan and benefits that work best for them, rather than submitting to the decisions of a bureaucratic board.”

“President Obama says that his health plan’s popularity will grow once its provisions start being implemented. But peculiar rules tucked into the legislation are likely to make the entire scheme even more disliked as its implementation approaches… The problem is that the actual insurance that health plans offer may be fairly lousy — perhaps just a little better than the typical managed care plan offered under Medicaid. That’s because of the way these insurance products are going to be regulated, and the way they will be priced under the federal scheme.”

“In our most dynamic case, when all covered employees are compensated in higher wages to offset their payment
of the full ESI premium in order that some will be able to take full advantage of an affordable coverage rule that
is broadly interpreted to mean affordable family coverage, we estimate that the movement of workers out of ESI
and into exchange-based coverage will: 1) overwhelm the number of workers moving into ESI by currently
uninsured workers in large firms due to the mandates; 2) cause the provision of health care insurance to working
Americans to become more sharply segregated based on family income; and 3) cost taxpayers up to $5 billion
dollars in gross subsidies for every one million workers who switch from being an ESI main policy holder to
receiving subsidized exchange coverage, all else equal. As a result, we estimate that increased exchange use in
the most dynamic case will require about $47.5 billion more in gross yearly subsidy payments than in the least
dynamic case.”

“A major provision of the healthcare reform law designed to prevent businesses from dropping coverage for their workers could inadvertently leave families without access to subsidized health insurance. The problem is a huge headache for the Obama administration and congressional Democrats, because it could leave families unable to buy affordable health insurance when the healthcare law requires that everyone be insured starting in 2014.”

“Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its proposed regulations for the Obamacare version of health insurance exchanges. State lawmakers are a key audience for these regulations, which is why HHS wrapped its announcement in talk of ‘state flexibility.’
In truth, the proposed regulations don’t give states any additional flexibility beyond what they are permitted under Obamacare anyway, and in some places they may further limit state lawmakers’ options.”

“ObamaCare creates incentives for state and federal politicians and bureaucrats to exert direct control over the premiums of health plans. However, because health plans largely pass through costs from medical providers, artificially limiting increases in premiums cannot actually result in lower health costs. Instead, it results in reduced access to care and threatens the solvency of health plans. ObamaCare also introduces at least five critical uncertainties that make it difficult to estimate future medical costs accurately, and suggest that Obamacare will be much more disruptive to health insurance than the Administration has advertised.”

“Another unintended consequence of President Barack Obama’s health care law has emerged: Older adults of the same age and income with similar medical histories could pay widely different amounts for private health insurance due to a quirk of the complex legislation. Those differences could be substantial. A 62-year-old could end up paying $1,200 a year more than his neighbor, in one example. And experts say the disparities among married couples would be much larger.”