“More than 120,000 Arizona residents signed up for private health insurance during the first year of the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace.
But it’s the second year that analysts will scrutinize, to see whether health insurers increase rates or discontinue selling plans over the federal exchange.”
“Federal data released Monday show an increase in the average price hospitals charge to treat common conditions, with vascular procedures and chest-pain treatment showing some of biggest upticks.
The numbers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services include 2012 prices at 3,376 hospitals for the 100 most common inpatient stays by Medicare patients. It is the second year the agency has released such data, and it reflects $57 billion in payments from Medicare, the federal insurance program for the elderly and disabled.”
“A new analysis from Avalere Health finds that individuals choosing an exchange plan based on premiums are most likely to consider plans from Coventry (acquired by Aetna in 2013), Humana, and WellPoint in regions where they participate.”
“With much of the focus on Obamacare now on how much individual premiums could increase next year, a new analysis suggests there’s one way to keep them in check — more competition. That’s the conclusion of a new report from economists Leemore Dafny, Christopher Ody and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber.”
“The Obama administration has quietly adjusted key provisions of its signature healthcare law to potentially make billions of additional taxpayer dollars available to the insurance industry if companies providing coverage through the Affordable Care Act lose money.”
“During his first run for the presidency in 2008, President Obama blasted the influence of insurance lobbyists and vowed to take on the industry if elected. Yet as president, he passed a health care law that funnels more than $1 trillion in subsidies to insurers, and fines Americans who do not purchase their products. And on Friday, the Obama administration relented to pressure by the insurance industry, vowing to use additional taxpayer dollars to help bail out insurers from losses racked up as part of his health care law.”
“Many insurers only dipped a toe into the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplaces for their first year.
Cigna, one of the country’s largest insurers, offered 2014 plans to individuals in fewer than half a dozen states. Humana is only in a little more than a dozen states. The biggest health insurer, UnitedHealthcare, didn’t offer any policies through the federally run online portal and only a few elsewhere.”
“A top insurer in the North Carolina Obamacare exchange reported that its customers are both older and less healthy than it expected and warned that premiums are likely to rise next year.
“Not as many of the state’s young and healthy enrolled as expected,” Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina announced in a press release. The company expected 50 percent of its Obamacare exchange customers to be younger than 35, but just 32 percent of customers are below age 35 and just 25 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34.”
“In his Monday Think Tank post previewing political and policy battles over insurance premium increases, Drew Altman wrote that “85% of those who purchase insurance in the new marketplaces will get a government subsidy in the form of a tax credit to help defray the cost of the premium. That means that most people buying in the exchanges won’t pay much even if their premium cost goes up significantly” in 2015.”
“Of all the various Republican health care reform ideas, the most popular by far is letting people buy health insurance across state lines. It polls off the charts, provokes spontaneous applause in town hall meetings, is the talk of conservative policy wonks and state lawmakers, and features in virtually every serious Obamacare-replacement plan.”