In the four years since passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we have heard a wide range of speculative predictions about how private employers sponsoring health coverage would respond. More recent evidence from one of the oldest and largest annual surveys of employer plans, by human resources consulting firm Mercer, provides stronger indications that employer sponsors are neither heading for the exit doors nor sitting by passively as broader implementation of Obamacare unfolds.
“When it came time to renew his company’s health plan last fall, Jerry Eledge found himself in a bind that many small-business owners know all too well.
On one hand, “it’s kind of a moral obligation” to offer insurance, said Mr. Eledge, who runs Community Quick Care, a growing chain of primary health care clinics in the Nashville area. And yet, premiums for his existing plan were going up 20 percent, while other group plans promised as much as a 50 percent increase, even as deductibles and co-pays were becoming less generous. “We found no really good alternatives for 2014 at all,” he said. “Before Gary came along, we weren’t sure what we were going to do.”
“A new analysis from Avalere Health finds that consumers in exchanges receiving federal assistance to reduce their out-of-pocket costs may experience inconsistent reductions in spending depending on the plan they choose.”
“Regardless of whether Obamacare is “repealed and replaced” or “fixed”, the future of consumer-driven health care will be defined by how comfortably consumers operate in a market where financial pressures lead them to seek out more affordable, high quality providers—in or out of network. They won’t tolerate being left sick and told to fend for themselves with nothing but their credit cards.”
“Two insurers selling health plans through Connecticut’s exchange want to raise rates by more than 10 percent next year, while a third wants to lower its premiums, according to proposals filed with the Connecticut Insurance Department.”
“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.”