The impact of ObamaCare on doctors and patients, companies inside and outside the health sector, and American workers and taxpayers

Shopping to update your coverage on the health insurance marketplace may be annoying — didn’t you just do this last year? But letting the exchange automatically renew your coverage instead could be a big mistake. If you don’t like the plan you’re auto-enrolled in this year you may be stuck with it in 2018, unlike previous years when people could generally switch.

It’s all in the timing. This year, the open enrollment period, which started Nov. 1, will end a week from today, on Dec. 15 in most states. On Dec. 16, if you haven’t picked a new plan, the marketplace will generally re-enroll you in the one you’re in this year or another one with similar coverage.

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Growth in U.S. health spending slowed considerably in 2016, rising by 4.3 percent, after two years of higher spending growth spurred by Obamacare and prescription drugs.

The slowdown in health spending growth was seen broadly across all major forms of private and public insurance, and in medical services, prescription drugs and other goods, according to an official analysis released Wednesday.

But because health spending grew faster, as it has for years, than overall gross domestic product, health spending’s share of the economy increased to 17.9 percent in 2016, up from 17.7 percent of the economy the year before.

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Mr. Summers offers various caveats along with his prediction of a mass-casualty legislative event. But he largely accepts the Congressional Budget Office’s guess that 13 million more people will choose not to enroll in government health plans if insurance is no longer required (Summers rounds the guess down to 10 million), and he basically credits his former colleague Kate Baicker’s research suggesting people are more likely to die if they are not enrolled in a health insurance plan.

Mr. Summers is not alone among ObamaCare defenders in wanting to persuade people that the number of people covered by government insurance is the true measure of health. But the vast expansion of such coverage engineered by his old boss doesn’t seem to have made Americans healthier.

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The House and Senate recently passed tax reform bills because they successfully made the case that reform is a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity that is long overdue. It’s a compelling argument. When the last tax reform bill passed in 1986 the Internet was in its infancy and cell phones were the size of a briefcase. The world has changed, the argument goes, but our tax code has not.

What’s curious, however, is that the largest deduction in the tax code – the exclusion from income tax of employer-sponsored insurance, which dates back to the 1940s – is untouched by the reform bills. This omission is an enormous missed opportunity for American consumers and both political parties.

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Anne Cornwell considered two drastic strategies in her quest to get affordable health insurance premiums last year for herself and her retired husband.

One was divorce. Another was taking a 30 percent pay cut. She chose the latter.

That maneuver slashed the premiums for the couple, who live in Chattanooga, Tenn., from exorbitant to economical. Instead of $2,100 a month — the amount she had been quoted for 2017 — their premiums are just $87 monthly, her lost income more than compensated for by qualifying for insurance subsides.

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House conservatives said they won’t support a short-term spending bill to fund the government if it contains provisions to “bail out” insurance companies.

A deal between moderate GOP Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would likely attach two bipartisan measures to stabilize ObamaCare’s insurance markets to the spending bill in exchange for her vote on tax reform.

But conservatives say that wouldn’t pass the House.

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Though much of the discussion during Alex Azar’s confirmation hearing for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services centered on his ties to the pharmaceutical industry, a Senate panel also grilled Azar on payment reforms, the Affordable Care Act and electronic health records.

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On today’s show Josiah will be talking with Grace Marie Turner who is the President of The Galen Institute. She is an expert on public policy related to healthcare. She is an advocate for free market ideas to drive change in the healthcare system and facilitates think tanks across the country.

During this episode you’ll hear:

  • An inside look on the last year of healthcare debate and where she feels we are going moving into 2018.
  • Free market ideas she feels can realistically be legislated in the current political environment.
  • Her opinions on how our current President will use the regulatory agencies in the future to effect reforms, which either congress passes or does not pass.
  • The most important thing for congress to get right about healthcare in the next set of reforms.
  • What she believes the next 5-10 years of health policy look like.

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The Senate this week is expected to vote on a tax bill that includes a controversial provision to repeal Obamacare’s tax penalty on the uninsured. Democrats and some conservative policy analysts fret that if Congress scuttles the so-called individual mandate, insurance premiums will rise.

The reverse may be closer to the truth: Premiums for Obamacare policies next year will be so high that millions will be exempt from the tax penalty whether Congress repeals it or not. Even the skimpiest coverage now costs so much that many uninsured people with six-figure incomes will be exempt.

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Public sentiment over Obamacare’s individual mandate, which requires everyone to buy insurance, is divided, a new poll finds.

Nearly 40 percent of respondents in a poll from the left-leaning think tank Urban Institute want the mandate repealed, while another 29.6 percent think it should be kept. About 30 percent of respondents were undecided about its fate.

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