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

“When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, it required health insurers, hospitals, device makers and pharmaceutical companies to share in the cost because they would get a windfall of new, paying customers.
But with an $8 billion tax on insurers due Sept. 30 — the first time the new tax is being collected — the industry is getting help from an unlikely source: taxpayers.
States and the federal government will spend at least $700 million this year to pay the tax for their Medicaid health plans. The three dozen states that use Medicaid managed care plans will give those insurers more money to cover the new expense. Many of those states – such as Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee – did not expand Medicaid as the law allows, and in the process turned down billions in new federal dollars.”

“The top executive for H&R Block, the nation’s largest tax preparer, on Wednesday said he expected President Obama’s health care law to add “significant complexity” to next year’s tax season.
Speaking on H&R Block’s quarterly earnings conference call, CEO William Cobb said that the company was already taking steps to train its tax preparers based on the draft forms that the Internal Revenue Service has released to comply with Obamacare.
“As expected, the forms are very detailed and can present significant complexity, depending on a filer’s coverage status during the year, income level, and household composition,” Cobb said. “Depending on their situation, there are instances where filers may need to file multiple new tax forms and complete additional worksheets.””

“The ObamaCare exchanges that opened for business last fall to disastrous consequence are expected to be largely improved with better technology and more insurance plans when they re-open next month, but critics are still raising concerns about consumer costs and choices.
The Department of Health and Human Services said in a preliminary report released Sept. 23 that the number of insurers has increased by 25 percent, which officials argue should lower premium costs through competition, in addition to offering customers more choices.”

“When President Obama was promoting passage of health reform, he promised that the average American family would save $2,500 a year on health insurance costs. But since the law passed in 2010, costs have risen by more than $5,000.
According a report by the actuarial firm Milliman, a typical employer’s family plan cost a total of $18,074 in 2010 and $23,215 in 2014 — counting employer, employee and out-of-pocket costs.
The Affordable Care Act is not more affordable for those with employer coverage and certainly not for taxpayers. A new study from Bloomberg Government found that the health law so far has cost taxpayers $73 billion — including $2 billion on the website.”

“The positive effect of ObamaCare on the economy has been “staggering,” President Obama argued Thursday during a speech at Northwestern University.
“There’s a reason fewer [Republicans] are running against ObamaCare — because while good, affordable healthcare might still be a fanged threat to freedom on Fox News, it’s working pretty well in the real world,” the president said.
The day after the anniversary of rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges, Obama argued that a “dramatic slowdown in the rising cost of healthcare” had led to more individuals being covered and prices staying lower.”

“Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that the number of insurers participating in state marketplaces was on the rise. But it didn’t say whether that improved competition was taking place everywhere, or just in the urban markets that already had a lot of insurance carriers.
The week before, it announced that 7.3 million Americans were currently enrolled in marketplace plans created by the Affordable Care Act. But it didn’t share a breakdown by health plan, state, age or income.”

“The Supreme Court said Thursday it will decide whether private sector health care providers can force a state to raise its Medicaid reimbursement rates to keep up with the rising cost of services.
The justices agreed to hear an appeal from Idaho, which wants to overturn a lower court decision that ordered the state to increase payments.
A 2009 lawsuit argued that the state was unfairly keeping Medicaid reimbursement rates at 2006 levels despite studies showing that the cost of providing care had risen. A federal judge agreed, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.”

“Kevin Counihan, the new chief executive officer of healthcare.gov, expects Obamacare will become so user-friendly that “raving fans” will emerge for the U.S. health insurance enrollment program.
Americans buying coverage for 2015 using healthcare.gov should expect an easier experience than during its troubled first year, Counihan said yesterday in his first interview since starting the job Sept. 8. While shopping will remain imperfect, “it’s night and day from last year,” he said.”

“Thousands of consumers who were granted a reprieve to keep insurance plans that don’t meet the federal health law’s standards are now learning those plans will be discontinued at year’s end, and they’ll have to choose a new policy, which may cost more.
Cancellations are in the mail to customers from Texas to Alaska in markets where insurers say the policies no longer make business sense. In some states, such as Maryland and Virginia, rules call for the plans’ discontinuations, but in many, federal rules allow the policies to continue into 2017.”

“Who’s up for the latest batch of bad Obamacare-related news?
(1) Consumers brace for the second full year of Obamacare implementation, as the average individual market premium hike clocks in at eight percent — with some rates spiking by as much as 30 percent.
(2) “Wide swings in prices,” with some experiencing “double digit increases.”(Remember what we were promised):
Insurance executives and managers of the online marketplaces are already girding for the coming open enrollment period, saying they fear it could be even more difficult than the last. One challenge facing consumers will be wide swings in prices. Some insurers are seeking double-digit price increases…”