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

The five largest commercial health insurers in the U.S. have contracted merger fever, or maybe typhoid. UnitedHealth is chasing Cigna and even Aetna; Humana has put itself on the block; and Anthem is trying to pair off with Cigna, which is thinking about buying Humana. If the logic of ObamaCare prevails, this exercise will conclude with all five fusing into one monster conglomerate.

Many American conservatives oppose universal health insurance because they see it as fundamentally antithetical to a free society. “If we persevere in our quixotic quest for a fetishized medical equality we will sacrifice personal freedom as its price,” wrote a guest editorialist in the ]Wall Street Journal in 2009. But according to the Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank, ten nations freer than the United States have achieved universal health coverage. It turns out that the right kind of health reform could cover more Americans while increasing economic freedom.

The fiscal year 2016 budget resolution passed by Congress in May requires the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation to include the macroeconomic feedback effects of changes in policy on the budget when evaluating major legislation (CBO and JCT are the official number crunchers of Congress).

Specifically, Section 3112 of the resolution requires CBO and JCT to “incorporate the budgetary effects of changes in economic output, employment, capital stock, and other macroeconomic variables resulting from such major legislation.”

Voters will weigh many factors when assessing the Republican candidates for president in 2016, including their professional experience, leadership qualities, political dispositions, and other important attributes. These are all important considerations, of course. But governing is mainly a question of deciding on a policy and then implementing it. And so voters will be eager to hear what the candidates would actually do if elected.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/420039/who-will-be-candidate-plan-james-c-capretta

The House on Thursday voted to repeal a medical device tax that Minnesota’s medical technology sector lobbied extensively to kill.

Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., the bill’s lead sponsor, expressed delight at the lopsided 280-140 vote. “I knew support was broad and deep” to get rid of the 2.3 percent tax on device sales, Paulsen told the Star Tribune.

Minnesota’s other Republican representatives, John Kline and Tom Emmer, voted to kill the tax, as did three of the state’s five Democratic congressmen — Rick Nolan, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz. Concerns about the tax’s impact on jobs and innovation drove their votes.

The House defied a White House veto threat and voted Thursday to abolish a tax on medical device makers as a group of Democrats uncharacteristically joined Republicans in moving to kill part of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Thursday’s 280-140 House vote was exactly the two-thirds margin that supporters would need to override a presidential veto. The real suspense will come in the Senate, which voted overwhelmingly to repeal the levy in 2013, but in a nonbinding roll call lacking the political pressures of a veto showdown.

The recently announced proposed rate increases for many insurers offering health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges have brought renewed attention to instability in health insurance markets and the long-term sustainability of the exchanges – apart from disruptions that would ensue if the Supreme Court rules in King v. Burwell that the ACA does not allow premium subsidies in states with federal exchanges.

Big U.S. insurers are courting one another for possible multibillion-dollar deals. How they pair off could have significant implications for the managed-care industry, its individual and corporate customers, and U.S. medical providers.

Coinsurance? Premium tax credit? HMO and PPO?

Swimming through the health insurance word soup can be frustrating for anyone. Even though I cover health, I couldn’t define “cost-sharing reduction plan” until I Googled it just now.

And it seems I’m not the only clueless 20-something here. Young adults, who generally have little experience managing their own health care expenses, are finding it especially hard signing up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

More small businesses will have to adopt Obamacare’s insurance changes next year, which business groups say could result in higher premiums.

Obamacare required small-group healthcare markets to cover essential benefits similar to those in the individual market. Those include capping enrollees’ out-of-pocket costs and not excluding people due to pre-existing conditions.

Insurers also have to set rates using a single risk pool that includes all enrollees across their small group plans in the state.