A project of the Galen Institute

Commentary

Alex Wayne
Bloomberg
Fri, 2014-10-03
"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."
Julie Appleby
Kaiser Health News
Fri, 2014-10-03
"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."
Guy Benson
Townhall
Fri, 2014-10-03
"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…"
Jason Millman
Washington Post
Fri, 2014-10-03
"Last month's launch of the Apple Watch is indicative of the big potential that companies are seeing in digital health. And the market is buying into digital health in a big way, judging by the record amount of money these firms have been raising this year. Through the first nine months of 2014, digital health companies have raised $5 billion, almost double what they did in all of 2013, according to publicly reported data compiled by StartUp Health. The actual number of deals are on a slower pace this year, which StartUp Health says is an indication that the relatively young market is maturing."
U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
TPNN
Fri, 2014-10-03
"One year ago, every network, every member of Congress and certainly HHS and CMS watched or tried to log into HealthCare.gov. It proved to be a long, long wait. The collective frustration at the end of the day was the site did not work. Despite repeatedly assuring both Congressional committees and the American public that the new marketplace and this bold new experiment on shopping for government controlled health insurance was to be smooth as silk and easy as pie, the rollout was a colossal failure for the HHS Secretary and her team. Ultimately, she admitted being responsible for the ‘debacle’ but not much has been done to eliminate the problems and clean up the process. HealthCare.gov is still broken. The rollout was a failure, but my hope is the bureaucracy has learned some lessons. Here are five things I hope we can file away as lessons learned."
Jay Hancock
Kaiser Health News
Thu, 2014-10-02
"Lance Shnider is confident Obamacare regulators knew exactly what they were doing when they created an online calculator that gives a green light to new employer coverage without hospital benefits. “There’s not a glitch in this system,” said Shnider, president of Voluntary Benefits Agency, an Ohio firm working with some 100 employers to implement such plans. “This is the way the calculator was designed.” Timothy Jost is pretty sure the whole thing was a mistake. “There’s got to be a problem with the calculator,” said Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University and health-benefits authority. Letting employers avoid health-law penalties by offering plans without hospital benefits “is certainly not what Congress intended,” he said."
Tricia Neuman and Juliet Cubanski
Kaiser Family Foundation
Thu, 2014-10-02
"The big story in the Medicare world these days is the slowdown in program spending. Based on our comparison of CBO’s August 2010 and August 2014 baselines, Medicare spending this year will be about $1,200 lower1 per person than was expected in 2010, soon after passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which included reductions in Medicare payments to plans and providers and introduced delivery system reforms that aimed to improve efficiency and reduce costs. By 2019, Medicare spending per person is projected to be more than $2,400 lower per person than was expected following passage of the ACA. Medicare spending projections in CBO’s August 2010 and subsequent baselines take into account the anticipated effects of the ACA, along with other factors that are expected to affect future Medicare spending. So it seems that the ACA may be having a bigger than expected effect, but something else may be going on here too."
Bob Laszewski
Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review
Thu, 2014-10-02
"Here unedited is what I posted on September 29, 2013: The Affordable Health Care Act's Launch On October 1st––So How Did it Go? Unavoidably, that will be the big question come Tuesday. But there will be much more to it than that. A 180-Day Open Enrollment––Not a One-Day Open Enrollment What happens on the first day, for good or bad, will constitute only a tiny percentage of the open enrollment period. Consumers will likely visit the new websites many times before they make any decisions, and that is exactly as it should be. Many of the health plans touted as being low-cost plans are going to be very limited access plans. It won't be easy for consumers to compare one plan's provider network to the other. In the best of circumstances, consumers will be confused by what is being offered for some time and will have to make a major effort to make sense of it for themselves."
Chris Conover
Forbes magazine
Wed, 2014-10-01
"The majority of Americans who continue to oppose Obamacare should be greatly pleased to learn that the Supreme Court is likely to get a do-over on this misguided and too-often-lawlessly-implemented law. Ours is a nation of fresh starts and second chances: it is only fitting that SCOTUS be handed an opportunity to undo the convoluted, flagrantly political and highly controversial decision it made in June 2012. As eloquently detailed by fellow Forbes blogger Michael Cannon on September 30, “The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma handed the Obama administration another – and a much harsher — defeat in one of four lawsuits challenging the IRS’s attempt to implement ObamaCare’s major taxing and spending provisions where the law does not authorize them.”"
John R. Graham
Forbes
Wed, 2014-10-01
"Consumer Reports has published an article demanding that we get “mad about the outrageous cost of health care.” Hey, I’m all for that. The article goes through the usual list of suspects, e.g. $37.50 for a single Tylenol, having two or three MRI scans when one will do, et cetera. The article also asserts that “health care works nothing like other market transactions. As a consumer, you are a bystander to the real action…” I could not agree more. However, I was a taken aback by a statement from George Halvorson, the former Chairman of Kaiser Permanente: “There is no such thing as a legitimate price for anything in health care,” says George Halvorson, former chairman of Kaiser Permanente, the giant health maintenance organization based in California. “Prices are made up depending on who the payer is."

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