“SEATTLE — Washington State’s health insurance exchange is looking to be an attractive marketplace for new health insurance carriers, according to an early analysis of insurer premium rate filings by McKinsey & Company.
Four new insurers have applied to sell individual policies in the state’s exchange next year, making Washington among the states with the highest number of new exchange entrants of the 12 states where preliminary 2015 rates have been filed, according to McKinsey. If insurance regulators approve the new carriers, Washington will have 12 insurers on the exchange in 2015, up from eight participating this year.
Washington’s not the only state attracting new health insurance business. Michigan also has four new exchange applicants, and five new carriers have applied in Indiana, the state so far with the highest number of new insurance carriers showing interest, according to the real-time tracking of state insurance department rate filings that McKinsey is doing.”

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“The Supreme Court’s decision Monday saying that “closely held corporations” do not have to abide by the contraceptive coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act may not give those firms the ability to stop providing that coverage after all.
More than half the states have “contraceptive equity” laws on the books that require most employers whose health insurance covers prescription drugs to also cover FDA-approved contraceptives as part of that package. Unlike the ACA, those laws do not require that coverage to be available without deductibles or co-pays.”

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“The Supreme Court decision upholding Hobby Lobby’s ability to refuse to cover certain contraceptive services based on its owners’ religious beliefs has set off a wave of analysis of what the decision means. That will not be resolved anytime soon. But we do know what women think of the policy issue at the core of the case.
Overall, by a margin of 59% to 35%, women oppose the idea of letting companies deny coverage of contraceptives based on their owners’ religious beliefs. But women’s views on this issue–studied in the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll last month–differ by party, ideology and their religion.
White evangelical protestants, conservatives and women who are Republican are more supportive of Hobby Lobby’s position. Women who are liberal, Democrats, and protestant and Catholic are much more likely to oppose the company’s position.”

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“The general sense about the Hobby Lobby decision handed down yesterday, very much suggested by the majority opinion itself, is that the ruling is highly significant for the particular matter at hand (the fate of the HHS mandate) but of limited significance for larger and broader questions beyond. It seems to me, however, that roughly the opposite may be the case.
In fact, the majority decision breaks some important ground on the general question of the corporate form in our civil society and its standing as a medium for the practice of our rights. But it leaves rather open the fate of the HHS mandate, by raising (without answering, as it was not at issue in this case) the question of whether the “accommodation” the administration has pursued regarding religious non-profits may be adequate both in their case and in that of for-profit corporations.”

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“Today’s Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case should be seen as a clear and important victory for religious liberty. The majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, makes it clear that owners of closely held corporations, based on their sincerely held religious convictions, have the right to opt out of the so-called HHS mandate – the regulatory requirement that employers must include free contraceptives, sterilization procedures, and abortifacient products in their health-insurance offerings to workers. The plaintiffs in this case should be commended for having the courage to fight for their rights in court and for seeing their case through to victory despite the many obstacles they faced along the way.
But even in victory, it is hard to avoid the sinking feeling that having to fight at all over this issue is something of a defeat.”

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“From the beginning, the Obama Administration made it clear that a critical part of the success
of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was offering insurance to uninsured
individuals through a modern website that was simple and easy to use. To that end, the
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid
Services (CMS) invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing the HealthCare.gov
website (website) to make it the showcase of PPACA, since it would be the first tangible
product the American public would associate with the law. Both metaphorically and factually,
the website was designed to be the public face of President Obama’s signature achievement.
However, the Obama Administration failed to task any one individual or entity within HHS or
CMS with ensuring the success of the public face of Obamacare.

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“There are hundreds of aspects of Obamacare that people argue over. But there’s one question that matters above all others: does the Affordable Care Act live up to its name? Does it make health insurance less expensive? Last November, our team at the Manhattan Institute published a study indicating that Obamacare had increased the underlying cost of individually-purchased health insurance in the average state by 41 percent in 2014, relative to 2013. We’ve now redone the study on a county-by-county basis, complete with a brand-new interactive map. Depending on where you live, the results may surprise you.
Our new county-by-county analysis was led by Yegeniy Feyman, who compiled the county-based data for 27-year-olds, 40-year-olds, and 64-year-olds, segregated by gender. We were able to obtain data for 3,137 of the United States’ 3,144 counties.”

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“If you offer it, will they come? Insurers and some U.S. senators have proposed offering cheaper, skimpier “copper” plans on the health insurance marketplaces to encourage uninsured stragglers to buy. But consumer advocates and some policy experts say that focusing on reducing costs on the front end exposes consumers to unacceptably high out-of-pocket costs if they get sick. The trade-off, they say, may not be worth it.
“It’s a false promise of affordability,” says Sabrina Corlette, project director at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms. “If you ever have to use the plan, you won’t be able to afford it.””

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“The Supreme Court’s decision on contraceptives and employer health plans could affect companies and workers far beyond Hobby Lobby and the other plaintiffs.
But nobody seems to know how far.
The ruling applies to “closely held for-profit corporations,” a small subset of employers, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority. But in a dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggests the impact will be far broader.
“Although the court attempts to cabin its language to closely held corporations, its logic extends to corporations of any size, public or private,” she said.”

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“The Supreme Court today rang a victory bell for religious freedom as it ruled 5-4 that “HHS’s contraceptive mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion” of three closely held companies – Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood Specialties, and Mardel.
The companies objected to the Obama administration’s mandate that they must provide, at no cost to their employees, coverage for products that can terminate life in the womb, violating their religious beliefs.”

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