“The Supreme Court’s ruling this week that “closely-held” companies like Hobby Lobby aren’t obligated to comply with the health law’s contraception mandate because it conflicts with their religious beliefs has put a renewed focus on the employer-sponsored healthcare.
Consumers getting their healthcare through their employers is a deeply ingrained practice in the United States (although that trend has been diminishing in recent years), and the court ruling has sparked all kinds of arguments pertaining to that the arrangement. Some have concluded that it will lead workers to seek alternatives outside the workplace, which they can find on the federal health exchanges created under Obamacare.
However, a new poll from Morning Consult found that the public isn’t there yet.
In fact, a strong majority of workers are worried that their employers will stop offering health insurance altogether and move them into the Obamacare exchanges.

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“Robert Gibbs’ prediction that Obamacare’s employer mandate would — and perhaps should — be jettisoned shocked Democrats back in April.
By July, the former aide and longtime confidant of President Barack Obama had a lot more company. More and more liberal activists and policy experts who help shape Democratic thinking on health care have concluded that penalizing businesses if they don’t offer health insurance is an unnecessary element of the Affordable Care Act that may do more harm than good. Among them are experts at the Urban Institute and the Commonwealth Fund and prominent academics like legal scholar Tim Jost.
The employer mandate, Jost wrote in a Health Affairs post in June, “cries out for repair.” Repealing it “might not be such a bad idea,” if it’s replaced with something better for workers and busi

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“WASHINGTON — More than half of privately insured women are getting free birth control under President Barack Obama’s health law, a major coverage shift that’s likely to advance.
This week the Supreme Court allowed some employers with religious scruples to opt out, but most companies appear to be going in the opposite direction.
Recent data from the IMS Institute document a sharp change during 2013. The share of privately insured women who got their birth control pills without a copayment jumped to 56 percent, from 14 percent in 2012. The law’s requirement that most health plans cover birth control as prevention, at no additional cost to women, took full effect in 2013.”

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“WASHINGTON — How much distance from an immoral act is enough?
That’s the difficult question behind the next legal dispute over religion, birth control and the health law that is likely to be resolved by the Supreme Court.
The issue in more than four dozen lawsuits from faith-affiliated charities, colleges and hospitals that oppose some or all contraception as immoral is how far the Obama administration must go to accommodate them.
The justices on June 30 relieved businesses with religious objections of their obligation to pay for women’s contraceptives among a range of preventive services the new law calls for in their health plans.
Religious-oriented nonprofit groups already could opt out of covering the contraceptives. But the organizations say the accommodation provided by the administration does not go far enough because, though they are not on the hook financially, they remain complicit in the provision of government-approved contraceptives to women covered by their plans”

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“WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, reeling from back-to-back blows from the Supreme Court this week, is weighing options that would provide contraceptive coverage to thousands of women who are about to lose it or never had it because of their employers’ religious objections.
The administration must move fast. Legal and health care experts expect a rush to court involving scores of employers seeking to take advantage of the two decisions, one involving Hobby Lobby Stores, which affects for-profit businesses, and the other on Wheaton College that concerns religiously affiliated nonprofit groups. About 100 cases are pending.
One proposal the White House is studying would put companies’ insurers or health plan administrators on the spot for contraceptive coverage, with details of reimbursement to be worked out later.”

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“Obamacare advocates in New York have had good reason to celebrate. In contrast to Oregon’s and other state-based exchanges, New York’s exchange rollout was a relatively smooth, successful affair. Indeed by the time open enrollment closed, nearly 1 million enrollees were notched— split between Medicaid (525,000) and private health insurance (370,000). Moreover, state officials estimate that some 80% of enrollees were previously uninsured.
Now for some cold water: New York still has a long way to go. While the state surpassed its first-year goal, total enrollment remains only around 30% of the total eligible population.
Moreover, New York State’s Medicaid program, already among the nation’s largest and most expensive, just grew by 10%. And 87% of the new Medicaid enrollees were eligible under New York’s generous, old rules. This means the state will be picking up 50% of the cost for much of this population—not the 10% headline rate for the newly eligible, childless adult population.

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“At least three health insurers plan to offer insurance statewide in Georgia’s exchange for 2015. This year, only one health plan – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia – went statewide in the exchange. And the proposed Blue Cross rates for next year’s exchange will decrease by an average of 7 percent. Those were among the immediate highlights of data on proposed premiums, released by Georgia’s department of insurance, from the health plans seeking to participate in the state’s exchange next year. A total of nine insurers are seeking to offer exchange plans in 2015. That’s up from five insurers for the current year.”

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“Sicker patients have prompted Denver Health to ask for a 17.5 percent hike next year in health insurance rates while the biggest carrier in western Colorado, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, is working to keep rates flat in high-cost resort counties.
When Colorado’s insurance regulators unveiled proposed 2015 rates for health insurance last week, the numbers were all over the map. (Click here to read Consumers demand lower rates, universal care.)
Denver Health provides care to patients of all ages. Some who have signed up through Colorado’s Health exchange are sicker and Denver Health is therefore proposing a rate increase. (Photo courtesy of Denver Health.)
Denver Health provides care to patients of all ages. Some who have signed up through Colorado’s Health exchange are sicker and Denver Health is therefore proposing a rate increase.

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“Some New Yorkers are in sticker shock after receiving notices from their insurance companies saying that they have asked for significant rate increases through the state’s health exchange next year.
The exchange, which has prided itself on being affordable, is now facing requests for increases as high as 28 percent for some customers of MetroPlus, a new entry to the individual insurance market and one of the least costly — and most popular — plans on the exchange this year.”

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“Obamacare’s technological nightmare might not be over yet.
Due to problems with the backend of the website, the Department of Health and Human Services reported last month that there were nearly 3 million inconsistencies on applications for health insurance. At the time, officials assured the public they were aggressively working to solve the problem.
But now, a new inspector general report reveals that nearly nine out of 10 erroneous applications have yet to be resolved, and the government isn’t really sure how to fix the problem.
The IG said the primary issues with the applications revolve around verifying citizenship status and income. Under the law, legally residing immigrants can receive subsidies, while undocumented residents cannot. Problems verifying income have also affected subsidy eligibility and the amount those who qualified have received. If enrollees received too much in subsidies, they will be required to pay them back through tax returns next year.”

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