A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Quality/Access"

Obamacare: Most-Used Plans Face Double-Digit Average Premium Increases

Guy Benson
Townhall
Wed, 2014-11-26
"Please consider Friday's 'Obamacare losing streak' post officially updated. Behold, the 'Affordable' Care Act at work. Congratulations, "beneficiaries" (via The Hill): The average price of the most popular ObamaCare health insurance plans rose 10 percent for 2015, according to a new study of premium figures published Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)...Not only are premiums increasing, but if consumers do not pick a different plan, they could pay more due to annual changes in how subsidies are calculated."

In Year Two, Obamacare’s Off to Another Bad Start

Bob Moffit and Kenneth Manyari Magro
The Daily Signal
Wed, 2014-11-26
"The implementation of the Affordable Care Act seems like an unending nightmare. Desperate for some good news, the White House is justly relieved and celebrating the fact that the government website is not plagued with last year’s disasters. But other big challenges loom, including the administration of the law’s hideously complex insurance subsidy system, as well as coverage and cost problems."

HHS Formally Moves To Close Loophole Allowing Plans Without Hospital Benefits

Jay Hancock, Kaiser Health News
Mon, 2014-11-24
"The Obama administration took another step to close what many see as a health-law loophole that allows large employers to offer medical plans without hospital coverage and bars their workers from subsidies to buy their own insurance. “It has come to our attention that certain group health plan designs that provide no coverage of inpatient hospital services are being promoted,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in proposed rules issued late Friday."

Alaska Doctors Overwhelmed By New Federal Rules

Annie Fiedt, Alaska Public Radio
Mon, 2014-11-24
"Dr. Oliver Korshin, a 71-year-old ophthalmologist in Anchorage, is not happy about the federal government’s plan to have all physicians use electronic medical records or face a Medicare penalty. A few months ago when he applied for an exemption to the latest requirement, he had to pick an exemption category that fit. “The only one that possibly applied to me was disaster,” Korshin says. “So I picked disaster and I described my disaster as old age and I submitted as my supporting document a copy of my passport.”"

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: November 2014

Kaiser Health News
Sun, 2014-11-23
"The latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that just prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment beginning this past Saturday, the uninsured remained largely unaware of its start, although about half of the uninsured expect to get health insurance in the next few months and seven in ten say that health insurance is something they need. Opinion on the law remains similar to past months – 46 percent say they have an unfavorable view of the law and 37 percent say they have a favorable view. Americans are divided as to what Congress should do next on the law – 29 percent say they support repealing the law entirely, 17 percent say they support scaling back what the law does, 20 percent support moving ahead with the law as is, and 22 percent feel that the law should be expanded. But like opinion on the law overall, partisans fall on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Post-Obamacare Health Reform: Will Health Insurers Be Redeemed?

John R. Graham
Forbes
Sun, 2014-11-23
"Robert Pear of the New York Times recently described the “symbiotic” relationship between the Obama Administration and health insurers. It was not always so: “But since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, the relationship between the Obama administration and insurers has evolved into a powerful, mutually beneficial partnership that has been a boon to the nation’s largest private health plans and led to a profitable surge in their Medicaid enrollment. “Insurers and the government have developed a symbiotic relationship, nurtured by tens of billions of dollars that flow from the federal Treasury to insurers each year,” said Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies at the libertarian Cato CATO -1.93% Institute."

Chance To Pass Free-Market Health Reform Just Ahead For GOP

Grace-Marie Turner, Galen Institute
Investors Business Daily
Thu, 2014-11-20
"The pending U.S. Supreme Court ruling on ObamaCare coupled with a small provision buried in the law could give Republicans in the new Congress the opportunity to power-boost free-market health reform. The high court will hear arguments, likely in March, on whether the Obama administration had legal authority to allow tax subsidies to flow through the health insurance exchange established by the federal government."

How a key Obamacare enrollment number slipped below the 7 million mark without anyone noticing

Phillip Bump, Washington Post
Thu, 2014-11-20
"In the blink of an eye, Obamacare enrollment numbers through August fell from 7.3 million to just under 7 million -- a level that dips overall enrollment under 2013 enrollment projections from the Congressional Budget Office. How'd it happen? In short, the administration combined Obamacare medical plan enrollment with dental plan enrollment for those August numbers -- while previous reports had kept the two numbers distinct. Here's how the Department of Health and Human Services reported enrollments in a report last April. This shows only the last line of enrollments, but the number of plans with data on "metal level" (that is, the quality of the plan), is fairly close to the overall number of enrollments. Underneath, the number of people who got standalone dental coverage. 8 million; 1.1 million."

Lawmakers voice anger with insurance exchange’s technical troubles

Lisa Stiffler, Seattle Times
Wed, 2014-11-19
"State lawmakers on Tuesday voiced their continued frustration with the technical problems still afflicting the Washington Healthplanfinder insurance exchange. On Saturday, the first day of enrollment for the second round of insurance signups on the exchange, the site was live for only a couple of hours before a technical error was discovered and the exchange was taken offline for repairs. Meanwhile, first-round problems involving the transfer of payment information from the exchange to insurance companies have not been corrected, despite assurances they would be fixed by now."

'Peak Obamacare': Will Exchanges End With A Bang Or A Whimper?

John R. Graham
Forbes
Wed, 2014-11-19
"The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear King v. Burwell, an important case about Obamacare’s subsidies (tax credits) to health insurers. Plaintiffs argue that in the 36 states with federal Obamacare exchanges, subsidies cannot be paid legally. If no subsidies can be paid, neither the individual mandate to buy health insurance nor the employer mandate to offer insurance can be enforced. Few people would voluntarily buy health insurance from an Obamacare exchange if health insurers on the exchanges did not receive subsidies to enroll people. The premiums would be too high otherwise. Experts expect that the Supreme Court might decide on King v. Burwell in July, in which case Obamacare will end with a bang."

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