Tonight, the first Democratic debate of the election season will kick off. With two GOP debates in the rearview mirror, the first of the debates on the left should offer an opportunity to see how the candidates will distinguish themselves. In particular, one issue that’s been largely absent (at least from the GOP debates beyond “repeal and replace”) is health care. In this coming debate, and in the later GOP debates, the moderators ought to seek out the candidates’ positions on a slew of health care issues.
Almost half of the 32.3 million nonelderly people who have no health insurance could gain coverage through their state’s existing Medicaid policy or a subsidized exchange plan, according to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The federal government is hoping those uninsured will sign up for coverage during the Affordable Care Act’s upcoming open enrollment. The Congressional Budget Office estimates 33 million people will have a health plan through Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or the exchanges by 2016, a large jump from the current 17.6 million people who have become insured under the ACA.
Joshua Smith, a Rockland County insurance broker, was deluged with questions from clients after regulators said they were shutting down Health Republic Insurance of New York, which was known for having some of the lowest rates in the state.
“It’s been a week of craziness,” said Mr. Smith, who owns Vanguard Benefit Solutions LLC, which enrolled about 75 small businesses in Health Republic’s plans. “Lots of emails, lots of calls, and everybody is nervous about what is going to happen.”
In apparent recognition of the distinct unpopularity of the Affordable Care Act’s Cadillac tax—an excise tax on high-value, employer-provided health benefits—more than 100 economists have signed a letter defending it. As the Washington Post headline about the letter read: “101 Economists Just Signed a Love Letter to the Obamacare Provision Everyone Else Hates.”
Risk corridor data released on October 1 by the administration shows that insurers lost a lot of money on Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans in 2014. The ACA established a three-year risk corridor program to transfer funds from insurers with lower-than-expected medical claims on ACA plans, i.e., profitable insurers, to insurers with higher-than-expected claims, i.e., insurers with losses. Despite administration claims that incoming payments from profitable insurers would cover losses from unprofitable ones, the risk corridor program shortfall exceeded $2.5 billion in 2014. Insurers with lower-than-anticipated claims owed about $360 million, and insurers with higher-than-anticipated claims requested about $2.9 billion from the program.
One of the consumer complaints levied against Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) health plans is that their provider networks are often narrow,1 creating both a high ratio of patients to doctors2 and increasing the risk for out-of-network care.3 With respect to out-of-network care, when enrollees go out-of-network for healthcare, many Obamacare plans will not cover the costs except in the case of a medical emergency or if a prior authorization from the plan had been formally submitted and then approved by the health plan. Moreover, unlike in-network healthcare, out-of-network medical care does not have its annual costs capped by the Affordable Care Act to prevent catastrophic medical expenses.
Obamacare still hasn’t won over most voters who continue to say the health care law doesn’t offer them enough choices when it comes to health insurance.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 43% of Likely U.S. Voters view the health care law favorably, while 52% share an unfavorable opinion of it. This includes 18% with a Very Favorable view and 36% with a Very Unfavorable one.
A recent poll by Rasmussen revealed that just 37 percent of likely U.S. voters believe the government should mandate that every American have health insurance, down four percentage points from its previous poll and the lowest level of support since December 2013. In addition 52 percent of Americans now oppose government-mandated health insurance, the highest it has been since that December 2013 poll.
The operators of Maryland’s health insurance Web site improperly stored Social Security numbers and other customer information while awarding millions of dollars in contracts without ensuring the money would be spent properly, according to a state audit released Friday.
The audit is the latest in a string of reports uncovering loose spending and rushed decision-making involving the once-troubled Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, which the state hurried to create to help enact President Obama’s ambitious federal health-care overhaul.
Stephanie Douglas signed up for health insurance in January with the best intentions. She had suffered a stroke and needed help paying for her medicines and care. The plan she chose from the federal insurance exchange sounded affordable — $58.17 a month after the subsidy she received under the Affordable Care Act.
But Ms. Douglas, 50, who was working about 30 hours a week as a dollar store cashier and a services coordinator at an apartment complex for older adults, soon realized that her insurance did not fit in her tight monthly budget. She stopped paying her premiums in April and lost her coverage a few months later.