Last month, the Kaiser Family Foundation released the results of its 2016 survey of 671 people who purchased individual market plans compliant with the new mandates and rules established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As many insurers announce large premium hikes for next year and others announce they are withdrawing from the market, the survey reveals that enrollees are increasingly unhappy with their coverage. Given that these enrollees are one of the primary groups that the ACA is supposed to be helping, their declining satisfaction is particularly concerning and suggests a change of direction in federal policy is warranted.
. . .
The Obama administration is seeking to limit short-term health policies that include features largely banned under the Affordable Care Act, a proposal that could crimp a profitable and growing business for some insurers.
Under a proposed rule released Wednesday, insurers would only be able to offer short-term health policies that last less than three months, and the coverage couldn’t be renewed at the end of that period. The proposal seeks to close a gap that has let healthier consumers purchase short-term plans that could last for nearly a year, sometimes using them as a cheaper substitute for ACA plans.
. . .
The Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate has at least modestly led to a rise in involuntary part-time employment, according to a Goldman Sachs study released Wednesday.
“We would estimate that a few hundred thousand workers might be working part-time involuntarily as a result of the Affordable Care Act,” said Alec Phillips, an economist at the investment bank, in a research note.
This is only a fraction of the 6.4 million workers employed part-time for economic reasons, he said, but would be a significant share of the “underemployment gap.”
. . .
More than two-thirds of state benchmark plans violate federal requirements to cover treatment for addiction disorders.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse surveyed addiction treatment benefits offered among 2017 Essential Health Benefits benchmark plans and found none offered a comprehensive array of addiction treatment benefits.
The report cites benchmark plans, which determine the minimum level of benefits available to those covered in state exchange plans, frequently “excluded or not explicitly covered benefits” related to residential treatment and the use of methadone as therapy.
. . .
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is making good on his campaign promise to close the doors on Kynect, the state’s Obamacare exchange. While Democratic former Governor Steve Beshear and a handful of Obamacare supporters have made waves about that decision, it has raised a bigger question: Does it make sense to run a state-based exchange?
Kynect is causing higher premiums for most residents of Kentucky, is not fiscally sustainable, and serves almost exclusively as a channel for Medicaid enrollment — Gov. Bevin is prudent to push to switch to the federal exchange.
. . .
Donald Trump’s inconsistencies on health policy are baffling experts and deepening the doubts that conservatives have about his candidacy.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has put forward a healthcare plan on his campaign website that leaves out many of the bolder promises he has made during debates and speeches.
Trump has repeatedly promised to “take care of everybody,” but his health plan includes no major expansion of coverage; one analysis asserted the proposal would actually end coverage for 21 million people.
Similarly, he has vowed to keep protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but his plan includes no such provision.
. . .
The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that the total net subsidy provided by the federal government for people under the age of 65 will amount to approximately $660 billion in 2016. The CBO and JCT project that this subsidy will rise annually at a rate of 5.4 percent. The forecasted net subsidy for the 2017-2026 period discussed in the report is $8.9 trillion.
Most of the costs of these subsidies can be attributed to Medicaid and to employer-sponsored health insurance coverage for those under age 65. The latter cost arises primarily because health insurance premiums paid by employers are exempt from federal income and payroll taxes. These employment-based coverage subsidies are expected to increase to $460 billion in a decade and will total around $3.6 trillion during the 2017-2026 period.
. . .
The looming collapse of the Obamacare exchanges is prompting calls for even more government involvement in healthcare — even a single-payer system.
It takes a special kind of reasoning to respond to the spectacular failure of government that is Obamacare by calling for, well, even more government.
Obamacare is faltering. No matter who wins in November, the next president will face a genuine crisis of the current president’s making.
And it defies logic to attempt to correct this entirely predictable failure of government with “fixes” that give the federal government even more control over Americans’ healthcare.
. . .
The president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) gives Obamacare a D+ for how it has performed in his state. In an interview with WRAL’s David Crabtree, BCBSNC CEO Brad Wilson conceded that he was a strict grader and that “on a good day” he might give the ACA a C+.
He acknowledged that the health law had provided coverage to 500,000 previously uninsured North Carolinians (“a very good thing”), but also warned that after two and a half years of operation, it was very clear that the financial underpinning of the Obamacare exchanges was not stable.
. . .
Obamacare supporters will say that increasing premiums don’t matter because anyone getting a subsidy has their premium share capped and they are therefore insulated from these prices and the follow-on big rate increases. The worst that can happen to them is that they will have to shop for a lower cost plan.
Those shoppers may well have to settle for plans with bigger deductibles and narrower networks to keep their premiums flat.
But the bigger thing this argument is missing is that half of the individual market does not get a subsidy in order to buy Obamacare health plans. The CBO has estimated that in 2017 both on and off the exchanges 12 million will get subsidies and 12 million won’t.
. . .