A provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows insurers to charge smokers higher premiums may have discouraged smokers from signing up for
insurance, undercutting a major goal of the law, according to a study published this month.
The surcharges, of up to 50 percent over nonsmokers’ premiums, also showed no sign of encouraging people to quit.
The Affordable Care Act eliminated insurers’ ability to charge higher premiums based on whether a person was sick. But it does allow them to vary premiums with age, geography, family size and smoking status.
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The Republican party’s 2016 platform, unveiled Monday, echoes many of the proposals included in the health care plan House Republicans laid out last month.
The platform calls for the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act and for state control of insurance markets. It backs selling insurance across state lines and states that insurance should be more portable so that consumers can move from job to job with the same policy.
“We must recover the traditional patient-physician relationship based on mutual trust, informed consent, and confidentiality,” the platform reads.
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State and federal officials have negotiated a deal to delay a federal policy that threatened to destabilize health insurance rates at small businesses across Massachusetts.
Governor Charlie Baker’s administration said Tuesday that the agreement will postpone for one year a piece of the Affordable Care Act that requires a change in the way small businesses’ insurance rates are calculated. Massachusetts will have to phase out its current rules and switch to the federal formula by 2019.
The rules apply to businesses with 50 or fewer employees.
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Top insurer UnitedHealth Group said Tuesday its 2017 earnings will benefit as it mostly exits the ObamaCare exchanges, its worst-performing business line.
UnitedHealth reported second-quarter earnings of $1.96 per share, up 13% from a year earlier, handily beating analysts’ estimates of $1.89. Still, the company just slightly raised its full-year earnings outlook to $7.80-$7.95 a share from $7.75-$7.95, roughly in line with consensus estimates for $7.89.
The high end of its full-year 2016 earnings guidance held steady because worse-than-expected results in its ObamaCare individual market business called for a conservative outlook, management said in an earnings call.
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The Republican leading the House caucus’ campaign arm said the party’s presumptive nominee will work with the caucus to replace the Affordable Care Act if elected in November.
“House Republicans have put forward patient-centered health care that will be affordable for families,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said Monday in a speech at the Republican National Convention. “We’re offering a real alternative, and showing voters that Republicans are the party of new and good ideas, while Democrats are clearly the party of the failed status quo, especially on health care.”
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California’s Obamacare customers can expect a hefty increase in their monthly health insurance premiums next year.
Covered California, the state’s Obamacare marketplace, released proposed premiums Tuesday morning, and the statewide average increase for 2017 will be 13.2 percent.
Peter Lee, the agency’s executive director, cited factors including increased medical costs and the end of a federal “reinsurance” program as main drivers of the increase.
Blue Shield and Anthem Blue Cross customers will face the steepest increases.
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Fifteen of the health insurance cooperatives started with federal dollars through the Affordable Care Act have failed — four of them just this month — saddling taxpayers with an estimated $1.7 billion in bad loans.
Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative is one of seven still standing.
But the next few months will determine whether Common Ground, which insures about 20,000 in 19 counties in eastern Wisconsin, manages to survive.
“I’m confident we’ll make it through this year,” said Cathy Mahaffey, its chief executive officer since 2014.
Beyond that, though, Common Ground faces an uncertain future.
The cooperative has lost $84.8 million from its inception in 2012 through the end of last year and owes the federal government $107.7 million.
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The Trump health plan reportedly would make 18 million people uninsured by 2017. But by entirely repealing Obamacare and all its attendant taxes and regulations, the plan also is expected to reduce net federal savings over 10 years of $583 billion and reduce premiums in the non-group market by at least 20%. Progressives surely would be aghast at this prospect and you can be certain that unless Trump modifies the plan’s key features, Hillary Clinton will make it an important campaign issue this fall. But what should the average American think about this trade-off? It all comes down to how much Americans should be forced to pay to prevent each year of being uninsured.
To figure this out, we need to know the total amount that Americans would save if Obamacare were repealed and the net increase in uninsured person-years that would result.
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For several years, the Obama administration has urged state insurance regulators to use tools provided by the Affordable Care Act to hold down health care premiums.
Now federal officials will have a chance to practice what they preach as they confront big increases proposed in several states where they are responsible for reviewing rates.
Federal officials defer to the insurance commissioners in 46 states deemed to have “effective rate review” programs. But in Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming, the federal government is in charge of reviewing rates.
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Until now, health care hasn’t been a big part of Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency.
But conventions are about more than the nominee, and Republicans are likely to have something to say about issues including Obamacare, abortion, and perhaps even medical research.
Here are the five biggest things to watch in health and medicine:
- Will Pence take the pressure off on abortion issues?
- Will Republicans hit Clinton on drug prices?
- Who likes Paul Ryan’s Obamacare repeal plan?
- Will Zika be discussed?
- Will Trump say anything about medical research?