Health insurers in Michigan are seeking another round of double-digit rate increases next year for plans they sell to individuals, although smaller increases for their small group plans.
Insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has asked state regulators for permission to boost its premium rates by an average 18.7% for individual plans, along with a 14.8% increase for its Blue Care Network individual plans. Those plans — closely associated with the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare — cover about 200,000 individuals in the state, down from 310,000 people as recently as a year ago.
. . .
The number of insurers carrying out one of the Affordable Care Act’s most idealistic goals continues to plummet, with just seven nonprofit member-run health plans set to take part in the law’s fourth enrollment season this fall.
That’s down from 23 such plans — co-ops, as they are commonly known — that started in 2014. Eleven are still in business, but four in Oregon, Ohio, Connecticut and Illinois will fold soon because of financial insolvency. Just Tuesday, the Land of Lincoln Mutual Health Insurance Co. was ordered to close by Illinois regulators.
. . .
If you’re looking to find a smashing Obamacare success story—a place where the nation’s biggest and most controversial new law in a generation has truly lived up to its promise—you might stick a pin directly in North Carolina.
The central pledge of the Affordable Care Act was to make insurance available to people who didn’t have it, creating a new safety net for millions nationwide. And in North Carolina that’s exactly what happened. People flocked to the program: More than 600,000 people there signed up for Obamacare policies in 2016, and roughly 90 percent of those got financial help to pay their insurance bills, also through Obamacare. Thanks directly to the ACA, the number of people without health insurance in North Carolina has plummeted by 30 percent in the past three years. Far more people are covered, and far more of them can afford their health insurance.
. . .
Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an analysis of Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange plan deductibles. Because the analysis presents data in a misleading way, it draws inaccurate conclusions about the current status of the ACA. This short post provides readers with key missing pieces.
Although it is more common to present the average than the median in statistical analysis, showing both is often done to describe the data being presented. HHS’ analysis relied exclusively on the median plan deductible ($850) and did not include the weighted average plan deductible.
. . .
President Obama on Monday called on Congress to revisit the controversial idea of providing a government-run insurance plan as part of the offerings under the Affordable Care Act.
What’s been described as the “public option” was jettisoned from the health law in 2009 by a handful of conservative Democrats in the Senate. Every Democrat’s vote was needed to pass the bill in the face of unanimous Republican opposition.
But in a “special communication” article published Monday on the website of JAMA, the American Medical Association’s top journal, the president says a lack of competition among insurance plan offerings in some regions may warrant a new look.
. . .
The Republican assertion that the administration is spending on health insurance subsidies without required congressional authority hasn’t gotten much news coverage. Many people dismiss it as yet another time-wasting attempt by Republicans to undermine the president’s signature domestic policy achievement.
But the central issue goes beyond health care to the fundamental division of federal power, particularly in a time of deep fissures between the legislative and executive branches.
Congress is supposed to approve every penny of federal spending. But the institution is in such partisan disarray that the appropriations process barely functions, giving rise to the temptation for presidents to assert greater power over the purse, marginalizing Congress.
. . .
Hillary Clinton reaffirmed her support on Saturday for creating a “public option” within Obamacare and allowing people to enroll in Medicare at age 55.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also called for a substantial increase in funding in medical clinics that serve low-income Americans, fully embracing a proposal from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
While Clinton has long supported the creation of new government-run insurance options and reiterated that support several times this year, Saturday’s statement comes three days before she is scheduled to make her first joint campaign appearance with Sanders ― who has championed government-run insurance and federally financed clinics throughout his career and during his own bid for the presidency.
. . .
In 2013, one Affordable Care Act component taking effect — a medical device excise tax — imposed a new financial burden on American Laboratory Products Co.
The 2.3 percent tax on revenue took a bite out of the company’s bottom line, “no question about it,” said Sean Conley, president of the family-owned-and-operated Alpco. “This obviously has an impact on where our funds go and makes it a bit more challenging to continue to create new jobs.”
The controversial medical device tax was a focus of conversation Friday when U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte visited the company for a discussion and tour.
. . .
As Hillary Clinton prepares to take another big step toward supporting liberal calls for universal health care coverage, a new study concludes that Donald Trump’s proposals for replacing Obamacare would strip nearly 18 million mostly low-income Americans of their current coverage.
The study by the non-partisan Center for Health and Economy provides the first detailed analysis of the presumptive GOP nominee’s scattershot proposals on health care. They include removing barriers to the sale of health insurance across state lines, expanding the use of health savings accounts to mitigate the cost of high-deductible insurance policies and allowing households to deduct premiums from their taxable income.
. . .
The release of the House GOP health-care plan last month was a milestone event in the long-running debate over the future of health care in the United States. Republican leaders had been promising to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — a.k.a. Obamacare — since it was enacted in 2010. But this is the first time that GOP leaders in Congress have presented a plan that could accurately be described as “the Republican alternative.” If the GOP is in a position in Congress to take up health-care legislation in 2017 (or later), this plan will almost certainly be the starting point.
House Speaker Paul Ryan deserves the credit for making this happen. He announced last fall after taking over the speakership that he wanted the GOP to offer a proactive agenda in order to give voters a clear idea of what Republicans would do if given the opportunity to govern. He followed through on that promise by getting his House colleagues to support plans for top-to-bottom reform of most key responsibilities of the federal government.
. . .