The decision states face of whether to expand Medicaid to non-disabled, working-age, childless adults—the Affordable Care Act primary expansion population—involves tradeoffs. These tradeoffs include higher taxes, reduced spending on items like education, transportation, or infrastructure, or reduced spending on other Medicaid populations such as the disabled, children, or the elderly. The ACA funding formula allows states to pass a much greater share of the costs of covering non-disabled childless adults to federal taxpayers, but the tradeoffs still exist.
On Sunday, January 17—hours before the Democratic presidential debate on NBC—Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders released details of his proposal to replace the entire U.S. health care system with a universal, government-run, single-payer one. In Sanders’ eight-page campaign white paper, entitled “Medicare for All,” the self-described “democratic socialist” outlines his plan’s core principles.
Warren Gunnels, Sanders’ policy director, retained Gerald Friedman, an economist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, to come up with a fiscal score of the Sanders plan. Friedman estimates that the plan would require $13.8 trillion in new government spending in the decade spanning 2017 through 2016. Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute outlines why that estimate is far too low.
In November, UnitedHealth abruptly reversed its previously sunny take on ObamaCare and said that the company would have to pull out of the government-run exchanges if market conditions didn’t improve.
UnitedHealth’s bombshell raised the specter, once thought safely in the grave, of the “adverse selection death spiral,” the phenomenon where sick people are more likely to buy insurance, which raises the average expenditure, which means higher premiums, which makes insurance a worse deal for the healthiest members of your insurance pool, which means they drop out, which means your pool is even sicker and average expenditure goes up even more … and there goes the insurance market.
While Democrats are quite eager to point out that ObamaCare has reduced the number of uninsured by 17.6 million, they have conveniently failed to point out that in 2014, American taxpayers effectively paid about $6,000 for each person who became newly covered due to ObamaCare.
Is it really worth reducing worker wages by $1,200 apiece just to cover 2.3 million young adults? And leaving aside all the chaos created by millions of cancelled policies, premium increases paid by tens of millions who received no taxpayer subsidies whatsoever to soften the blow and similar market dislocations, are ObamaCare defenders really prepared to claim that it is worth paying $6,000 apiece to reduce the ranks of the uninsured?
President Obama is proposing to boost federal funding for states that choose to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare in a new effort to entice states to make the move.
Obama will propose in his 2017 budget to have the federal government pick up the entire cost of expansion for three years, no matter when a state decides to accept the expansion.
Under current law, states only got three years of full federal funding if they accepted the expansion in 2014. If nothing changes, states newly accepting the expansion would not get full federal funding after 2016 and instead would get payments that are somewhat less, eventually dialing back to 90% of costs.
Humana Inc. has added its name to the list of mega-medical insurers to report big problems under ObamaCare.
The Louisville, Ky.- based company does not expect to make enough money this year in premiums from individual plans to cover what it will pay out in claims, according to a regulatory filing made last week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Humana, which is being acquired by Aetna Inc., said it is still trying to figure out how big the gap will be.
Even with subsidies to make coverage more affordable, many people who buy health insurance on the marketplaces spend more than 10% of their income on premiums, deductibles and other out-of-pocket payments, a recent study found. Among those hit hardest, the researchers said, are people who spend nearly a quarter of their income on health care expenses.
“There’s been a lot of talk about how high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs are in the Affordable Care Act, and a lot of anecdotes about that, and this [study] quantifies that in a more systematic way,” said John Holahan, a fellow at the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center who co-authored the study.
The percentage of people without health insurance held steady in 2015, according to the Gallup polling organization, which last week announced that the un-insurance rate remained “essentially unchanged” throughout 2015. That wasn’t good news for the administration, which had hoped the pollster would confirm that ObamaCare had significantly reduced the un-insurance rate in 2015. Doug Badger, Senior Fellow at the Galen Institute, digs deeper by comparing the Gallup poll with government surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and the Census Bureau.
Health insurers in the Affordable Care Act exchanges will see changes from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services this year to strengthen the market, including eliminating special enrollment periods and an early look at plans’ risk-adjustment data, the top CMS official, Andy Slavitt, said on Monday.
Andy Slavitt, head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, spoke at the J.P. Morgan health conference in San Francisco, using the opportunity to announce new initiatives, including responding to the failure of ObamaCare’s exchanges. Although sugar-coating his diagnosis, Mr. Slavitt clearly knows exchanges are in trouble.
Mr. Slavitt proposes two solutions to force more people into the exchanges. First, he will tighten up the open season for enrollment. More promising, and necessary, is a new look at risk adjustment. Slavitt promises more announcements on managing ObamaCare’s risk pool over the next few weeks.
Better risk adjustment is critical, but administrative adjustments alone will not fix the exchanges.