ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.
Despite promises from the President that his health care law would not make anyone lose their current health plan, colleges will soon stop offering low-cost plans to students. Since young people are unlikely to need the expensive plans mandated by ObamaCare, colleges are able to offer inexpensive plans. ObamaCare will change all that, as new coverage mandates will be implemented. “Without a number of changes, it may be impossible ‘to continue to offer student health plans,’ says an Aug. 12 letter sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius from the American Council on Education and signed by 12 other trade associations representing colleges.”
Blue Cross of North Carolina announced their rate increases for next year and blamed ObamaCare regulations for some of the added costs. “While citing rising medical care costs as a primary driver in the proposed rate increases, company officials said provisions of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act health care reform law also will impact rates charged under the two plans. Those provisions include requiring insurers to remove the cap on lifetime benefits, enhance preventive care coverage and allow unlimited mental health services, prescription drugs and other types of care.”
“ObamaCare expands coverage to millions of Americans, but, warns Professor Shirley Svorny, without stronger measures to expand the supply of healthcare providers and contain costs, we can expect a physician shortage and soaring premiums. The California State University, Northridge economist suggests options for lowering costs and dismantling state-level regulations that restrain competition and innovation.”
Large employers are expecting next year’s health costs increase more than they did this year, with ObamaCare’s new regulations taking much of the blame. “While there was uncertainty about the regulations determining grandfathered plan status, the majority of employers (53%) were still planning to make changes to their plan designs. To comply with the law, employers are having to remove lifetime dollar limits on overall benefits (70%), make changes to annual limits on specific benefits (40%), remove annual dollar limits on overall benefits (26%), and remove pre-existing conditions exclusion clauses for dependent children under age 19 (13%). Employers are still evaluating retiree health offerings as a result of new provisions related to taxation of retiree drug subsidies as well as changes in Medicare Advantage plans.”
According to an analysis by Weiss Ratings, several small insurers will be driven out of business by ObamaCare’s new restrictions. “Martin D. Weiss, president of Weiss Ratings, said in a statement that provisions in PPACA, such as the removal of certain reimbursement limits and mandated coverage for pre-existing conditions, will force health insurers to spend more on medical care. ‘Most large health insurers will be able to handle it. But we are concerned that weaker, less profitable insurers will be forced out of the market, reducing competition and ultimately leading to fewer choices and higher premiums for consumers,’ he said.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce formally objected to the recently published regulations to implement ObamaCare’s provision to “grandfather” existing insurance plans. The regulations are very strict, and would likely grant exemption to only a small number of current plans. Complying with ObamaCare’s regulations will lead to higher insurance costs for companies, or lead those companies to drop coverage altogether.
ObamaCare’s promises to lower costs are not working, according to a new study from the National Business Group on Health. Businesses are increasing or considering increasing cost-sharing , dropping retiree drug coverage to stave off rising health insurance costs in 2011.
“Employers and consumers sorting through their health insurance options may see a bump in their rates next year to account for the potential impact of some of the early elements of the federal health overhaul law, according to some health experts. Jeff Sher, an independent health insurance agent and consultant in San Francisco, said he’s anticipating employee coverage at mid-size companies to go up 13 percent to 15 percent. ‘Then we’re supposed to tack on several percentage points for health reform,’ he said.”
ObamaCare was sold with rosy promises that insurers would be immediately banned from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. But that just means higher costs. “Some families might face higher insurance premiums because of a requirement in the new healthcare law that plans cover sick children, state insurance commissioners said Friday… But the new rules are leading some health plans across the country to stop issuing new child-only coverage, the state officials said. That could force parents to buy costly family coverage where in the past they could have saved money by buying separate policies for themselves and their children.”
ObamaCare will raise costs for existing insurance policies. The state of Arizona recently notified employees that their costs will go up as a result of the new law. “The Department of Administration cited federal health reform as the reason the state’s health plans will carry ‘greater expenses and higher premiums for members,’ according to a June 30 letter sent to about 135,000 state and university employees and their dependents.”