Category Archives: Health Care

Special Investigation: How Insurers Are Hiding Obamacare Benefits From Customers

Source: Dylan Scott, Talking Points Memo, November 4, 2013

….Across the country, insurance companies have sent misleading letters to consumers, trying to lock them into the companies’ own, sometimes more expensive health insurance plans rather than let them shop for insurance and tax credits on the Obamacare marketplaces — which could lead to people like Donna spending thousands more for insurance than the law intended. In some cases, mentions of the marketplace in those letters are relegated to a mere footnote, which can be easily overlooked.

The extreme lengths to which some insurance companies are going to hold on to existing customers at higher price, as the Affordable Care Act fundamentally re-orders the individual insurance market, has caught the attention of state insurance regulators.

The insurance companies argue that it’s simply capitalism at work. But regulators don’t see it that way. By warning customers that their health insurance plans are being canceled as a result of Obamacare and urging them to secure new insurance plans before the Obamacare launched on Oct. 1, these insurers put their customers at risk of enrolling in plans that were not as good or as affordable as what they could buy on the marketplaces…..

Taking the leap

Source: Jennifer Grzeskowiak, American City & County, Vol. 128 no. 10, October 2013

Local governments move forward, despite debates over the Affordable Care Act. … Yet despite the uncertainty, many cities and counties have embraced their role as leaders in the community and are making sure they’re ready to help enroll and serve residents while determining what the ACA might mean for their own internal operations…

State-by-State Estimates of the Number of People Eligible for Premium Tax Credits Under the Affordable Care Act

Source: Gary Claxton, Larry Levitt, Anthony Damico, Rachel Garfield, Nirmita Panchal, Cynthia Cox and Matthew Rae, Kaiser Family Foundation, Issue Brief, November 2013

Key provisions of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) create new Marketplaces for people who purchase insurance directly and provide new premium tax credits to help people with low or moderate incomes afford that coverage. We estimate that about 17 million people who are now uninsured or who buy insurance on their own (“nongroup purchasers”) will be eligible for premium tax credits in 2014. This
issue brief provides national and state estimates for tax credit eligibility for people in these groups. We also estimate that about 29 million people nationally could look to new Marketplaces as a place to purchase coverage…

Effects of Federal Policy to Insure Young Adults: Evidence from the 2010 Affordable Care Act’s Dependent-Coverage Mandate

Source: Yaa Akosa Antwi, Asako S. Moriya, and Kosali Simon, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, Vol. 5 no. 4, November 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), we study the health insurance and labor market implications of the recent Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision that allows dependents to remain on parental policies until age 26. Our comparison of outcomes for young adults aged 19-25 with those who are older and younger, before and after the law, shows a high take-up of parental coverage, resulting in substantial reductions in uninsurance and other forms of coverage. We also find preliminary evidence of increased labor market flexibility in the form of reduced work hours.

Managing Prison Health Care Spending

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts, State Health Care Spending Project, October 2013

From the summary:
This report examines state spending on inmate health care and the factors driving costs higher. It also reviews strategies that some states have used to control these expenses while protecting public safety and maintaining or improving the quality of care that prisoners receive.

Medicaid in a Historic Time of Transformation: Results from a 50-State Medicaid Budget Survey for State Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014

Source: Vernon K Smith, Kathleen Gifford, Eileen Ellis, Robin Rudowitz and Laura Snyder, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, October 2013

From the summary:
The dominant forces shaping Medicaid during FY 2013 and heading into FY 2014 were the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the development and implementation of an array of delivery and payment system reforms. These changes represent some of the most significant changes to Medicaid since its enactment in 1965, and taken together, are transforming the role of Medicaid in the health care system in each state. At this time, the intensity of fiscal pressures and the focus on cost Medicaid containment were somewhat lessened as the economy slowly recovers; however, controlling costs and improving program administration are still important priorities for Medicaid program.

The findings in this report are drawn from the 13th annual budget survey of Medicaid officials in all 50 states and the District of Columbia conducted by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured and Health Management Associates (HMA). The report highlights trends in Medicaid spending, enrollment and policy initiatives for FY 2013 and FY 2014 with an intense focus on eligibility and enrollment changes tied to the implementation of the ACA as well as payment and delivery system changes. The report provides detailed appendices with state-by-state information and a more in-depth look at four case study states: Arizona, Florida, Kentucky and Washington.

Key findings from the survey include the following:
– Improvements in the economy resulted in modest growth in Medicaid spending and enrollment in FY 2013. In FY 2014, national enrollment and spending growth are expected to rise. States moving forward with the Medicaid expansion are expected to see higher enrollment and total spending growth driven by increases in coverage and federal funds.
– The implementation of the ACA will result in major changes to Medicaid eligibility and enrollment for all states whether they are implementing the ACA Medicaid expansion or not.
– Nearly all states are developing and implementing payment and delivery system reforms designed to improve quality, manage costs and better balance the delivery of long-term services and supports across institutional and community-based settings.
– Improvements in the economy have enabled states to implement more program restorations or improvements in provider rates and benefits compared to restrictions, but states also adopted policies to control costs and enhance program integrity.
– Looking ahead, FY 2014 will be a transformative year for Medicaid.

Affordable Care Act Resource Roundup

Source: varied

Health Reform Frequently Asked Questions – Kaiser Family Foundation

To search Frequently Asked Questions about Health Reform, enter your search terms in the box to the right. While we have made every effort to provide accurate information in these FAQs, people should contact the Marketplace or Medicaid agency in their state for guidance on their specific circumstances.

What Obamacare Means For You – Kaiser Health News

We’re here to help you navigate your way around what the new health law will mean for you, your family and what health care — and insurance — will cost you.

Affordable Care Act – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The Official Affordable Care Act website www.healthcare.gov

Obamacare: Understanding the Affordable Care Act
– Washington Post

Obamacare facts: How will the law affect you? – Christian Science Monitor

Financial Literacy and Consumer Choice of Health Insurance: Evidence from Low-Income Populations in the United States

Source: Sebastian Bauhoff, Katherine Carman, Amelie Wuppermann, RAND, Working Papers, WR-1013, 2013

From the abstract:
Under the U.S. Affordable Care Act (ACA), many low income consumers will become eligible for government support to buy health insurance. Whether these consumers are able to take advantage of the support and to make sound decisions about purchasing health insurance will likely depend on their knowledge and skills in navigating complex financial products. This ability is frequently referred to as “financial literacy”. This paper examined the level and distribution of consumers’ financial literacy across income groups, using 2012 data collected in the RAND American Life Panel, an internet panel representative of the U.S. population. Financial illiteracy was particularly prevalent among individuals with incomes between 100–400% of the Federal Poverty Line, many of whom will be eligible for subsidies. In this group, the young, less educated, females, and those with less income were more likely to have low financial literacy. The findings suggest the need for targeted policies to support vulnerable consumers in making good choices for themselves, possibly above and beyond the support measures already planned for in the ACA.