Category: Health Insurance

Tax Preparers Earned Bounties to Sign People Up For ObamaCare

ObamaCare’s open enrollment was supposed to close on March 31. Then it was extended to April 15 — Tax Day. The Administration chose that date for a deliberate purpose: Tax preparers were paid to enroll people in ObamaCare. The Administration has a number of ways to pay people who are not licensed insurance agents or brokers to recruit ObamaCare applicants. A self-employed tax preparer of my acquaintance told me that his tax-preparation software vendor offered him $50 “per scalp” that he enrolled in ObamaCare. (Here’s the vendor’s website offering “referral fees“.)

Employers Switch from Commercial Insurance to Self-Insured Plans

According to Citibank’s top ranked analyst Carl McDonald:

By our analysis, since 2002, risk enrollment at the publicly traded plans has fallen by over 14 million lives…The emergence of private exchanges that rely on a risk model (like the exchange product offered by Aon Hewitt) could help slow the loss of risk enrollment but the benefits of self-funding are so significant for many employers that we believe risk enrollment will continue to shrink.

Cooking the ObamaCare Stats?

caduceus_blogOut of the blue, the Census Bureau has changed how it counts health insurance — at the precise moment when ObamaCare is roiling the insurance markets.

Since 1987, the Current Population Survey, or CPS, has collected information on the health-insurance coverage status of Americans. The annual reports are widely cited because their large sample sizes improve accuracy, the data are gathered constantly, and they tease out state-by-state details. But this year the Census revamped the CPS household insurance questions, muddying comparisons between the pre- and post-ObamaCare numbers. The results of the new method will be disclosed this fall. (WSJ)

Deductibles in ObamaCare Exchanges

dfgFrom the Heritage Foundation, ObamaCare in Pictures.

Early ObamaCare Exchange Enrollees Are Much, Much Sicker Than Other Insureds

Express Scripts, the country’s largest provider of pharmacy benefits, has released its First Look at medication utilization in the exchanges.

Variety of Medicine in Pill Bottles[U]se of specialty medications was greater among Exchange enrollees versus patients enrolled in a commercial health plan. Approximately 1.1% of total prescriptions in Exchange plans were for specialty medications, compared to 0.75% in commercial health plans, a 47% difference. Increased volume for higher cost specialty drugs can have a significant impact on the cost burdens…Specialty medications now account for more than a quarter of the country’s total pharmacy spend.

In total spend, six of the top 10 costliest medications used by Exchange enrollees have been specialty drugs. In commercial health plans, only four of the top 10 costliest medications were specialty.

What Are the Mortality Risks of Being Uninsured?

This is from Chris Conover:

Since the evidence is equivocal at best, let us — for purposes of discussion — average the point estimates from 4 studies…and compare this relative mortality risk (1.22) to other factors that elevate the annual probability of death.

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Parsing the Numbers

This is from RAND:

  • Of those who were previously uninsured but are now insured, 7.2 million gained [employer-sponsored insurance], 3.6 million are now covered by Medicaid, 1.4 million have signed up through a marketplace, while the remainder gained coverage through other sources.
  • Our estimates suggest that only about one-third of new marketplace enrollees were previously uninsured. While this percentage seems low in absolute terms, it is slightly higher than an earlier figure reported by McKinsey & Company.
  • Less than one million who previously had individual market insurance transitioned to being uninsured.

Paying For Health Care Second Most Important Driver of Canadians’ Financial Planning

Dundee Goodman, a Canadian wealth-management firm, surveyed clients with over C$100,000 in investable assets. Investing for retirement income was their most important goal. The second was health care.

While investors under 50 (34 percent) are least likely to identify health care as a priority, the overall average was 46 percent…And even among respondents with $1 million+ to invest, 41 percent identify “health-care needs” as an important investment objective.

This may come as a surprise to those who believed President Obama when he said that expanded health insurance would prevent people from going bankrupt because of ill health. Even in Canada, with a single-payer, government-monopoly health system that is the envy of central planners in the U.S., illness seems to threaten financial security.

As we have previously reported, the expansion of health insurance does not seem to have much impact on personal finance:

The Canadian-based Fraser Institute finds that bankruptcy rates in Canada are very similar — if not slightly higher — than rates found in the United States and there is no difference between bankruptcy rates in Massachusetts and the United States as a whole.

More and More of Your Income is Health Insurance

In 1980, in-kind benefits and employer and government spending on health insurance accounted for just 6% of the after-tax incomes of households in the middle one-fifth of the distribution. By 2010 these in-kind income sources represented 17% of middle class households’ after-tax income (see Chart 4). The income items missed by the Census Bureau are increasing faster than the income items included in its money income measure.

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Source: Brookings.

The Enrollment Numbers Aren’t What You Think

Confident BusinesswomanA new analysis finds that many people who signed up for a Covered California health insurance exchange plan are likely to drop the coverage for a good reason: They found insurance elsewhere. Researchers at the U.C. Berkeley Labor Center released estimates Wednesday showing that about 20 percent of Covered California enrollees are expected to leave the program because they found a job that offers health insurance. Another 20 percent will see their incomes fall and become eligible for Medi-Cal, the state’s insurance program for people who are low income. (Kaiser Health News)