Category: New Health Care Law

Healthcare.gov: Are English-Speakers’ Civil Rights Being Violated?

This blog has not written about the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services weekly enrollment data for a couple of weeks, when we noted that they had “slowed to a trickle“. Well, Obamacare enrollment is booming again, hitting 7.1 million enrolled on January 16.

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Obamacare Enrollments Slow to a Trickle

Only 102,000 people enrolled in Obamacare via the federally operated exchange during the week of December 27 – January 2, bringing the total to 6.5 million. This supports my previous expectation that Obamacare enrollment is petering out.

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Podcast: Graham Explains the End of Obamacare’s Risk Corridors

One of NCPA’s successes in health policy last year was to influence the Congress to limit Obamacare’s “risk corridors”. This was the part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act that instituted an unlimited taxpayer liability to protect health insurers from losing money in Obamacare’s exchanges for three years.

Sean Parnell of the Heartland Institute interviewed Senior Fellow John R. Graham about the effect of the lame-duck Congress eliminating this unlimited taxpayer liability. You can listen to the 20-minute podcast here.

For a written description of this important win, please see here.

Milliman: “No New Hope” for Obamacare’s Risk Corridors

Actuaries at Milliman have published a new report on the consequences of the CROmnibus preventing health insurers from dipping into taxpayers’ funds to finance Obamacare’s risk corridors. The entire seven pages is well worth reading.

NCPA’s research on the open-ended liability presented to taxpayers by the risk corridors was a factor in the lame-duck Congress’ decision to limit the potential payouts to insurers with unexpected losses to (no greater than) the amount collected from insurers with unexpectedly high profits ― so-called “budget neutrality”.

Although giving their report the title “No New Hope”, Milliman’s actuaries are not entirely pessimistic about insurers’ ability to get taxpayers’ funds out of the risk corridors. Indeed, they note that the CROmnibus comprises only one piece of an increasingly complicated legislative and regulatory trail.

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This Photo is Worth a Thousand Words Explaining Obamacare’s Perverse Incentives

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One theme of NCPA’s Health Policy Blog is that health insurers in Obamacare’s exchange plans have perverse incentives to attract healthy patients and deter sick ones from enrolling. This is because the law forbids insurers from charging premiums that reflect applicants’ likelihood of incurring high medical costs. Although there are risk-mitigation mechanisms to overcome this, they do not appear to be adequate.

If this photo does not tell us that insurers want healthy people to apply, I don’t know what will.

How Obamacare Hurts Its Beneficiaries: Two Vignettes

This week, the mainstream media ran two stories about two Obamacare “beneficiaries” who were actually victims.

First, a woman whose husband is already extremely sick, and was subject to the risk of being unable to buy health insurance in the individual market if he lost his employer-based benefits. That was a legitimate problem before Obamacare. NCPA’s proposed solution is health-status insurance, or “insurance against becoming uninsurable”, a type of re-insurance. Obamacare’s solution is a federally regulated health-insurance bureaucracy:

The transition to Obamacare ― at least for a 59-year-old man and a 56-year-old woman in south Orange County ― wouldn’t be quite that bad. But it would be, in three big ways, far rougher and more frustrating than I’d ever dreamed.

  1. Obamacare brought us new health insurance options, but cost us our more affordable plans.
  2. We learned patients, but we couldn’t keep our doctors.
  3. The Affordable Care Act saved us money this year, but it didn’t alleviate our concerns about obtaining affordable medical care.

“Inexcusable”: Administration Over-Counted Obamacare Sign-Ups by 380,000

The media seems to think that Obamacare’s second open enrollment is going just swimmingly. (How could it be going worse than last year’s?)

Unfortunately, the Administration still isn’t counting last year’s sign-ups accurately. Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic has called the Administration’s over-counting of Obamacare sign-Ups “inexcusable“. And that’s from one of Obamacare’s biggest fans.

What happened is that the Administration counted 400,000 dental-only plans as Obamacare plans. On November 10, the Administration announced that 7.1 million people signed up for Obamacare as of the end of October, but that included the dental plans. The correct figure is only 6.7 million. And this figure was not disclosed by the Administration, but dug out by Republican Congressional staffers.

Administration Continues to Stonewall on Obamacare Exchange Enrollment

Back in May, the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) suddenly stopped issuing monthly reports on enrollment in Obamacare’s exchanges. These reports had been used by the Administration to ramp up the cheer-leading to Obamacare’s “successful” recruiting of 8.1 million people by the end of the first open enrollment on March 31 (or, actually, sometime in mid-April due to omnipresent technical glitches).

In a report subsequently issued for another purpose, HHS (perhaps unwittingly) disclosed that only 2.3 million people were enrolled in private insurance via an Obamacare exchange. The other 8 million of the 10.3 million now considered enrolled are in the category of charity care called Medicaid.

Naturalized Citizens Are Second-Class Citizens under Obamacare

I suppose many will typify this as just another Obamacare glitch, but Obamacare exchanges will treat naturalized citizens as second-class citizens for 2015 open enrollment:

HealthCare.gov’s new EZ application for coverage can’t be used by legal immigrants or naturalized U.S. citizens, prompting concern that many Hispanics and Asians will go right back into long enrollment queues this year.

While immigrants living in the country illegally cannot get coverage, millions who are lawfully present are entitled to the law’s benefits, as well as people who were born overseas and later became U.S. citizens.

Health Spending Grew 18 Percent Faster Than GDP in Twelve Months

According to the Altarum Institute, health spending rose 4.9 percent in the twelve months through August 2014. In the twelve months to July, it rose 5.1 percent, 18 percent more than the 4.3 percent growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP):

The health spending share of GDP was 17.4% in July. This is up from 16.0% at the start of the recession in December 2007. This increase is partly attributable to slow GDP growth rather than high health spending growth, as the July 2014 health spending share of potential GDP (PGDP) was 16.7%.