Obamacare Health Industry News Recap: 10/26-10/30: What we learned this week

Affordable Care Act

Obamacare Health Industry News Recap: 10/26-10/30: What we learned this week

Published on October 30, 2015


  • Obama administration unveils health care premiums for 2016

A new sign up season starts Nov. 1 and rates are going up in many parts of the country. Federal officials said Monday that the price of the second-lowest-cost midrange “silver plan” will increase by 7.5% on average across the three-dozen states that rely on Washington to administer the health law for them.
According to a Health and Human Services report on premium data, (that hasn’t yet been made fully public), 60% of enrollees—across 30 of the largest markets in the U.S.—will see the average rate for that benchmark plan rise by 6.3%.
“For most consumers, premium increases for 2016 are in the single digits and they will be able to find plans for less than $100 a month,” said Kevin Counihan, CEO of the health-insurance marketplaces.
Unfortunately, some states like Minnesota will see increases jump from 14 percent to 49 percent for all five carriers selling individual policies on the insurance exchange.
Insurers sought increases for 2016 because many found business more costly than expected or have incurred losses. The law requires companies to sell policies to anyone regardless of their medical history, and with only limited variations on premiums.
CMS also said a new analysis based on the second open enrollment found that those returning consumers who switched plans within the same metal tier saved an average of nearly $400 on their 2015 premiums after tax credits as compared to those who stayed in their same plans.
Kevin Counihan, Healthcare.gov’s CEO, says that shows it pays to shop around.
(Read more: The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC)

  • Obamacare Shopping Is More Important Than Ever

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell urges current Obamacare customers to consider switching to another plan in 2016.
“Our message to returning marketplace customers is simple: Shopping may save you money,” said Burwell.
This message came just days before Sunday’s start of Obamacare open enrollment and after HHS released data about premium prices for 2016.
Burwell cited a new report which showed that Obamacare customers who re-enrolled in the same level of health coverage last year — but who switched to a different insurance plan — saved an average of almost $33 per month in premiums, or nearly $400 annually compared to what they would have paid if they stayed in the same plan.
And those who switched “issuers,” or insurers, within the same level of coverage saved even more: an average of $41 per month, or more than $490 annually.
There are two factors that can lead to sticker shock among returning Obamacare customers. One is a simple rise in the premiums of their plans over 2015 prices. The other is related to the subsidies that more than 80 percent of Obamacare customers receive.
(Read more: CNBC, Money, Kaiser Health News)

  • Opponents of Obama’s health care law take another challenge to Supreme Court

A new appeal was filed on Monday by the Pacific Legal Foundation challenging President Obama’s health care reform law.
The case contends that the law violates the provision of the Constitution that requires tax-raising bills to originate in the House of Representatives.
The new appeal, filed on behalf of small-business owner Matt Sissel, stems from the Constitution’s Origination Clause, which requires that the House be the first to pass a bill “for raising revenue.”
The foundation said the health overhaul is expected to generate roughly $500 billion in a dozen separate new taxes by 2019, clearly making it a bill to raise revenue. The appeal said the legislation made its debut in the Senate when then-Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., gutted an unrelated bill that already had passed the House and inserted language that became the Affordable Care Act. The original measure was designed to help veterans buy homes.
When the full 11-judge appeals court considered whether to hear the case, the four Republican-appointed judges concluded that the legislation should qualify as revenue-producing. But they would have ruled in favor of the administration anyway. They said the bill properly originated in the House, even if the measure was stripped of its original language.
Nicholas Bagley, a health law expert at the University of the Michigan Law School, said he doubts the court will intervene. “There’s disagreement on the appeals court about the rationale, but until there’s disagreement about the right outcome, the Supreme Court has no reason to take the case,” Bagley said.
But Sandefur said he hopes the court will agree to hear yet another case. The meaning of the Origination Clause “has never been before the Supreme Court,” Sandefur said.
(Read more: CBS News, U.S. News)

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