Obamacare Health Industry News Recap: 2/22-2/26: What we learned this week

Affordable Care Act

Obamacare Health Industry News Recap: 2/22-2/26: What we learned this week

Published on February 26, 2016

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  • “Are you prepared for new Obamacare tax forms?”

For tax year 2015, millions of Americans will be getting a new tax form related to health care reform measures.
Will you know what to do with yours when it arrives?
The Affordable Health Care Act mandated three new tax forms to be used as a kind of proof of insurance so taxpayers may avoid paying a penalty for failure to be covered. They are:

  • Form 1095-A, sent to those who purchase health insurance on government marketplaces.
  • Form 1095-B, sent to employees of businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees
  • Form 1095-C, sent to employees of businesses with more than 50 full-time employees

Many Americans will recognize form 1095-A from last year, but tax year 2015 will be the first time the B and C version are mailed out to insured employees.
Keep in mind, you don’t even have to wait for the tax form to arrive in the mail if you know you were covered for all of 2015, said Debra Hammer, spokeswoman for tax preparation giant Intuit TurboTax.
“Go ahead and file your taxes before the form arrives. And when you do get a form, just review it for accuracy,” Hammer said.
For those of you who do not have health insurance, or if you were only covered for part of tax year 2015, beware that things could get tricky.
Read more: (USA Today)

  • “Obamacare insurers see sign-up shift”

As consumers appeared sensitive to price differences for health coverage this enrollment season, California’s Obamacare marketplace also saw the largest four insurers lose a chunk of their combined market share to smaller competitors.
Last year on the Covered California exchange, which sells private Obamacare health insurance plans, four major insurers captured almost 95 percent of all sign-ups by customers.
However, Covered California revealed Wednesday, that those four carriers ended up with 90 percent of sign-ups.
And the big four attained a lower share of new customers — 83 percent of the newbies, an 11 percentage point decrease from last year, officials said.
Covered California is the largest of the 13 Obamacare exchanges run by individual states and the District of Columbia, with 1.57 million customer sign-ups in the most recent enrollment season. More than 439,000 new customers signed up this year.
Read more: (CNBC)

  • “Health-insurance costs rise by nearly 5%, latest CPI data shows”

According to the Labor Department, health-insurance costs rose 4.8% in the 12 months ending in January, the fastest rise since April 2013 and much faster than the broader rate of inflation.
Richard Moody, the chief economist at Regions Financial, reminds clients that the data reflects both rising premiums as well as increased co-payments.
The CPI calculation on health insurance is a complex one. Even the Labor Department says it can’t get reliable data on changes in quality, so it uses the indirect method of looking at changes in the prices of medical-care items covered by health-insurance policies as well as the cost of administering policies.
On the other hand, the CPI data seems to be reflective of reality.
A number of state regulators had approved big premium increases. In Tennessee, for instance, BlueCross BlueShield hiked average premiums by 36%, and Humana increased rates by 5.8%.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the weighted percentage change in the cost of silver plans offered under the Affordable Care Act this year is 3.6%.
Read more: (Marketwatch)

  • “Blue Cross Plans Hit Hard By Obamacare Losses”

The nation’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans have fared worse than publicly traded health insurance companies on the new health insurance exchanges, with many of these plans losing hundreds of millions of dollars last year on individual policies sold under the Affordable Care Act.
A new report from Fitch Ratings showed many had a decline in earnings and some companies even had a net loss, largely related to losses from policies sold to newly insured Americans who bought subsidized individual policies on public exchanges. The report looked at earnings of nearly three dozen Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. The losses have problem has largely been a major increase in medical expenses from these new patients, who were previously uninsured.
Read more: (Forbes)

We’ll let you know when we publish anything new.