Obamacare Health Industry News Recap: 8/3-8/7: What we learned this week

Affordable Care Act

Obamacare Health Industry News Recap: 8/3-8/7: What we learned this week

Published on August 11, 2015

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  • Obama Administration Urges States to Cut Health Insurers’ Requests for Big Rate Increases

The Obama Administration is trying to persuade states to cut back big rate increases requested by many health insurance companies for 2016.
Some carriers said they paid out more in claims than they collected in premiums last year, so they lost money on policies sold in the new public marketplaces. After finding that new customers were sicker than expected, some health plans have proposed increases anywhere from 10 percent to 40 percent.
Fortunately, increases of 10 percent or more are subject for review under federal rules.
Kevin J. Counihan, the chief executive of the federal insurance marketplace, is urging states to consider a range of factors before making their decisions.close and justify large proposed increases.
“Recent claims data show healthier consumers,” Mr. Counihan said in a letter to state insurance commissioners. The federal tax penalty for going without insurance will increase in 2016, he said, and this “should motivate a new segment of uninsured who may not have a high need for health care to enroll for coverage.”
Federal officials have also told state regulators that medical inflation will be less than what many insurers assumed in calculating their rates for 2016.
But Scott Keefer, a vice president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, which requested rate increases averaging about 50 percent for 2016, said his company had not seen an improvement in the health status of new customers.
Read more: (The New York Times)

  • Obamacare Exchange Customers: Health Care Still Costs Too Much

Recent data suggests that Obamacare is reducing the number of uninsured people in the U.S. However, a recent study shows that many Americans are still afraid they can’t afford medical services.
The survey revealed that costs are still a major concern for exchange customers.
Results showed only 24 percent felt they could get affordable care when they needed it, and just 16 percent felt financially prepared to handle future health care costs.
And 1 in 3 reported they had difficulty paying for out-of-pocket expenses when enrolled in a marketplace plan for a full year.
The report also indicates less than a third of exchange enrollees reported being happy with their current plans, with paying too much cited as the top reason for their dissatisfaction.
Read more: (US News)

  • Big states see big Obamacare gains, still face challenges

Two new studies show sharp declines in the number of people without health insurance in California and Texas after implementation of Obamacare.
Both separate studies also call attention to the many challenges that health-care reform advocates will face in getting the remaining uninsured people in coming years. Most of those people being Hispanic in both states.
Keep in mind, there are also about 1 million more residents of California, many of them Latino, who are uninsured because they are undocumented.
The ACA does not allow undocumented immigrants from buying federally subsidized health insurance on the exchange or getting covered through Medi-Cal. In an effort to cover these so-called “remaining uninsured,” Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, introduced the Health for All bill that is currently making its way through the legislature. (source)
The report also highlights California as among the earliest of what are now 30 states to have expanded eligibility of their Medicaid programs, which typically provide coverage at no charge to recipients, to include nearly all poor adults. Texas so far has refused to expand its Medicaid program to that population, despite the ACA’s provision that the federal government will cover the lion’s share of the costs from the newly eligible.
Read more: (CNBC)
 

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