Thursday, September 25, 2014

Obamacare Schadenfreude for a Stormy Morning

It's storming here: Raining hard with winds to 25.

Why You Are Likely To Lose Your Health Insurance -- No Matter How Much You Like It
Take a look at the chart below. It reflects the fact that all commercial health insurance must fit within four metallic bands: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Each band is defined by its “actuarial value” – which is the percent of covered benefits the plan is expected to pay. For example, a Bronze plan is expected to pay between 58% and 62% of health care costs for a representative enrollee. A Silver plan is expected to pay between 68% and 72%. And so forth.

Now here is what is really strange and it is explained superbly by Bob Graboyes, a health economist with the Mercatus Center, in this video. There are gaps between the corridors. And if your plan happens to fall within one of the gaps, it is no longer a valid plan.

Suppose you are in a Bronze plan with an actuarial value of 58%. Then, a year from now, because of price changes, technology changes, or some other kind of change, your plan suddenly covers 60% - 64% of expected expenses. That’s good for you, right? Wrong. Because your plan no longer fits into one of the metallic corridors, it’s no longer a valid plan – despite the fact that it has become a better plan!

Now let’s suppose you have a really good plan – a plan that pays 98% of expected health care costs. Given the large number of Democrat’s who believe that health insurance should pay almost every medical bill, you would think that the law passed by a Democratic Congress without a single Republican vote would strongly encourage such a plan. If you’re inclined to think that, you are mistaken, however.

Any plan that pays more than 92% of expected health care costs for the average enrollee is illegal under Obamacare.
Set aside whether a plan that pays 98% of costs is a good idea, why is it the governments business at all controlling how much an insurance plan pays.

Covered California Call Centers Fall Behind as Citizenship Verification Takes Precedence
Covered California has been juggling its resources to clear a backlog of cases requiring citizenship verification. That focus has led to serious problems at call centers and, apparently, in other areas.

Roughly 100,000 households in California were in danger of losing their health insurance by the end of next month because they had not verified their citizenship. The LA Times reports that half the backlog has now been cleared, leaving another 50,000 people who still need to be contacted.

In order to make all those contacts, Covered California pulled workers from the call center. Executive Director Peter Lee tells the LA Times, "We have taken a lot of people off the phone in the past month." Lee added, "Unfortunately, we haven't been answering the phone as quickly as we would like."
. . .
In addition to the slowdown at the call service center, Covered California was apologizing this month for 20,000 applications which it failed to send to insurers on time. The LA Times reports that this caused "delays and confusion" over coverage but does not specifically tie the applications failure to the push to clear the citizenship verification backlog.
It's not playing well in California:  Obamacare support sliding
The Affordable Care Act continues to divide Californians, who remain skeptical four years after its passage despite the state’s relatively smooth launch in which more than 1.2 million people enrolled in health insurance coverage.

A new survey released late Tuesday found some 42 percent of state residents generally view the law favorably, while 46 percent harbor unfavorable opinions. Support is down somewhat since May, before a wave of targeted TV ads began in a handful of competitive congressional districts.
Note the tone: "Those mean Republicans dare to use Democrats acts against them."

And in Minnesota: MNsure renewal process nonexistent Is Given an Overhaul
The Obama administration is redesigning and says that 70 percent of consumers will be able to use a shorter, simpler online application form to buy health insurance when the second annual open enrollment period begins in mid-November.

Federal health officials said Monday that the shorter application had fewer pages and questions, fewer screens to navigate, and would allow people to sign up with fewer clicks of a computer mouse.

The new application is intended for people with uncomplicated household situations It can be used only by first-time applicants, not by people who have previously obtained coverage through the federal insurance marketplace.

“The streamlined application will allow people to get through the process a lot faster,” said Andrew M. Slavitt, the No. 2 official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the federal marketplace.
. . .
“Instead of being user-friendly, the original website was user-hostile,” said Luke Chung, the president of FMS, a software development company in Vienna, Va.,
Healthcare,EZ? We'll see. It's not in governments nature to make things easier.

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