Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ongoing Obamacare Schadenfreude

Just a little cleanup operation to keep the Obamacare Schadenfreude fridge from getting moldy

Many insured struggle with medical bills
A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research may help explain why President Barack Obama faces such strong headwinds in trying to persuade the public that his health care law is holding down costs. The survey found the biggest financial worries among people with so-called high-deductible plans that require patients to pay a big chunk of their medical bills each year before insurance kicks in.

Such plans already represented a growing share of employer-sponsored coverage. Now, they're also the mainstay of the new health insurance exchanges created by Obama's law.

Edward Frank of Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania, said he bought a plan with a $6,000 deductible last year through HealthCare.gov. That's in the high range, since deductibles for popular silver plans on the insurance exchanges average about $3,100 — still a lot.

"Unless you get desperately ill and in the hospital for weeks, it's going to cost you more to have this plan and pay the premiums than to pay the bill just outright," said Frank, who ended up paying $4,000 of his own money for treatment of shoulder pain.

"The deductibles are so high, you don't get much of anything out of it," said Frank, who is in 50s and looking for a new job.

The poll found that people respond to the hit on their wallets in ways that may not help their health:

  • Nineteen percent of all privately insured adults said they did not go to the doctor when they were sick or injured, because of costs. Among those with high-deductible plans, the figure was 29 percent.
  • Seventeen percent skipped a recommended test or treatment; it was 23 percent among those with high-deductible plans.
  • Eighteen percent of all adults went without a physical exam or other preventive care, 24 percent among those with high-deductible plans.
It used to be you had a choice between the downsides of high premium, low deductible plans and low premium, high deductible plans. Now, thanks to Obamacare, you have the disadvantages of both.

Louisiana, Iowa ObamaCare premiums rise by double digits
State regulators approved significant premium hikes on Louisiana and Iowa’s ObamaCare exchanges this week, with average increases in each state reaching double digits.

The increases came in the final weeks of tight Senate races in each state that could decide whether Republicans can take Senate control from Democrats, according to the story by The Daily Caller.

In Louisiana, 2015 plans will be much costlier, according to The Times-Picayune. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, the exchange’s largest insurer, is increasing prices 18.3 percent to 19.7 percent for three different plans. More than 50,000 customers are currently covered by those plans. However, the insurer isn’t hiking rates on customers with narrowed networks in New Orleans, Baton Rouge or Shreveport.

Humana will up its exchange premium rates by 9.9 percent, after backing down from its initial proposal of 15.5 percent. Vantage Health Plan, like Blue Cross Blue Shield, is going ahead with its initial proposal, a 15.89 percent hike.

Iowa also approved large rate hikes Thursday. CoOportunity adjusted its premium hikes up to 19 percent on average. The other top exchange insurer, Coventry will increase rates by 8.7 percent.
Remind me, what were the goals of Obamacare again? Was one of them to reduce the rate of healthcare insurance increases? This might be a good time to remind voters of Hillarycare, too.

But there's still some good new about Obamacare, at least if you get contracts from the the government to help provide it: Covered California issues $184M in no-bid contracts
It’s good work if you can get it. There may be plenty of problems related to the state exchanges under Obamacare, but if you’re in the business of working on the web sites, opportunities abound. This is particularly true if you happen to have ties to health insurance exchange Executive Director Peter Lee.
California’s health insurance exchange has awarded $184 million in contracts without the competitive bidding and oversight that is standard practice across state government, including deals that sent millions of dollars to a firm whose employees have long-standing ties to the agency’s executive director…
Several of those contracts worth a total of $4.2 million went to a consulting firm, The Tori Group, whose founder has strong professional ties to agency Executive Director Peter Lee, while others were awarded to a subsidiary of a health care company he once headed.
There was, initially, a theoretical reason for Covered California to issue some no-bid contracts. They were under the gun to meet a deadline imposed by the federal government which was fast approaching and the work involved some highly specialized, niche skills. But the system has been up and “running” (to be generous) for some time now. States are supposed to eschew no-bid contracts to avoid exactly what appears to be going on here. Open bidding not only gives the taxpayer at least the hope of getting a better deal for their dollar, but also leaves the process open for public inspection ahead of time. This can, when handled properly, reduce the chances of insider deals and impropriety.
Not even a smidgen of corruption. A boatload perhaps, but not a smidgen.

No comments:

Post a Comment