Category: HST Blog

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The Good The Bad and The Ugly

Republicans have not unified behind a single bill to replace Obamacare because conservatives have been debating among themselves exactly what the components of that bill should be. The ongoing collapse of Obamacare, economically and politically, is heightening the stakes in that debate, delaying matters. But the replacement plan now emerging will broaden health coverage at least as much as Obamacare, which teased universal coverage but never delivered. Moreover, the replacement plan would actually reduce health costs (through tried and true market incentives, proven to work in the real world), again which Obamacare promised, but instead produced exactly the opposite. Indeed, the plan would do this while cutting government spending, taxes and regulation as compared to Obamacare. Just think of the historic political significance of the Democrat Left finally enacting socialized medicine, after fighting for it for over a century, and the country rising up in political rebellion to reject it, and replace it with free market medicine instead. Jim Capretta, a Senior Fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center, recently wrote about this emerging plan in the book, Room to Grow, published by the YG Network, a conservative organization that grew out of the work of the Republican House …

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Here is our monthly feature of “Get to know our Insurance Carriers!”

My name is Margie Mack and I have been an insurance agent for approximately 12 years. I have worked with many insurance carriers and one of the best is Assurant Health. The company that I work for is called Healthcare Solutions Team and they are an “MGA” or “managing general agency” that helps us, the agents, do the good work we are supposed to do. I chose “Assurant Health” because I feel that they are very “client” friendly and ready to help you protect yourself and your family. Please read about Assurant Health below and remember, we are all in this together! Assurant Health is the brand name for a family of health insurance products focused on providing a variety of affordable plan choices to consumers. The portfolio of health care products includes major medical, supplemental and fixed-benefit plans for individuals, families and small employers. Assurant Health is committed to providing access to convenient health care delivery, easy-to-understand products and value-added services that help customers better manage their healthcare dollars and get the most out of their coverage— ultimately seeking to protect not only financial security but also the health and wellbeing of its customers.  Assurant Health’s products are underwritten and …

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Yay or Nay on Obamacare!

One day very, very soon the focus that is on Obamacare will turn from signing up new enrollees to qualifying the laws as a success or failure. The six-month open enrollment period ended as of April1st. But it is obvious that the Department of Health and Human Services as well as many states running their own marketplaces, are giving some extra time to consumers who’ve had trouble signing up. We can’t answer the questions if it is a success or not yet because we do not know whether those signing up for coverage were previously uninsured. In fact, some enrollees, perhaps many, had their insurance plans canceled at the end of 2013 because the plans did not meet the requirements set out by the ACA. What will happen to insurance premiums in 2015? Some experts are looking beyond this year’s enrollment numbers and are focusing on what the insurance rates will be for those renewing their plans this fall or selecting plans for the very first time! The questions at the top of our list are: what happens with the premiums in 2015? Plus: do the insurance companies leave the market or enter it? And finally: has the number of …

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The Future Of Your Health Policy

As we all know, when President Barack Obama sold his health care law to the American people, he sold it to them primarily on the basis of cost. He did this because the polling was so unanimous: People weren’t demanding massive increased regulation of the insurance marketplace to achieve any particular moral goal about coverage levels or anything of the sort – the vast majority of Americans just cared that their health insurance premiums were too high. So Obama made the case for his law based not on increasing coverage, but on decreasing costs – and along the way, he promised no one would lose their doctor or their plan, or see worse coverage because of his law. In each case, his argument was in line with the polling data on what the American people wanted. But what about making the case for health policy reforms in the post-Obamacare era? For most center-right health policy experts and opinion-makers, the assumption has taken hold that coverage levels must be sustained or even increased under any comparable reform. They believe the argument in favor of universal coverage has been lost, and that any plan that kicks people off of an entitlement program is doomed to …

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Lower Premiums May Be Expected for 2015!

Some health insurance analysts and industry statisticians are predicting that premium rates will increase by an average of just 7% in 2015, which is well below the double-digit increases that some observers have anticipated in recent months, USA Today reports. Dave Axene — a fellow with the Society of Actuaries, which has been working with insurers to analyze data trends about enrollees in the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges — said, “The [double-digit rate] increases we’ve been hearing are probably exaggerated.” He acknowledged that there likely would be wide variations in premium rate increases across states but that the rates would increase by only between 6% and 8.5%, compared with increases of between 7% and 10% prior to the ACA’s implementation. In addition, Axene said that based off of analyses of early exchange enrollees, such individuals tend to be people with “higher morbidity.” Specifically, about 6% to 8% of early enrollees had higher-than-average health care needs, USA Today reports. However, this trend was expected and likely will not influence the 2015 premium costs, according to Axene. Axene noted that premiums still could increase in coming years, particularly in 2017, when “the risk corridors go away, which provide financial protection if [insurers] are bad at estimating …

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How Much Will Obamacare Cost You?

This past April 15, filers and accountants alike are finding a new array of taxes resulting from the president’s health care legislation. These include at least 20 ObamaCare-related tax increases totaling $409 billion over the next ten years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. The new taxes are especially irksome to ObamaCare opponents, because they are imposed by a law that passed on a straight party-line vote and are being enforced by an agency that some accuse of party favoritism. “I think it’s rather unfortunate that the IRS has this huge role in the Affordable Care Act because it’s always controversial,” said Mark Everson, a former IRS Commissioner. “Then, to tie it up with this very controversial domestic law, it just makes the job tougher,” he said. Among the new taxes: – A Medicare Tax Increase of .9 percent for individuals earning over $200,000 or married couples earning $250,000 -A net investment income tax of 3.8 percent tax on individuals, estates, and trusts worth more $200,000 or $250,000 for joint filers. – And an increase in the threshold for itemized deductions for medical expenses from 7.5 percent  to 10 percent of gross income. There are also new taxes on …

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The BIG Summit

President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul is coming under renewed attack as some of the nation’s leading conservatives gather for a New Hampshire summit thick with presidential implications. Several potential Republican White House contenders — among them Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — headline a conference Saturday in Manchester, N.H., hosted by the conservative groups Citizens United and Americans for Prosperity. Scheduled speakers also include real estate mogul Donald Trump, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Utah Sen. Mike Lee and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte. The gathering highlights the role of Koch Industries, the giant conglomerate headed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. The Koch-affiliated Americans for Prosperity has already spent millions of dollars on health care-related attack ads aimed at Democratic senators in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Alaska, Colorado, Iowa and elsewhere. That’s made the Koch brothers a prime target for Democratic criticism. The summit comes as prospective presidential candidates begin to step up appearances in key states ahead of the 2016 presidential contest, even though New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation-presidential primary isn’t planned for another two years. The speakers are expected to bash the Democratic-backed health care overhaul, a …

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Are You Educated on Obamacare?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to explain the Obama administration’s latest decision to extend a key Obamacare deadline by saying people just “are not educated on how to use the Internet.”  The explanation, which glossed over the myriad technical problems HealthCare.gov had for weeks after its October launch, came as the administration faced Republican criticism for a late-breaking decision to extend a looming deadline for some. Open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act federal exchanges is set to end March 31, but the Department of Health and Human Services will let those who start the application process before that date have a bit more time to finish.  Reid, and the Obama administration, will not call the change a “delay.”  “We have hundreds of thousands of people who tried to sign up and they didn’t get through,” Reid said during a press conference, before describing the difficulties people have with the Internet in general.  “There are some people who are not like my grandchildren who can handle everything so easily on the Internet, and these people need a little extra time. … The example they gave us is a 63-year-old woman came into the store and said, ‘I almost got …

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Healthcare.gov Goes Down On Last Day

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration’s health care website stumbled on deadline day for new sign-ups. Visitors to HealthCare.gov on Monday morning saw messages that the site was down for maintenance. At times the visitors were also directed to a virtual waiting room — a feature designed to ease the strain on the site during periods of heavy use. The site was working again at 8 a.m., according to CNBC. Administration spokesman Aaron Albright said the website undergoes “regular nightly maintenance” during off-peak hours and that period was extended because of a “technical problem.” He did not say what the problem was, but a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services called it “a software bug” unrelated to application volume. Albright said consumers seeking to sign up will be able to leave their email and “will be invited back when the system is available.” Consumers can also call 1-800-318-2596 to complete the application process. Albright said the website is typically down for maintenance during the period from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. EDT, and that as a result of the technical problems the site was down for close to four additional hours on Monday morning. The sign-up website had been …

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FOUR NEW MYSTERIES IN THE OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT NUMBERS

The White House is heralding the news that 2.2 million people have signed up through state and federal health care marketplaces as evidence that Obamacare, which started as a disaster, is finally working. On Monday, Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that December alone accounted for 1.8 million new enrollees. In December, seven times more people enrolled through the federal exchange, and adults aged 18 to 34 signed up at eight times the rate they did in the first two months of the law. “Americans are finding quality affordable coverage in the Marketplace, and best of all, because coverage began on New Year’s Day, the promise and hope of the Affordable Care Act is now a reality,” Sebelius said in a statement announcing the enrollment figures. “Our outreach efforts have ramped up, so whether it’s through public service announcements, events, our champions or other means, we are doing all we can to find, inform and enroll those who can benefit from the Marketplace.” But the numbers HHS released are misleading, and only tell part of the story. The White House is still lagging to meet self-imposed enrollment targets. And young people are not signing up at the pace …

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