Category: Healthcare Reform

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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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OBAMACARE AFTERMATH: FEWER DOCTERS, HIGHER COSTS

Beleaguered defenders of President Obama’s healthcare law are frantic to assure Americans that at the end of the day – in spite of all the glitches and disappointments – Obamacare is good for the country. They argue that our nation’s existing healthcare system is “broken” and needs to be fixed. In a recent op-ed published in The New York Times, Charles Blow offers up several places where the U.S. falls short. He notes that the U.S. has fewer doctors per person than most OECD countries, fewer hospital beds per person and that our increase in life expectancy – nine years between 1960 and 2010 – does not equal that of several other developed nations. He neglects to mention how Obamacare will fix these failings – probably because it will not. How does cramming down fees paid to doctors and hospitals result in more people deciding to go into medicine or hard-hit medical centers being able to expand?  Granted, there will be a larger population seeking care, but increased demand does not necessarily lead to increased supply. For that to happen prices have to rise – and we have been promised that, to the contrary, Obamacare will “bend the cost curve.”  …

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WHY PREMIUMS ARE JUST THE BEGINNING OF OBAMACARE COSTS

Anyone shopping for insurance on the new Obamacare marketplaces knows – or needs to know – that the premiums there don’t tell the full story on costs. Some 80 percent of applicants for policies on the federal and state marketplaces are eligible for subsidies. Under the current federal subsidy structure, the annual income cut-off for premium subsidies is $45, 960 for a single person and $94,200 for a family of four. That means that those making under $100,000 (and with larger families) are far more likely to obtain help with out-of-pocket costs in the form of lower premiums. Even so, those premiums, which vary by state and type of plan, reflect only a portion of the total expenses a policyholder could pay for out-of-pocket charges. In buying any insurance plan, it’s the combination of the premium with likely out-of-pocket expenses — copays and deductibles — that comprise your total cost. Top-tier “platinum” plans pay 90 percent of expenses, but you’ll pay high premiums to obtain that kind of coverage. Calculating the real out-of-pocket expenses you might face with lower-tier plans can be more complicated. You have to weigh the plan’s deductible and examine a range of other factors, including co-pays …

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4 Things You Didn’t Know About The Obamacare Penalty

March is the close to open enrollment. If you didn’t choose to get covered then you will have a penalty to pay. That penalty has been the subject of much debate and some confusion. At its simplest, the law mandates that individuals who go without insurance in 2014 must pay the government either $95 or 1 percent of their household income, whichever is higher. 1. The formula is not as simple as it seems. The penalty for not having insurance begins with a flat fee of $95 per person for the year (plus $47.50 per child under 18). The maximum penalty per family is $285. The other potentially more painful penalty is 1 percent of annual household income, up to a maximum equal to the national average annual premium for a “bronze” health insurance plan. The CBO estimates this to be approximately $5,000 for an individual in 2016 and $12,000 for a family. The fee increases every year. In 2015 it will be 2 percent of income or a flat-rate penalty of $325 per adult and $162.50 per child. In 2016, it’s 2.5 percent of income or $695 per person and $347.50. After that, the penalty will be adjusted for …

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Rethinking Your Health Insurance

As the acute problems of the Affordable Care Act become increasingly apparent, it also has become clear that we need new ways of ensuring access to health care for all Americans. Our agents at Healthcare Solutions Team are aware of the harsh changes that have take all of us by surprise. Insurance is about protecting against risk. In the health arena, the risk at issue is of large and unexpected medical expenses. Over the last decade, however, Americans have come to expect their health insurance to subsidize the consumption of all medical care. Rather than simply protecting against financial catastrophe, insurance has become a pass-through mechanism to pay for every type of medical service, including routine ones. This shift in expectation has meant that health insurance stands out as entirely different from all other types of insurance. Ask yourself: Would you use automobile insurance to buy gasoline? Would you use homeowner insurance to finance painting your house? We would hope not! This wrongheaded view has played an important role in contributing to rapidly rising health-care costs. Patients with insurance do not perceive themselves as paying for the cost of routine services, nor do their physicians and other health-care providers. The …

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A Change In Plans?

The media have caught the president redefining Obamacare success downward. But, try as he might, voters won’t consider a hugely disruptive and expensive program to benefit just a sliver of patients a “success.” They soon will ask if there is not a better way, without wreaking havoc on the previously insured, to cover those who’ve managed to fight through the HealthCare.gov thicket and for those for whom the Obamacare standard plan is hardly “affordable.” There certainly is. In a critically important piece, George P. Shultz, former Secretary of State, John Cogan, former deputy director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and physician Scott W. Atlas make the case for getting back to actual health insurance, as opposed to massive pre-payment of health-care expenses: Insurance is about protecting against risk. In the health arena, the risk at issue is of large and unexpected medical expenses. The proper role of health insurance should be to finance necessary and expensive medical services without the patient incurring devastating financial consequences. Over the last decade, however, Americans have come to expect their health insurance to subsidize the consumption of all medical care. Rather than simply protecting against financial catastrophe, insurance has become a …

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ARE YOU IN THE RIGHT AREA FOR OBAMACARE?

Now that Obamacare is here we are finding that it may be complicated to provide the health care that you may need if you live in a “rural” area. Florida opted not to take additional funding from the federal government to expand Medicaid coverage as many people who would qualify for Medicaid under the federal guidelines do not qualify under the state’s guidelines. People can appeal their Medicaid eligibility and seek help in reducing insurance premiums, but that does not always work. Florida Blue, the state’s Blue Cross Blue Shield network, is the only insurer providing coverage in all of the state’s 76 counties so then serving rural Florida can be a challenge. With only one hospital for example in 2 to 3 counties this makes it difficult for residents to actually obtain and get to the correct provider for help. Florida is just one example of this problem and it is spread throughout the entire nation. Our agents at Healthcare Solutions Team have been busy working on this very issue so that when you call us we can make sure that we have the plans that are healthcare compliant and will suit your needs and take the stress away …

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