Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Let's Not Forget Obamacare


With the world coming apart at the seams it has been mostly quiet on the Obamacare front. One of the smarter, and non-partisan, observers of Obamacare, Bob Laszewski had this op-ed in USA Today.

Obamacare is in hiding until after the election: How our government is obscuring facts about your health insurance until after the election.

In addition to a reminder to insurance executives that they:
"will not use, disclose, post to a public forum, or in any way share Test Data with any person or entity, included but not limited to media..." This includes any "results of this testing exercise and any information describing or otherwise relating to the performance or functionality" of the Obamacare enrollment and eligibility system
Laszewski continues:

Last month the administration announced that 7.3 million people were insured under Obamacare as of mid-August. That was the first announcement of enrollment made by the administration since April. They provided just one number and no backup and admitted that they had been collecting enrollment data from insurers all along. They conveniently reported this figure just before enrollment is expected to take a big fall when thousands of people hit the deadline to clear up discrepancies in their income and legal resident status or risk losing subsidies or coverage altogether. We still don't know how many lost coverage or are still in limbo.

The administration has trumpeted the low average health insurer rate increases for 2015. But these low average increases have more often been low because the majority of insurers who did not get much enrollment have cut their rates while the insurers that got most of the enrollment have raised their rates. But current participants in the 36 federally run state insurance exchanges and most state-run exchanges won't see their own renewal rates until the open enrollment is about to begin. In short, the administration is comparing different plans with different benefits between 2014 and 2015. Those who want to keep the same plan might have big price increases.
Some on the right are also making much of risk corridors which compensate insurance companies if they mis-price policies, (too dumb to fail?), which is an incentive to lower premiums in order to capture market share and let the government pick up the tab.

It's hard to see this law surviving in anywhere near its current form no matter who wins the election.


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