Thursday, December 13, 2012

More Predictions of Rate Shock Because of the New Health Law

Last week, I reported on my informal survey of health insurance companies and their estimate for how much rates will rise on account of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare").

Today, there are press reports quoting the CEO of Aetna with their estimate. The Aetna estimate is worse than mine.

From Bloomberg:

Health insurance premiums may as
much as double for some small businesses and individual

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Conservative States: Do a Partnership Exchange? Expand Medicaid?

Should states build their own health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ("Obamacare")?

Should states expand their Medicaid programs under the ACA?

These are the tough questions many, particularly conservative, states are now wrestling with. While it is too late for a state to now decide to build an exchange before the fast approaching launch date, it is still possible to

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Affordable Care Act: Ten Months to Launch "Obamacare"––Get Ready for Some Startling Rate Increases

What will health insurance cost in 2014?

Will the new health insurance exchanges be ready on time or will the law have to be delayed?

There Will Be Sticker Shock!
First, get ready for some startling rate increases in the individual and small group health insurance marketplace due to the changes the law dictates.

In a November 2009 report, the CBO estimated that premiums in the individual

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Feds Will Administer the Insurance Exchanges for Twice What it Costs to Administer Medicare

The Obama administration just released another set of regulations, the "Draft Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2014."

Among many other things in the 373 pages, they have announced their proposed assessments to cover the cost of running the federal exchange.

In order for the feds to administer the new insurance exchanges, they have proposed a fee of 3.5% of premium on each insurance

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The 2012 Elections and 2013––We Face a Daunting To-Do List

The Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") is now settled law.
It will be implemented. It will also have to be changed but not until after it is implemented and the required changes become obvious and unavoidable. We can all debate what those things will be (cost containment is on top of my list) but it doesn't matter what we think will happen––time will tell. 

There are and will be more lawsuits.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Private Health Insurance Exchanges––Will They Save Money? Will the Idea Grow?

Private health insurance exchanges will save employers money but not make health insurance cheaper.

Because private health insurance will save employers money, they will grow.

Will Private Insurance Exchanges Reduce Health Insurance Costs?

There's lots of buzz these days about private insurance exchanges. The idea is to give employees more choice in purchasing their own individual coverage

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Will Many of the Smallest Employers Circumvent the Affordable Care Act by Using Self-Insurance?

Not surprisingly, only about 10% of firms with fewer than 200 workers take advantage of self-insurance––and almost no very small groups (fewer than 50 workers) use the product. It just isn't worth it for these small employer groups to take the risk that they will either have too many claims or very big claims from their workers––that is what insurance companies are for.

Already, 96% of workers

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Medicaid Controversy––The Republican Governors Should Put Up or Shut Up

Indiana, New Mexico, and Wisconsin are asking the federal government
to exempt people making between 100% and 133% of the poverty level from
the upcoming Medicaid expansion.

These Republican governors need to put up or shut up.

Ever since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Republican governors have been clamoring for block granting Medicaid.

The Supreme Court ruled that a state

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Romney Intends to Repeal “Obamacare” in 2013—Has He Thought Through the Unintended Consequences If He Does?

Romney says he will repeal “Obamacare” if he is elected. Given that this has been part of his platform from the beginning of the campaign he is entitled to do that if he wins.

I did not support passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 because I saw it as an unaffordable entitlement expansion with no real hope of containing costs.

But the practical reality of killing the Affordable Care

Monday, September 10, 2012

Obama vs. Romney: A Detailed Analysis of Mitt Romney’s Health Care Reform Plan

Let’s take a look at Mitt Romney’s Health Care plan using his own outline ("Mitt’s Plan") on his website.

Romney's approach to health care reform summarized:

"Kill Obamacare" - There seems to be no chance Romney would try to fix the Affordable Care Act––he would repeal all of it.
No new federal health insurance reform law - There is no indication from his policy outline that he would try to

Monday, August 20, 2012

Romney vs. Obama: The Romney-Ryan Medicare Plan Compared to the Obama Medicare Plan—Who’s Telling the Truth on Medicare?

They both are and they both aren’t.

I’ve never seen a week in health care policy like last week. The media reports have to be in the thousands, all trying to make sense of the furious debate between Obama and Romney over Medicare.

As someone who has studied this issue for more than 20 years, it has also been more than exasperating for me to watch each side trade claims and for the press to try

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wyden and Ryan—One is Up and the Other is Down—and They Are Both Telling the Truth

Republican Vice Presidential pick Paul Ryan isn’t the only one Democrats are piling on this week. The knives have come out for Senator Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat.

I guess that isn’t a surprise. If Ron Wyden is right on Medicare then so are Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney.

The fundamental problem here is that the Democrats have decided that their best path to victory in the November elections is

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Game’s Not Over, and It May Not Even Be The Real Game

by Brian Klepper

Like most health law watchers, I was surprised by the recent Supreme Court decision. I'm sure that on this issue, as with everything else, zealous responses rationalize the result and split the country down the middle.

I expected the Court to be purely partisan, but apparently Chief Justice John Roberts, acknowledging the gravity of his role, saw his way clear to support the

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Do You Have Any Idea How Close the Affordable Care Act Came to Being Toast?

I expected Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to vote to toss the individual mandate. I had no doubt the other three conservative justices would want the whole of the Affordable Care Act thrown out.

I also expected the four liberal justices to support both the individual mandate as well as the entire law.

About everyone expected Roberts and Kennedy to vote alike.

If Roberts had gone with

The Supreme Court Ruling on Health Care, Its Impact on Medicaid, and 29 Republican Governors--Be Careful You Might Get What You Wish For

Conservatives wanted the Supreme Court to do the work of killing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for them. They didn’t get their wish but the Court may have put conservatives into a political corner they will find very uncomfortable.

Under the new health law, the Medicaid program will be substantially expanded. Those making up to 133% of the federal poverty level (about $30,000 in annual income

The Supreme Court's Decision on the Affordable Care Act

In the immortal words of Rosane Rosana Dana, "Never mind."From the SCOTUS blog live in the court room: "Chief Justice Roberts' vote saved the ACA."On to the elections.

Monday, June 25, 2012

What Would Health Insurance Cost if the Supreme Court Overturns the Individual Mandate But Leaves the Insurance Reforms in Place?

That will be the big question on Thursday if the Court throws out the mandate and the parallel insurance reforms that would require health plans to take all comers without regard to their health status and require insurers to cover pre-existing conditions.

But before we get to that scenario, let’s look at another possibility.

The Court Overturns Both the Individual Mandate and the Insurance

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) Report—Just Fiddling While Rome is Burning

Today’s headline was, “Millions Expected To Receive Insurance Rebates Totaling $1.3 Billion.”The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 3.4 million people in the individual market will receive $426 million in consumer rebates because of the Affordable Care Act's new MLR rules. In the small group market 4.9 million enrollees will see $377 million in rebates, and 7.5 million people will get $540

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What Would Individual Health Insurance Cost if the Court Strikes the Mandate Down and Still Requires Insurers to Cover Everyone?

With the Supreme Court justices sounding like they might strike the mandate down, this is a question I've been getting a lot lately.I have pointed to New Jersey as a real life example of what can happen when insurance reforms take place but there is no incentive for consumers to buy it until the day they need it.In 1992, New Jersey passed health insurance reform that required insurance carriers

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

If the Supreme Court Overturns the Individual Mandate

First, trying to predict how the Court will rule is at best just speculation. I know what Justice Kennedy said both today and yesterday and it certainly doesn’t look good for the Obama administration and upholding at least the mandate.But I will remind everyone, based upon oral arguments, most Court watchers expected a ruling in favor of the biotech industry on a recent case involving health care

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Will the Pace of Innovative Change Overtake the Financial Imperative to Slash Spending?

I thought it was worth passing along the comments by Jim Tallon, president of New York's United Hospital Fund, in a recent post.Tallon reflected on an international meeting he attended with health care leaders from a number of industrial nations--"nations whose health care systems, indeed underlying philosophies, ranged from market orientation through hybrids to government authority:" "Across

Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Five Myths About Medicare"

I recommend you read John Rother's recent op-ed in the Washington Post, "Five Myths About Medicare."John argues that each of these statements is a myth:Medicare is inefficient and fails to control costs--the CBO has projected that per capita spending will grow only 1% more than inflation over the next decade.The well-off don't pay enough for their Medicare benefits--working age premiums as well

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

ICD-10 To Be Delayed Indefinitely--Never Mind!

After years of telling us they are serious this time and everyone in the health care system had better be ready on time to implement the new disease coding system, CMS said today the whole project is going to be delayed indefinitely.The new ICD-10 system requires payers and providers to convert from the old system of 13,000 codes to the new system of 68,000 codes.All payers and providers were

Friday, February 10, 2012

There is No Free Lunch and There is No Free Contraception

The otherworldy Obama Administration solution to the contraception firestorm might work politically but it makes no sense in the real world.The President, hoping to quell a growing political firestorm, today announced a new policy that no longer requires religiously affiliated organizations to provide employees with contraception coverage in health-insurance plans.Under the new policy, insurance

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dismantling the Affordable Care Act: The Obama Supreme Court Argument + 51 Republican Senators

I have no idea which way the Supreme Court will rule this year on the Affordable Care Act. Let me go out on a limb and predict a 5-4 vote on the question of whether the individual mandate is Constitutional. Just don’t ask me which way the vote goes.I found the recent Obama administration brief submitted to the Court on the mandate question somewhat ironic. Not surprisingly, the Obama Justice

Monday, February 6, 2012

Medicare Advantage Premiums Drop an Average of 7% and Enrollment up 10%—That Must Make Republicans Just Want to Cry

Medicare Advantage would appear to be a fantastic success—senior premiums are dropping and enrollment is increasing.Listening to Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius last week, you would think private Medicare plans were a Democratic idea and this is their success. Many industry observers, including me, have worried that Medicare Advantage benefits would shrink and premiums would rise

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Wyden-Ryan Plan Will Be the Foundation for Serious Medicare Reform—and Maybe More

In two companion articles in January’s New England Journal of Medicine, Henry Aaron with Austin Frakt, and Joe Antos critique the Wyden-Ryan Medicare reform proposal.Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) are proposing a hybrid Medicare reform proposal combing both Republican defined contribution free market principles—a premium support scheme—with Democratic defined

Monday, January 30, 2012

The New Health Law Needs to Be Repealed, Expanded, and Replaced—So Long As It Doesn’t Have a Mandate

Last week’s State of the Union speech was notable because the President hardly mentioned the new health care reform law.Avoiding what is supposed to be the centerpiece domestic accomplishment of President Obama’s first term stuck out like a sore thumb.He said almost nothing because the Obama team simply doesn’t know what to say.The fact is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is generally unpopular, and

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Important Research From Medicare Demonstration Projects: Almost Nothing Works

I will suggest that most of us believe the way to control health care costs, and at the same time maintain or improve quality, is to both use the managed care tools we have developed over the years, and perhaps more importantly, change the payment incentives so that both cost control and quality are upper most in the minds of providers and payers.The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has just

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Will the Feds Be Ready With the Fallback Insurance Exchanges by October 2013?

Insurance exchanges have to be up and running in all of the states by October 2013 in order to be able to cover people by January 1, 2014.If the states don't do it, the feds have to be ready with a fallback exchange. States have to tell HHS if they intend to be ready by January 1, 2013.The White House just released a report saying that good progress is being made in 28 states. That begs the

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I Hope Trustmark Tells HHS to Go Pound Sand

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that, "Trustmark Life Insurance Company has proposed unreasonable health insurance premium increases in five states—Alabama, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wyoming. The excessive rate hikes would affect nearly 10,000 residents across these five states."The HHS statement continued, "In these five states, Trustmark has raised

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012: A Year of Huge Uncertainty in Health Care Policy

2013 may be the most significant year in health care policy ever.But we have to get through 2012 first.Once the 2012 election results are in there will be the very real opportunity to address a long list of health care issues.If Republicans win, the top of the list will include “repealing and replacing” the Affordable Care Act. If Obama is reelected, but Republicans capture both houses of