KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Emanuel’s Book Suggests Health Law Could Create Shift From Job-Based Plans

Although Ezekiel Emanuel was a key White House adviser on the law, other Democrats dispute his view about transitions in how Americans get coverage. Meanwhile, in other articles looking at changes the overhaul will bring, the Associated Press examines some workers' desire to leave jobs now that they can get insurance elsewhere, and the Fiscal Times explores premium costs in the future.

The New York Times: In Book, Architect of Health Law Predicts a Shift Away From Employer Coverage
Ezekiel J. Emanuel, who helped devise the Affordable Care Act, has a vision for how it will eventually work. Democrats hope it will not materialize anytime soon. Mr. Emanuel expects the law to produce an unadvertised but fundamental shift in where most working Americans get their health insurance — specifically, a sharp drop in the number of employers who offer coverage to their workers. ... His former colleagues in the Obama White House say there is no evidence the law will bring "the end of employer-sponsored insurance," as Mr. Emanuel puts it in his new book (Harwood, 3/20).

The Associated Press: With Health Law, Workers Ponder The I-Quit Option
But for Stephanie Payne of St. Louis, who already had good insurance, the law could offer another kind of escape: the chance to quit her job. At 62, Payne has worked for three decades as a nurse …. One of the selling points of the new health care plan, which has a March 31 enrollment deadline, is that it breaks the link between affordable health insurance and having a job with benefits. Payne believes she'll be able to replace her current coverage with a $400- to $500-a-month plan on Oregon's version of the new insurance exchange system set up under the law. … Last month, congressional budget analysts estimated that within 10 years, the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time workers could be working less because of the expanded coverage. But is the new option a gamble? That's a matter of debate (Johnson, 3/21).

The Fiscal Times: 4 Reasons Obamacare Premiums Will Rise Next Year
Now that the first open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act is coming to a close, insurers they say are getting a better idea of what to expect next year—and that includes higher premiums. Early into Obamacare’s troubled launch—plagued with website problems, cancelled plans and numerous delays—several insurers were already warning that the rocky rollout would result in higher premiums in 2015. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini first raised concerns over a potential rate shock in December, when he told investors that "in some markets,"individual-market premium increases " could go as high as 100 percent" (Ehley, 3/21).

Meanwhile, CNN examines the issues at stake in next week's Supreme Court case.

CNN: Justices To Hear 'Hobby Lobby' Case On Obamacare Birth Control Rule
Conestoga Wood Specialties was founded a half-century ago in a Pennsylvania garage. The Hahn family's commitment to quality is driven in large part by their Christian faith, which in turn may soon threaten the company's very existence. That financial and constitutional dynamic is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, in a high-stakes encore to the health care reform law known as Obamacare. The justices will hear oral arguments Tuesday in a dispute involving contraception coverage and religious liberty. The court will review provisions in the Affordable Care Act requiring for-profit employers of a certain size to offer insurance benefits for birth control and other reproductive health services without a co-pay. At issue is whether certain companies can refuse to do so on the sincere claim it would violate their owners' long-established personal beliefs (Mears, 3/21).

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