Patient Groups Ask HHS To Redefine Insurance Discrimination
The coalition of 279 patient groups wants more safeguards for consumers and language that would prohibit specific practices by insurance companies. In other news about implementation of the health law, another look at a possible strategy for Republicans opposed to the overhaul and a study about low-cost plans.
Patient Groups Urge HHS To Define 'Discrimination'
A coalition of 279 patient groups is urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to further define what constitutes insurance "discrimination" under the Affordable Care Act. In a letter Friday, the "I Am (Still) Essential" alliance thanked HHS for recent guidance that would strengthen transparency on the exchanges and push insurers to cover more prescription drugs. Groups urged regulators to do more, however, by issuing specific language prohibiting practices that can hamper sick patients in their effort to procure care and drug coverage. (Viebeck, 12/19)
Republicans Eye Obscure Budget Tool To Repeal Obamacare
Republicans on and off Capitol Hill are rallying behind using a rarely-deployed budget tool next year to dismantle ObamaCare. But the issue of how to use “budget reconciliation” has divided Republicans, with some calling for it to be implemented to overhaul the tax code or to push through major energy reforms. The tool is useful because it could allow newly-empowered Senate Republicans to pass legislation with a 51-vote simple majority rather than the usual 60, greatly increasing the chances of moving legislation to President Obama’s desk. (Wong, 12/21)
The New York Times' Upshot:
H.M.O.s Offer Lower Prices In Health Care Marketplaces
Many people will see their premiums increase significantly for 2015 if they haven’t yet taken the advice of my colleague, Margot Sanger-Katz, to shop around. But a new analysis from the McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform suggests insurers had some luck in holding down prices if they offered plans that limited a consumer’s choice of doctors and hospitals. Plans featuring health maintenance organizations or restricted networks of providers typically had the lowest year-over-year premium increases, according to McKinsey, which sifted through information on the 223,000 plans offered in the marketplaces at the county level over the last two years. (Abelson, 12/19)
McKinsey: Low-Cost 2014 Plans More Expensive In 2015
Exchange plans that had the lowest 2014 premiums and are being offered again for 2015 experienced double-digit gross premium increases, according to a new analysis from McKinsey & Company. (Pradhan, 12/19)
Obamacare By The Numbers: What A Difference A Year Makes
It's now clear that last year's disastrous rollout of the Obamacare health insurance exchanges will not be repeated. So far, people have been able to sign up with little or no trouble for private health insurance on the new exchanges that are the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act. (Fox, 12/22)
7 Big Tax Changes In 2015
Regardless of what your situation looks like in 2014, here are seven big changes that will affect a large number of taxpayers starting in January 2015. ... Part of the Affordable Care Act mandates that all Americans have health insurance, or pay a tax penalty as a result. In 2014, the penalties are 1% of your household income or $95 per person – whichever is greater. But in 2015, those penalties ramp up significantly to 2% of total household income, or $325 per person. That can really add up for a middle-class family of four. If you're not covered and paying a penalty on your 2014 taxes, make sure you get health insurance ASAP to avoid penalties as we enter a new tax year in January. (Reeves, 12/19)