Views On Health Enrollment: One Employer’s Experience; Cost-Shifting; Beware Bush’s Plan
Several columnists and editorials look at issues surrounding the opening of the health law's marketplaces.
The Wall Street Journal:
The Slow-Motion Implosion Of ObamaCare
ObamaCare expanded coverage in 2014 to the extent that it gave people free or nearly free insurance. That goal could have been accomplished without the Affordable Care Act. To justify its existence, ObamaCare must make affordable private insurance available to a broad cross-section of uninsured Americans who are ineligible for Medicaid. But with fewer people buying insurance through the exchanges, the economics aren’t holding up. ... At our company, CKE Restaurants, we offer eligible employees ObamaCare-compliant coverage. We used federal guidelines and set our employee monthly contribution for the least expensive Bronze plan at $1,116 a year, or about 25% of the annual premium. The company pays the rest, and the deductible is $5,500. But even when next year’s higher penalty kicks in—2.5% of income above $10,000—an employee would need to earn more than $50,000 a year for the penalty to exceed the premium. ... Of our company’s 5,453 eligible employees, only 420 enrolled. Our experience isn’t unique, according to press reports. (Andy Puzder, 11/1)
The Kansas City Star:
Beware Of Cost-Shifting While Shopping For Health Insurance
In the big picture, the data on health care costs looks positive as Americans prepare to choose insurance plans for 2016. People in employer-sponsored programs saw their premiums increase a manageable average of 4 percent last year, according to a nationwide survey. The federal government estimates that eight of 10 Americans who enroll in the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchange will pay less than $100 a month next year after receiving tax credits. ... But for many people in the trenches, the picture is much less bright. Consumers understand that premiums are relatively stable only because cost-sharing measures are at all-time highs. Their paychecks may not show big increases for health insurance, but they are carrying large deductibles and paying more in co-pays for doctor’s visits and prescription drugs. (10/30)
6 Things To Know If You're Shopping For Obamacare This Year
This is now the third year that the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces are open for business. The prices in year one were actually lower than many experts had predicted and, in year two, they rose only a tiny bit. This year is a different story. They are clearly rising more quickly, as analysts and insurance officials predicted this past spring. There are a few reasons for the acceleration, but the most important is that many insurers initially set their premiums too low. They assumed the pool of beneficiaries would be larger and healthier than what they actually got. Now they are adjusting. (Jonathan Cohn, 10/31)
The New York Times' The Upshot:
Why Consumers Often Err In Choosing Health Plans
It’s open enrollment season for almost every kind of health insurance in America. Millions of Americans using Medicare plans, employer-sponsored health insurance or Affordable Care Act marketplaces select health plans each fall. Many consumers face numerous options, and research shows that they make many mistakes, often paying more than they need to. Some err by selecting deductibles that are too low. Lower deductibles can be a fine choice for some consumers, but trying to save money with a lower deductible can be a poor choice if a person pays even more in premiums. For instance, at one large American company in 2010, employees could reduce their deductible by $250 — to $750 from $1,000 — by paying $500 more in premiums. Trading $500 for $250 is clearly a bad deal for the consumer. (Austin Frakt, 11/1)
The Washington Post:
An Alternative To Obamacare?
Jeb Bush released a health-care plan last month that would disassemble Obamacare’s “three-legged stool” — its federal mandate requiring all individuals to carry health insurance, its ban on insurance companies denying or pricing out people with preexisting conditions, and its subsidies to help people buy coverage. In its place, he would assemble a flimsier one. (11/1)