HEALTH CARE COMPACT Blog

4-7-2014
Health Care Compact

The Health Care Compact movement advanced one more important step. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that “the Senate on Friday sent to Gov. Sam Brownback a bill that could put the state in charge of federal health care programs in Kansas, including Medicare.”


[Kansas] House Bill 2553 would allow Kansas to join a compact with other states that would decide how to spend federal health care funds. It was approved in the Senate 29-11. Only Republicans voted for the measure.


The compact could only take effect if approved by both chambers of Congress, which Pilcher-Cook said may be possible if Republicans, who already have a majority in the House, are able to win a majority in the Senate in the November elections. Eight states have passed the compact legislation.


The governor, Sam Brownback, is a Republican.  The scene now moves to Ohio where a bill similar to that of Kansas’, Ohio Health Care Compact (HB 227) has passed out of lower house committee and awaits a house vote. “State Representative Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton) has announced that House Bill 227—legislation that would enter Ohio into a multi-state health care compact—has passed from the House State and Local Government Committee. … House Bill 227 now awaits a vote by the full House.”


Eight states have now passed health care compact legislation. The impossible, the thousand to one long shot, is gradually shortening the odds.


4-7-2014
Health Care Compact

What are Obamacare premiums going to be like next year?  The National Journal’s Sam Baker interviewed some health care industry experts to gain some sense of where the levels might be. The estimate: it will go up at least 10%.


The Kaiser Family Foundation has found that health care spending rises and falls with the economy, but lags a few years behind. That means the economic recovery might be about to show up in health care—and make premiums more expensive.


"Based on our model, right about now is when you'd expect the improvements in the economy to start putting pressure on health care costs," Levitt explains. He says medical trend will probably pick up by 5 percent or 6 percent next year.


On top of that, one of the health care law's safety-net programs for insurers begins to scale down next year. The law pumped $10 billion in reinsurance payments into the market this year, to help offset the risk insurers shouldered by entering a new and unknown market. Those payments scale down to $6 billion in 2015. According to Levitt, that could add another 3 or 4 percentage points to premiums, on top of medical costs. "You could get pretty close to 10 percent just by those two factors alone," he says.


The Washington Examiner summarizes a few other forecasts.


In 45 states, insurance premiums will increase by up to 250 percent, according to a study from the Heritage Foundation. Don't want to believe Heritage? No problem, just read all the stories about people who have gone to healthcare.gov and seen their premiums increase, such as in California or Florida. And don't forget the Manhattan Institute analysis that said premiums for young men would increase by 97 to 99 percent and premiums for young women would increase 55 to 62 percent.


The basic reasons are simple. The introductory offers will start to dry up, the bad demographics will start to kick in and costs -- as ever will rise or rise faster. The net result is unsurprising: premiums will go up, which is bad news for those who read “affordable” as “free”.

4-7-2014
Health Care Compact

Robert Laszewski asks ‘will the Obama administration regret announcing it enrolled 7.1 million’? He writes

What happens when the real number––the number of people who actually completed their enrollment––comes in far below the seven million.

 

What happens when the hard data shows that most of these seven million were people who had coverage before?


What happens when it becomes clear that the Obamacare insurance exchanges are making hardly a dent in the number of those uninsured?


The short answer is that nothing will happen to the administration narrative. It has consistently portrayed Obamacare as a success, no matter the facts. It is unlikely to relent now. Laszewski continues:


Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reported that the non-profit Rand Corporation estimated that two-thirds of the first six million people to enroll in Obamacare were previously insured––only two million were previously uninsured.


If all of the one million people who signed up in the last week were previously uninsured, that would mean that only three million previously uninsured people have purchased coverage in the government-run exchanges.


What is much more dangerous is these fake accomplishments have been purchased at an enormous cost. Chat Terhune at the Los Angeles Times notes that the insurers are already preparing to increase their rates.


WellPoint Inc., parent of California's leading health insurer in the exchange, Anthem Blue Cross, has already predicted "double-digit-plus" rate increases on Obamacare policies across much of the country.


Other experts discount the notion of soaring premiums because the Obama administration has programs in place to help health plans offset losses from higher-cost customers.


Meanwhile, most everyone involved is waiting to see how many additional people rush in by Monday, the last day to begin enrolling in Obamacare.


But health insurers aren't wasting any time sizing up what patients are costing them now and what that will mean for 2015 rates.

Hunkered down in conference rooms, insurance actuaries are parsing prescriptions, doctor visits and hospital stays for clues about how expensive these new patients may be. By May, insurance companies must file next year's rates with California's state-run exchange so negotiations can begin.


"If rates in California increase by 20%," said Robert Laszewski, a healthcare consultant in Virginia, "enrollment will go down and any healthy people will bail."


The number of net uninsured is the number of people who will remain insured. Obamacare has overstated the numbers of uninsured it has enrolled and it has overstated the number of uninsured it will retain.