By Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
Repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate would reduce the federal deficit by $338 billion in the next decade, according to a projection from the Congressional Budget Office.
The individual mandate requires that Americans purchase health insurance or pay a penalty to the Internal Revenue Service for not having coverage. A recent Taxpayer Advocate Service report found that roughly 4 million Americans paid an average penalty of about $708 this year for a total of $2.8 billion.
The budget office predicts that eliminating the mandate would reduce the deficit by $338 billion from 2018 to 2027 and would decrease the number of those with health insurance by 4 million in 2019 and by 13 million in 2027. Even with this loss, the report says that markets would remain stable in almost all areas of the United States over the next decade. Continue reading
by Kimberly Leonard • Washington Examiner
The price of premiums for Obamacare’s mid-level plans are set to rise by an average of 34 percent next year, according to an analysis by the consulting firm Avalere Health.
These mid-level, or silver, plans are considered to be benchmark plans for people who sign up for Obamacare’s health insurance. Premiums for bronze, gold, and platinum plans will rise by an average of 18 percent, 16 percent, and 24 percent, respectively, compared to last year.
Average premium increases varied by state, the analysis found. Iowa will have the highest jump in average silver premium, of 69 percent, while Alaska will have a decrease in premiums of 22 percent. Alaska’s plan was lower this year because the state set up a reinsurance program in which state and federal funds paid for the medical claims of high-cost enrollees. Continue reading
By John Daniel Davidson • The Federalist
At the risk of interrupting our endless culture wars with some boring policy health policy news, congressional Republicans are on track to allow a brand new Obamacare tax to take effect next year, making health insurance even more expensive for millions of Americans. Beginning in January 2018, an Obamacare tax on health insurance plans for individuals and small businesses will go into effect—unless the GOP-controlled Congress delays it.
They’ve delayed it before. The tax was in place from 2014 to 2016, but in December 2015, Congress placed a one-year moratorium on collecting the tax for all of 2017, an estimated $13.9 billion. If the tax is allowed to go back into effect next year, it’ll be at a higher level, hauling in an estimated $14.3 billion and affecting more than 11 million households buying insurance on the individual market and 23 million households who are insured through small employers. Continue reading
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
Out-of-pocket costs for specialty drugs under the Affordable Care Act increased 16 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to a report from HealthPocket.
While prescription drug coverage comes standard with Obamacare plans, not all medications prescribed to individuals will be paid for.
“For a plan to help pay for a drug, the drug must first be included on the health plan’s formulary,” the report states. “Drugs that are off-formulary are not only paid for completely out-of-pocket by the enrollee but those expenses do not count towards the annual cap on out-of-pocket spending.” Continue reading
By Stephen Moore • Washington Post
The danger of a Republican bailout of Obamacare is mounting with every passing day. A group of “moderate” Republicans calling themselves the Problem Solvers Caucus is quietly negotiating with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to throw a multi-billion dollar life line to the Obamacare insurance exchanges.
This bailout, of course, would be an epic betrayal by a Republican Party which has promised to repeal and replace the financially crumbling Obama health law.
Republicans who are “negotiating” this bipartisan deal, such as Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, object to the term “bailout” for this rescue package. The left prefers the euphemism “stabilizing the insurance market.” Continue reading
By Scott Ehrlich • The Federalist
On the day the American Health Care Act passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, the hashtag #IAmAPreExistingCondition was trending on Twitter. At the time I saw it, there were about 65,000 tweets on it.
Earlier that day, I had read in a different article that at its peak only 115,000 were members of the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), a high-risk insurance program established as a bridge between pre-Obamacare coverage and the establishment of its exchanges. This brought to mind two key realizations: people care very much about those with pre-existing conditions and want to see them taken care of, but it’s also not a huge number of people and it’s very hard and expensive to insure them no matter what mechanism Americans use.
How People with Pre-Existing Conditions Get Insurance Continue reading
Barack Obama emerged from his short-lived political retirement on Sunday to call on Members of Congress to show the “political courage” to preserve ObamaCare. But wait. That plea doesn’t square with the deluge of recent stories predicting that Republicans have doomed their majority in 2018 by voting last week to repeal ObamaCare. How does it take “political courage” to oppose something that everyone claims is politically suicidal?
Perhaps because the predictors of Republican doom could be wrong. The midterm election is still 18 months away, and many events will intervene that could influence the result. But even if the campaign does turn on repealing ObamaCare, we’d argue that the politics are better for Republicans if they pass their reform and fulfill a campaign promise than if they fail and then duck and cover.
Start with the safe assumption that the Democratic base will be highly motivated to vote next November no matter what Republicans in Congress do. The left will be eager to repudiate President Trump, and that means trying to retake the House and Senate. House Republicans can’t do much to deflate that liberal enthusiasm, any more than Democrats could deter the tea party in 2010. Continue reading
By Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
Aetna, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, has announced that it will exit all Affordable Care Act exchanges in 2018 after experiencing massive losses in 2016 and 2017.
Aetna announced in August of last year that it would scale back its participation in the Obamacare exchanges in 2017—from operating in 778 counties to 242—citing losses of more than $430 million since January 2014. At that time, the company said it would still operate in four states: Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska, and Virginia.
Earlier this month, the company said it would exit the exchanges in both Iowa and Virginia, saying the insurer has continued to face profitability headwinds from individual commercial products. The company even went so far as to set aside a fund to buffer it from projected losses. Continue reading
By Brian Frankie • The Federalist
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, a.k.a. Obamacare) has been an utter mess. From passage in 2010 with procedural gimmicks to implementation in 2013 with unworkable software, from the loss of doctors and health plans millions wanted to keep to escalating premiums and insurers dropping out of the market, Obamacare has fallen short of nearly every conceivable goal of health-care reform.
There’s one single exception: Obamacare has dramatically expanded health insurance coverage. This single remaining reason explains why it retains the support of progressives and a significant chunk of the electorate. All other considerations are secondary, if not irrelevant. More people have health insurance, so more people are benefitting from improved health outcomes and access to care.
There is only one simple flaw in this reasoning. It does not appear to be true. Continue reading
By Ben Southwood • National Review
Health care in the United States is famous for three things: It’s expensive, it’s not universal, and it has poor outcomes. The U.S. spends around $7,000 per person on health care every year, or roughly 18 percent of GDP; the next highest spender is Switzerland, which spends about $4,500. Before Obamacare, approximately 15 percent of the U.S. population were persistently uninsured (8.6 percent still are). And as this chart neatly shows, their overall outcome on the most important variable — overall life expectancy — is fairly poor.
But some of this criticism is wrongheaded and simplistic: when you slice the data up more reasonably, U.S. outcomes look impressive, but being the world’s outlier is much more expensive than following behind. What’s more, most of the solutions people offer just don’t get to the heart of the issue: If you give people freedom they’ll spend a lot on health care. Continue reading
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
In a speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, President Donald Trump outlined five principles to guide lawmakers when repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
“Tonight I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower cost, and at the same time provide better health care,” the president said. “Mandating every American to buy government approved health insurance was never the right solution for our country.”
“The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we are going to do,” the president said.
Trump criticized Obamacare, explaining how premiums have increased by double and triple digits, how one-third of counties in the United States are left with only one insurer participating on the exchanges, and how the law is “unsustainable and collapsing.” Continue reading
by Mary Katharine Ham • The Federalist
I try to make it a habit not to hate too much on the rebuttal to any president’s joint session or State of the Union address. It’s a nearly impossible task to come on right after the pomp and circumstance of the full chamber and tepidly voice the opposition’s concerns. Quirks as varied as a wandering eyebrow, a sing-song voice, or a (gasp!) sip of water have been the downfall of many a good politician in this unenviable position.
Perhaps that’s the reason the Democratic Party couldn’t manage to find anyone more promising than a septuagenarian former governor of Kentucky to take on the task. Luckily, in keeping with my habit, I need not even venture into the substance of former Gov. Steve Beshear’s speech to diagnose the problems with the Democratic Party. I need only examine the selection of Beshear.
Beshear giving the speech is in itself an admission of failure. You know who’s not giving the speech? The young, promising, telegenic former Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, who was the presumptive heir to Beshear’s office until he was defeated by double digits by Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin. Continue reading
By Christopher Jacobs • The Federalist
Last week, Vox ran a story featuring individuals covered by Obamacare, who live in fear about what the future holds for them. They included people who opened small businesses because of Obamacare’s coverage portability, and worry that the “career freedom” provided by the law will soon disappear.
Unfortunately, but perhaps unsurprisingly, Vox didn’t ask this small business owner—who also happens to be an Obamacare enrollee—for his opinions on the matter. Like the enrollees in the Vox profile, I’m also incredibly worried about what the future holds, but for a slightly different reason: I’m worried for our nation about what will happen if Obamacare ISN’T repealed.
What Obamacare Hasn’t Done For Me
Unlike many of the individuals in the Vox story, I am a reluctant Obamacare enrollee—literally forced to buy coverage on the District of Columbia’s Exchange because Washington, D.C. abolished its private insurance market. Continue reading
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
Subsidies for health insurance purchased through the marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act are projected to more than double over the next decade, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office.
The report, which evaluated spending for various means-tested programs or programs that offer benefits to those who earn income under a certain threshold, found that spending on Obamacare subsidies will total $42 billion in 2017 and are estimated to more than double to $97 billion by 2027.
In fiscal year 2016, payments for subsidies totaled $31 billion and, according to the budget office, payments will grow rapidly in 2017 and 2018 largely due to the growth in enrollment. Continue reading
by Scott Lloyd • The Federalist
We remember the refrain from the run-up to Obamacare that 40 million Americans are without insurance, and we now have its echo in the Congressional Budget Office report that its repeal could lead to 18 million uninsured. Both of these figures are irrelevant.
If I have a broken leg, as a wounded person I want treatment that will heal it, and I don’t want it to ruin me financially. If I can get affordable care without health insurance, what difference is it to me that I have insurance? Similarly, if I have health insurance and the leg doesn’t get healed, or I am financially ruined, or both, what good is health insurance to me?
When discussing Obamacare replacements, we make a mistake when we focus too much on health insurance. Americans need health care. Universal health care could happen for every American in any number of ways that do not involve universal health insurance and all of the problems that it entails. Continue reading