News last week focused on how to use insurance coverage, the lack of Latinos signing up under the Affordable Care Act and public-sector employers cutting hours to avoid paying for coverage. Highlights include: USA Today offers 10 tips for people to get the most out of their new coverage under the Affordable Care Act. They include carrying your membership card with you everywhere, understanding your plan’s doctor and hospital network, and avoiding the emergency room unless it is a true emergency. A CNN article reported that Latinos, who may have the most to gain from the Affordable Care Act, don’t appear to be signing up in large numbers. At least one in three Latinos in the United States is uninsured. It is hard to tell how many Latinos are signing up because only the California marketplace asks applicants their race and ethnicity. According to a Commonwealth Fund survey, only 19 percent of Latinos and 20 percent of blacks have looked for coverage on the marketplace compared to 28 percent of whites. The New York Times reported that cities, counties, public schools and community colleges across the country have scaled back work hours of part-time employees to avoid having to provide them health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The Obama administration said this month that it would ease coverage requirements for large employers, but many employers are keeping hours restricted because 2014 hours will be the basis for coverage in 2015. Among those whose hours have been restricted are police dispatchers, prison guards, substitute teachers, bus drivers, athletic coaches, school custodians, cafeteria workers and part-time professors.
News last week focused on a delay in employer requirements and the number of national and local people who enrolled for health insurance in January. Highlights include: USA Today reports that there is another delay in the implementation of the requirement that employers provide health insurance for their employees. The Treasury Department announced that businesses with more than 50 employees but fewer than 100 will have an extra year to provide coverage to employees who work more than 30 hours a week. For employers with more than 100 employees, the mandate starts January 2015. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a USA Today article that more than 1.1 million people signed up for health insurance through state and federal exchanges in January. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 3.3 million are now covered by private plans, including an increasing number of young and healthy people. In Louisiana, sign-ups nearly doubled over the month from December to January. By the end of January, 32,864 people had signed up. Business Week reported that sign-ups are less than 10 percent of those Louisianians who were estimated to be eligible for federal subsidies.
Feb. 10, 2014 News last week focused on the impact of the Affordable Care Act on jobs, where the uninsured live and a possible extension for non-compliant policies. Highlights include: The Washington Post reported on findings of the Congressional Budget Office that show more than 2 million people who would rely on a job for health insurance will quit working, reduce their hours or stop looking for work because of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. In response, President Obama’s Chief Economist Jason Furman said,“The Affordable Care Act today, right now, is helping labor markets, is helping businesses and is helping jobs.” Some Republicans disagreed. “Today’s CBO report gives a sobering outlook on our economy,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said in a statement. “It confirms what we’ve known all along: The healthcare law is having a tremendously negative impact on economic growth. A study conducted for The Associated Press shows that half of those under 65 without insurance live in just 116 of the nation’s 3,143 counties. The Washington Post article also says that half of all 19-39 year olds without insurance live in 108 counties. Federal officials are focusing their efforts on 25 metro areas including Dallas, Houston, Miami, Atlanta, northern New Jersey, Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland and Indianapolis. An article in The Washington Post said that the Obama administration is considering an extension of the decision to let people keep their non-compliant policies. Avalere Health CEO Dan Mendelson said the administration may let policyholders keep that coverage for as long as an additional three years, but no decision has been made. Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Joanne Peters confirmed that the issue is under discussion. “We are continuing to examine all […]
News last week focused on confusion surrounding the Affordable Care Act enrollment deadline and the rise in healthcare spending for states and cities. Highlights include: A new survey reported on by CBS News shows that a majority of Americans aren’t sure of the date they need to purchase insurance by to avoid a penalty. According to a survey by the finance website Bankrate.com, when given a selection of dates to choose from, only 45 percent of those surveyed correctly picked the March 31 deadline. Twenty-four percent of people thought the deadline was Jan. 1, while 11 percent said it was Dec. 31, 2014. The Washington Post reports that while the growth of U.S. healthcare spending slowed in 2012 to just 4 percent, the same is not true for state and local governments. A new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts shows healthcare spending is consuming a greater percentage of state and local government budgets than at any time since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began collecting data. According to CMS and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, state and local governments saw an 8 percent increase from 2011 to 2012, double the national increase.
News last week focused on a drop in the uninsured rate and a potential tax for employers in states that didn’t expand Medicaid. Highlights include: The Huffington Post reports that the nation’s uninsured rate dropped slightly in January. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that the uninsured rate for U.S. adults dropped by 1.2 percentage points, to 16.1 percent. There was not an appreciable change among young adults 18 – 34. The overall drop would mean 2 to 3 million people got coverage. A new analysis reveals that in states that did not expand Medicaid, employers could face more than $1.5 billion in new taxes starting in 2015. A CNBC article quotes the Jackson Hewitt Tax Service analysis as saying that “state government efforts to constrain Medicaid cost growth in and after 2017 may lead to higher net taxes for employers in such jurisdictions beginning in 2015.” The tax will affect employers with more than 50 full-time workers who don’t offer health insurance considered affordable as of 2015.