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Obamacare costs less than expected

Obamacare will cost $104 billion less over the next ten years according to the Congressional Budget Office. This is the latest in a string of good news for the Affordable Care Act, which now has signed up over 7.5 million Americans.

The launch was disastrous, but now we’re seeing important progress.

Disappointing launch for HealthCare.gov

female worker typing at keyboard fingers

Calling the rollout of the website for the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, is probably an understatement. It’s incredibly disappointing to hear the stories of problems with the website, as it’s so important to so many to have this access to affordable health insurance. Also, regardless of your political opinions, the law is here and for many people having this access will be critical. Don’t let the political hype dissuade you from trying it out.

Still, it’s now likely that many people won’t try it, at not for a while, with all of the much-publicized problems with the website. Hopefully this update from HHS is a sign that they are serious about fixing the problems. They need to fix the problems, and then be diligent in letting people know as the site improves. Fortunately, the media is all over this, so if they finally get it right people should hear about it.

Good news on Obamacare premiums

ID-100139012 doctor and patient
Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We’re finally getting close to the point where people can start buying insurance policies in the Obamacare exchanges, and all of the bluster about “rate shock” is running into reality. The bottom line is that the health care plan will be affordable for many people.

The main takeaway from an exhaustive new study of premiums on the Obamacare health insurance marketplaces: They’re generally going to be lower than expected, undercutting the persistent claims of “rate shock” by conservatives.

Marketplaces premiums are coming in below initial estimates, said the nonprofit, nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation in a new report released Thursday.

The expected monthly premium for a 40-year-old adult purchasing a silver-level plan (the baseline, which covers 70 percent of costs) on a marketplace had been $320, according to previous projections from the Congressional Budget Office. But in 15 of the 18 regions studied by Kaiser, the average premium will be below that — thus the study’s conclusion that the prices are going to be lower than anticipated.

“While premiums will vary significantly across the country, they are generally lower than expected,” the authors wrote.

In some states like Wisconsin, Republican administrations are trying to push the notion that premium prices are rising, but the information they are putting out there excludes the subsidies available to many people.

The key for everyone is to actually go into the health care exchanges once they are open and see for yourself what is available.

Pleasant surprises in store for Obamacare?

Here’s some welcomed good news from of all places California:

Predictions of an Obamacare apocalypse seem a little less credible today, thanks to California.

On Thursday, officials in that state offered the first detailed glimpse of what consumers buying health benefits on their own can expect to pay next year. And from the looks of things, these consumers will be getting a pretty good deal.

Based on the premiums that insurers have submitted for final regulatory approval, the majority of Californians buying coverage on the state’s new insurance exchange will be paying less—in many cases, far less—than they would pay for equivalent coverage today. And while a minority will still end up writing bigger premium checks than they do now, even they won’t be paying outrageous amounts. Meanwhile, all of these consumers will have access to the kind of comprehensive benefits that are frequently unavaiable today, at any price, because of the way insurers try to avoid the old and the sick.

Guys like Paul Krugman are heralding these new numbers.

If these numbers play out in other states as well, we could see a surge of people getting more affordable health insurance coverage.

Are health care costs starting to stabilize?

Health care costs are the biggest contributor to our long term deficits, and so this issue gets a ton of attention in Washington. President Obama has argued for years that simply bending the long term cost curve on health care will result in huge savings regarding government spending helping to reduce deficits. The trend may have already started.

Health care spending growth has famously slowed over the past five years, significantly enough that the Congressional Budget Office recently revised its projections of Medicare and Medicaid spending over the coming decade downward by hundreds of billions of dollars.

Now, research papers suggests the recent slowdown doesn’t just reflect temporary economic weakness, but also structural shifts in how health care is delivered and financed — possibly attributable to the Affordable Care Act — and thus might be a harbinger of a longer-term trend.

If they’re right, and the trend continues, it means workers can expect higher wages and the country’s projected medium term deficits are significantly overstated, which in turn suggests lawmakers’ continuing obsession with the current budget deficit, and deficits over the coming decade, are misguided.

One of the keys to Obamacare is to move our health care system away from fee for service care to health care delivery that takes a holistic approach where doctors and hospitals are paid for overall care and outcomes as opposed to more tests and procedures. It makes sense that this shift has started to decrease overall costs.

Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Affordable Care Act

A victory today for President Obama as the supreme court rules in favor of health care for everyone.

The mandate would require all Americans to purchase health insurance and those who don’t will be penalized with a tax, which in effect, would be the cost of a years worth of coverage.

The court ruled that congress has the right to levy a tax on the citizens of the United States.

The dissenters including Anthony M. Kennedy, contend that the law is overreaching.

The majority, lead Chief Justice Roberts, agree that the Affordable Care Act is Constitutional but did substantially limit the law requiring the expansion of Medicaid by the states.

The court’s ruling, seen as one of the most significant in decades, is a crucial milestone for the law, allowing almost all of its far-reaching changes to roll forward. Several of its notable provisions have already been put in place in the past two years, and more are imminent. Ultimately, it is intended to end the United States’ status as the only rich country with large numbers of uninsured people, by expanding both the private market and Medicaid.

President Obama spoke from the White House shortly after the decision was handed down. “Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives are more secure because of this law,” he said.

Health Care Reform Interesting Facts

As the debate continues to address the constitutionality of national health care, 10 facts which are a part of the reform may impact your daily life.

Take a look at these 2 and read on for more.

A few little known facts about the health care reform law:

2. More breastfeeding rooms and breaks

Many working mothers now get a more appropriate place for expressing breast milk than they had before. Employers must provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”
Nursing mothers also can take “reasonable” breaks during the workday to express milk, as frequently as the mother needs. The exception is companies with fewer than 50 employees, which can claim it’s an undue hardship.

Effective date: March 23, 2010.

The law requires restaurants with 20 or more locations to list calorie content information for standard menu items.

3. Caloric reality at every major chain restaurants
Under the law, you would walk into a place like McDonald’s and see calories listed under every menu item — Big Mac (540 calories), McNuggets (10 pieces- 470 calories) and medium fries (380 calories).
The law requires restaurants with 20 or more locations to list calorie content information for standard menu items on menus and drive-through menus. Other fun facts like fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, fiber and total protein would have to be made available in writing upon request.
So far, there is mixed evidence about whether calorie postings sway nutritional choices.
The rule also extends to vending machine operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines. The FDA issued a report in April 2011, and left out movie theaters among those establishments required to post calories. So, if implemented, you can tell how many calories your sandwich has at Subway, but you won’t be able to tell how many calories your buckets of popcorn have at the movie theater.

Effective date: The FDA has not yet issued a final rule, so there is no time line on its implementation.

These are just 2 of the provisions which will be put into place

The Battle Begins Over Birth Control Coverage

The gauntlet has been thrown down as House Speaker, John Boehner R-Ohio, lets the president know that he is in for a fight over a bill that would allow for mandatory coverage of birth control by private insurance.

“If the president does not reverse the (Health and Human Services) department’s attack on religious freedom, then the Congress, acting on behalf of the American people, and the Constitution that we’re sworn to uphold and defend, must,” House Speaker John Boehner, R- Ohio, said in a speech on the House floor Wednesday.

In a society where Viagra is covered but not birth control one has to wonder about the priorities and the logic.

Obama Health Care Fails

The CLASS Obama health care program is not going forward.

Not enough young, healthy people are signing up to make the program financially viable.

The CLASS program was similar to long-term care plans available in the private sector in which workers sign up and pay a monthly premium. It was voluntary and was to be paid for entirely by the premiums from those who signed up. In return, subscribers would get a daily benefit.

Obama’s Health Care Reform Upheld in Court

Obama’s health care bill is not overturned in a court ruling.

Obama wins this round and now has the Tea Party and Republican party with whom to do battle at the primaries.

A sluggish economy and poor jobs market may just be the momentum behind the president to make this law stick.

But does it help anyone to be required to buy into a broken health care system?

Standardizing costs and preventive health care should be the priority. Supporting big pharmaceutical companies with tax payer dollars will not help in the long run.

“Virginia, the sole plaintiff here, lacks standing to bring this action,” said the ruling from the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. “Accordingly, we vacate the judgment of the district court and remand with instructions to dismiss the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.”

The Richmond-based court becomes the second such federal court to uphold the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, particularly the “individual mandate” provision requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face a financial penalty. Another appeals court had ruled against the administration.

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