Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2019. The final rule will mitigate the harmful impacts of Obamacare and empower states to regulate their insurance market. The rule will do this by advancing the Administration’s goals to increase state flexibility, improve affordability, strengthen program integrity, empower consumers, promote stability, and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens imposed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The real story is that rates, especially for older people, have risen so much in the individual and family market that health insurance under the IRS definition of being unaffordable can happen at a very young age. Below are examples of the least expensive Bronze plan rates in Region 1 and Region 3. Within a thirty minute drive between Auburn (Region 3) and Grass Valley (Region 1) in Northern California the rates can be sharply higher.
Based on the data I’ve seen, the ratio of the actuarially fair cost differential of insuring someone in their 20s and someone in their late 50s or early 60s is roughly 5 to 1. Setting the ratio at 3 to 1 causes distortions that unfavorably impacts young adults and, as a result, degrades the risk pool. Insurance companies are reluctant to put themselves in a position in which they risk losing money with additional customers and will set prices for older adults so that they can recover their costs in that age group. The 3 to 1 ratio limits how much they can reduce premiums for young adults. The resulting premiums represent “unfair” insurance for young adults and discourages them from purchasing insurance. Discouraging young adults from purchasing insurance exacerbates the adverse selection problem in the insurance market and reduces the incentive for insurance companies to compete for older customers.
31,493 tax returns – programming errors caused the IRS to incorrectly compute the allowable PTC amount. As a result, 16,375 taxpayers potentially received approximately $5.2 million more in the PTC than they were entitled to receive, and 15,118 returns potentially received approximately $6.7 million less in the PTC than they were entitled to receive. IRS management informed us that programing was updated on or before July 31, 2016. We will evaluate the IRS’s corrective action in our annual assessment of the 2017 Filing Season.
Access to health care services is not equal in the United States. Your health plan determines the type of care you receive. The health plans in the employer, individual, and Medicaid markets are separate and they are not equal. The ACA moved us in direction of more equality for all residents regardless of the market type of the health plan. Current Republican proposals under President Trump will widen the gap in disparity between group plans and individual plans. We need to move in a direction the guarantees access to the same level of health care services regardless of whether you work for government, a large employer, have your own individual plan, or are awarded Medicaid because of your income. It is time to dismantle the flawed ‘separate but equal’ assumption of health insurance in the United States.
The RFI is not a serious attempt at gathering comments on how to stabilize the health insurance markets across the country. Trump and Price have already set in motion the slow dismantling of regulations that kept the ACA markets relatively stable. This is a thinly veiled attempt to generate regulation gutting suggestions that will further destroy meaningful health insurance for Americans. I can guarantee that any real suggestions that would work to contain health care costs, which are the real driver of ever escalating health insurance premiums, will be ignored.
The similarities between Medicare Advantage plan and the ACA plans through the Marketplace are straight forward. Individuals are enrolling in private ACA health insurance and the federal government is subsidizing part of the cost of the health insurance to make it affordable. One of the main differences is how the federal government reimburses the insurer. Medicare beneficiaries receive an indirect subsidy to purchase a Medicare Advantage plan according to county they live in and based on historical health care cost data. Individuals and families enrolling in a health plan through an Affordable Care Act exchange receive a subsidy based on their income.
HHS has already launched a new page aimed at touting their latest attempts to revise the Affordable Care Act. Providing Relief Right Now for Patients links to initiatives HHS hatchet man Price has started to improve (gut) the ACA. The page states, “We are going through every page of regulations and guidance related to the Affordable Care Act to determine whether or not they work for patients and whether or not they are making our health care system better.”
In order determine how my clients might be affected by the proposed new Premium Tax Credits under the American Heath Care Act (AHCA or Trumpcare) introduced by the Republicans in March 2017, I compared the current income based Premium Tax Credits under the ACA to the new age based tax credits of the AHCA. On average, my clients included in the comparison will lose $157 per month to help pay for their health insurance. Young individuals, under 30 years old, have the smallest change of premium tax credit under the age based rules. Within my clients, people over 55 year old will get hit the hardest losing $200 to $400 per month in premium tax credit assistance.
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones slammed President Trump’s Executive Order relaxing enforcement of the Affordable Care Acts provisions as potentially destabilizing to the health insurance market.