Daily News Briefing: Health costs soared 78 percent thanks to the ‘Affordable’ Care Act

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 11.20.18 AM

In its first year, Obamacare hiked health insurance premiums by up to 78 percent, according to a new analysis comparing insurance costs before and after Obamacare.

HealthPocket, a nonpartisan health insurance research company, analyzed government data on individual health insurance premiums in the 2013 market before Obamacare reforms and 2014′s Obamacare exchanges, and the results are in: Average premiums are higher for all ages– far above the norm for annual increases.

Young customers have been hurt the worst by Obamacare– a big potential problem for the Obama administration, which failed to attract enough young and healthy customers during the first round of exchange enrollment. But people just several years away from Medicare have been hit with double-digit hikes as well. The average, non-weighted premiums across three different age groups are higher by over 20 percent for both men and women.

The hardest hit are 23-year-old men, who are being charged 78 percent more this year than they were in 2013; 23-year-old women pay a paltry 45 percent more in 2014 than they did before Obamacare. The picture isn’t much rosier for 30-year-olds, though: The average premium rose 73 percent for men, and 35 percent for women.

Men are seeing their premiums skyrocket because Obamacare bans insurers from charging women more — even when they use more health care services. The health-care law also requires insurers to cover a boatload of services in every plan, whether customers want it or not. Included in that 78 percent-higher premium for 23 year-old men: maternity and newborn coverage– just in case.

Of course, seniors are paying for those services as well. For the 63-year-old age group, just two years away from Medicare eligibility, men were dealt a 22.7 percent increase, while women’s premiums are 37.5 percent higher.

Obamacare’s more popular provisions are causing the rate hikes as well. Because insurers are required to accept customers with pre-existing conditions, insurers are incurring additional costs from chronically ill patients.

The study doesn’t include subsidy payments, which the Obama administration often points to when discussing Obamacare premium hikes. The taxpayer-provided subsidies cover some of the price hikes for customers between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

With high double-digit hikes, however, the prices are still likely to hit home for many people, including taxpayers. Middle-class earners are likely feeling Obamacare cost increases twice-over: once in their own health insurance costs, and once again in their tax bill.

The largest price hikes likely came over the past year, when Obamacare’s biggest reforms took place– and customers may see another surge in 2017, according to experts, when an Obamacare provision cutting down on risk for insurers will end. And insurance prices are likely increasing in 2015 as well. The administration will be releasing data on 2015 premiums in November– just after next week’s midterm elections.

During his 2008 campaign, Obama made a promise for a $2,500 cut in annual health care costs for the average family, and while that’s long out the window, he’s continued to tout supposed Obamacare savings. As recently as Oct. 2, he told an audience at Northwestern University that premium hikes have slowed.

Over 214,000 Doctors Opt Out of Obamacare Exchanges

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 11.20.18 AM

By Barbara Boland

Over 214,000 doctors won’t participate in the new plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA,) analysis of a new survey by Medical Group Management Association shows. That number of 214,524, estimated by American Action Forum, is through May 2014, but appears to be growing due to plans that force doctors to take on burdensome costs. It’s also about a quarter of the total number of 893,851 active professional physicians reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In January, an estimated 70% of California’s physicians were not participating in Covered California plans.

Here are some of the reasons why:

1. Reimbursements under Obamacare are at bottom-dollar – they are even lower than Medicare reimbursements, which are already significantly below market rates. “It is estimated that where private plans pay $1.00 for a service, Medicare pays $0.80, and ACA exchange plans are now paying about $0.60,” a study by the think-tank American Action Forum finds. “For example, Covered California plans are setting their plan fee schedules in line with that of Medi-Cal-California’s Medicaid Program-which means exchange plans are cutting provider reimbursement by up to 40 percent.”

2. Doctors are expected to take on more patients to make up for the lost revenue, but that’s not happening, because primary care doctors already have more patients than they can handle. “Furthermore, physicians are worried that exchange plan patients will be sicker than the average patient because they may have been without insurance for extended periods of time, and therefore will require more of the PCPs time at lower pay,” says the study.

The study also points to two reasons that doctors might not get paid at all:

3. An MGMA study indicates that 75% of ACA patients that had seen doctors had chosen plans with high deductibles. Given that most of the patients are low-income, doctors are concerned that the patients cannot meet the deductibles and they will get stuck with the bill.

4. HHS requires that insurers cover customers for an additional 90 days after they have stopped paying their premiums: the insurer covers the first 30 – but, it’s up to the doctor to recoup payment for the last 60 days. This is the number one reason providers are opting to not participate in the exchange plans. Currently, about a million people have failed to pay their premiums and had their plans canceled.

So, Obamacare is asking doctors to take on sicker patients for less money, with the risk of not getting paid at all? No wonder doctors are running from these plans!

Tax refunds will be cut for ACA recipients

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 11.55.49 AM

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press 9:10 a.m.

A significant benefit of the Affordable Care Act is the opportunity to receive money-saving tax credits up front to cut the overall cost of health insurance, but now hundreds of thousands of consumers could owe back some of that money next April.

Those affected took advance payments of the premium tax credit for health insurance. Some married couples could owe $600 or $1,500 or $2,500 or even more. It might feel like a raw deal for some who are already suffocating under the escalating costs of health insurance.

“Health insurance is confusing enough, and now they’re adding the complexities of the Tax Code,” said Lorena Bencsik, a member of the Michigan Association of CPAs and owner of Prime Numbers in Ferndale.

When you file that 2014 tax return next year, the Internal Revenue Service will compare your actual income for the year with the amount you estimated when applying for exchange-based health insurance under the health insurance law.

The next open enrollment period begins Nov. 15. But notices were sent this week to some consumers whose incomes don’t match up to such things as 2012 tax return information.

On Monday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said at least 279,000 households reported incomes that still don’t match what the government has on record. Supporting documents are needed by Sept. 30.

What can you do to avoid tax-time problems?

Experts say people need to realize early on that they should report changes in income and other changes in one’s life, such as a marriage, throughout the year. See HealthCare.gov to report “income and life changes.”

Of course, many people may have no idea that they’d need to report changes.

The IRS put out some more details on the issue mid-month.

What should you report? A move, an increase or decrease in income, a marriage or divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, whether you started a job that offers health insurance and whether you gained or lost eligibility for other health care coverage.

Best spots for information: HealthCare.gov and IRS.gov/aca.

Karen Pollitz, senior fellow with the Kaiser Family Foundation, said many people who qualify for these tax credits aren’t working 9-to-5 jobs with regular salaries. So guesstimating one’s income for the coming year can be very tough.

“It’s people in transition. Maybe they’re in and out of work,” she said. Or maybe they’re self-employed.

People who lose a job would want to report that change during the year, as well, because that change can lead to a higher advance payment for the credit.

“Life changes can drive tax changes,” said Mark Steber, chief tax officer for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.

Steber stressed that people need to make sure to update information via HealthCare.gov or their state insurance exchanges.

The Kaiser Family Foundation site has a calculator to help figure out potential tax credits, based on one’s situation.

Premium tax credits are available to individuals and families with incomes between 100% of the federal poverty line ($23,550 for a family of four this year) and 400% of the federal poverty line ($94,200 for a family of four) who purchase coverage in the health insurance marketplace in their state.

The tax credits are paid directly to the insurer, if taken in advance. People are not required to take the entire credit in advance. Realistically, if you cannot afford insurance, you’d need some credit in advance.

To be sure, there are some caps on the amount filers must pay back and the cap is based on household income. The cap ranges from $300 to $1,250 for some single taxpayers and $600 to $2,500 for married taxpayers, again based on income.

But if the income is 400% or more above the poverty line, there is no cap and the taxpayer must pay back the full amount.

Rules exist for qualifying for the premium tax credit: You must buy health insurance through the marketplace; you’re not eligible for coverage through an employer or government plan; your income must be within certain limits; you do not file a married-filing-separately federal tax return (unless you meet certain exceptions, such as victims of domestic abuse and spousal abandonment) and you cannot be claimed as a dependent by another person.

The actual credit would vary based on how close your are to the federal poverty level, your age, the size of your family and where you live.

Sadly, it’s fair to say some people will see some unexpected, unpleasant surprises on their tax returns next year.

REPORT: US SPENT $22 TRILLION ON FAILED ‘WAR ON POVERTY’

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 6.57.54 PM

That’s because welfare is meant to keep people dependent of gov’t

Robert Rector

Robert Rector is a leading national authority on poverty, the U.S.welfare system and immigration and is a Heritage Foundation Senior Research Fellow.

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau will release its annual report on poverty. This report is noteworthy because this year marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s launch of the War on Poverty. Liberals claim that the War on Poverty has failed because we didn’t spend enough money. Their answer is just to spend more. But the facts show otherwise.

>>> Full Report: The War on Poverty After 50 Years

Since its beginning, U.S. taxpayers have spent $22 trillion on Johnson’s War on Poverty (in constant 2012 dollars). Adjusting for inflation, that’s three times more than was spent on all military wars since the American Revolution.

One third of the U.S. population received aid from at least one welfare program at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient in 2013.

The federal government currently runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs. These programs provide cash, food, housing and medical care to low-income Americans. Federal and state spending on these programs last year was $943 billion. (These figures do not include Social Security, Medicare, or Unemployment Insurance.)

>>> INFOGRAPHIC: 9 Facts About How the Poor in America Live

Over 100 million people, about one third of the U.S. population, received aid from at least one welfare program at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient in 2013. If converted into cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all poverty in the U.S.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 6.59.45 PM
But today the Census will almost certainly proclaim that around 14 percent of Americans are still poor. The present poverty rate is almost exactly the same as it was in 1967 a few years after the War on Poverty started. Census data actually shows that poverty has gotten worse over the last 40 years.

How is this possible? How can the taxpayers spend $22 trillion on welfare while poverty gets worse?

The typical family that Census identifies as poor has air conditioning, cable or satellite TV, and a computer in its home.

The answer is it isn’t possible. Census counts a family as poor if its income falls below specified thresholds. But in counting family “income,” Census ignores nearly the entire $943 billion welfare state.

For most Americans, the word “poverty” means significant material deprivation, an inability to provide a family with adequate nutritious food, reasonable shelter and clothing. But only a small portion of the more than 40 million people labelled as poor by Census fit that description.

The media frequently associate the idea of poverty with being homeless. But less than two percent of the poor are homeless. Only one in ten live in mobile homes. The typical house or apartment of the poor is in good repair and uncrowded; it is actually larger than the average dwelling of non-poor French, Germans or English.

According to government surveys, the typical family that Census identifies as poor has air conditioning, cable or satellite TV, and a computer in his home. Forty percent have a wide screen HDTV and another 40 percent have internet access. Three quarters of the poor own a car and roughly a third have two or more cars. (These numbers are not the result of the current bad economy pushing middle class families into poverty; instead, they reflect a steady improvement in living conditions among the poor for many decades.)

The intake of protein, vitamins and minerals by poor children is virtually identical with upper middle class kids. According to surveys by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the overwhelming majority of poor people report they were not hungry even for a single day during the prior year.

We can be grateful that the living standards of all Americans, including the poor, have risen in the past half century, but the War on Poverty has not succeeded according to Johnson’s original goal. Johnson’s aim was not to prop up living standards by making more and more people dependent on an ever larger welfare state. Instead, Johnson sought to increase self-sufficiency, the ability of a family to support itself out of poverty without dependence on welfare aid. Johnson asserted that the War on Poverty would actually shrink the welfare rolls and transform the poor from “taxeaters” into “taxpayers.”

Judged by that standard, the War on Poverty has been a colossal flop. The welfare state has undermined self-sufficiency by discouraging work and penalizing marriage. When the War on Poverty began seven percent of children were born outside marriage. Today, 42 percent of children are. By eroding marriage, the welfare state has made many Americans less capable of self-support than they were when the War on Poverty began.

Bono Quote, free enterprise

President Obama plans to spend $13 trillion dollars on means-tested welfare over the next decade. Most of this spending will flow through traditional welfare programs that discourage the keys to self-sufficiency: work and marriage.

Rather than doubling down on the mistakes of the past, we should restructure the welfare state around Johnson’s original goal: increasing Americans capacity for self-support. Welfare should no longer be a one way hand out; able-bodied recipients of cash, food and housing should be required to work or prepare for work as condition of receiving aid. Welfare’s penalties against marriage should be reduced. By returning to the original vision of aiding the poor to aid themselves, we can begin, in Johnson’s words, to “replace their despair with opportunity.”

The 35.4 Percent: 109,631,000 on Welfare

Capture

By Terence P. Jeffrey

109,631,000 Americans lived in households that received benefits from one or more federally funded “means-tested programs” — also known as welfare — as of the fourth quarter of 2012, according to data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau has not yet reported how many were on welfare in 2013 or the first two quarters of 2014.

But the 109,631,000 living in households taking federal welfare benefits as of the end of 2012, according to the Census Bureau, equaled 35.4 percent of all 309,467,000 people living in the United States at that time.

When those receiving benefits from non-means-tested federal programs — such as Social Security, Medicare, unemployment and veterans benefits — were added to those taking welfare benefits, it turned out that 153,323,000 people were getting federal benefits of some type at the end of 2012.

Subtract the 3,297,000 who were receiving veterans’ benefits from the total, and that leaves 150,026,000 people receiving non-veterans’ benefits.

The 153,323,000 total benefit-takers at the end of 2012, said the Census Bureau, equaled 49.5 percent of the population. The 150,026,000 taking benefits other than veterans’ benefits equaled about 48.5 percent of the population.

When America re-elected President Barack Obama in 2012, we had not quite reached the point where more than half the country was taking benefits from the federal government.

It is a reasonable bet, however, that with the implementation of Obamacare — with its provisions expanding Medicaid and providing health-insurance subsidies to people earning up to 400 percent of poverty — that if we have not already surpassed that point (not counting those getting veterans benefits) we soon will.

What did taxpayers give to the 109,631,000 — the 35.4 percent of the nation — getting welfare benefits at the end of 2012?

82,679,000 of the welfare-takers lived in households where people were on Medicaid, said the Census Bureau. 51,471,000 were in households on food stamps. 22,526,000 were in the Women, Infants and Children program. 20,355,000 were in household on Supplemental Security Income. 13,267,000 lived in public housing or got housing subsidies. 5,442,000 got Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. 4,517,000 received other forms of federal cash assistance.

How do you put in perspective the 109,631,000 people taking welfare, or the 150,026,000 getting some type of federal benefit other than veterans’ benefits?

Well, the CIA World Factbook says there are 142,470,272 people in Russia. So, the 150,026,000 people getting non-veterans federal benefits in the United States at the end of 2012 outnumbered all the people in Russia.

63,742,977 people live in the United Kingdom and 44,291,413 live in the Ukraine, says the CIA. So, the combined 108,034,390 people in these two nations was about 1,596,610 less than 109,631,000 collecting welfare in the United States.

It may be more telling, however, to compare the 109,631,000 Americans taking federal welfare benefits at the end of 2012 to Americans categorized by other characteristics.

In 2012, according to the Census Bureau, there were 103,087,000 full-time year-round workers in the United States (including 16,606,000 full-time year-round government workers). Thus, the welfare-takers outnumbered full-time year-round workers by 6,544,000.

California, the nation’s most-populated state, contained an estimated 38,332,521 people in 2013, says the Census Bureau. Texas had 26,448,193 people, New York had 19,651,127, and Florida had 19,552,860. But the combined 103,984,701 people in these four massive states still fell about 5,646,299 short of the 109,631,000 people on welfare.

In the fourth quarter of 2008, when President Obama was elected, there were 96,197,000 people living in households taking benefits from one or more federal welfare programs. After four years, by the fourth quarter of 2012, that had grown by 13,434,000.

Those 13,434,000 additional people on welfare outnumbered the 12,882,135 people the Census Bureau estimated lived in Obama’s home state of Illinois in 2013.

OBAMA OFFICIAL DELETED OBAMACARE EMAILS SOUGHT BY CONGRESS

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 6.53.54 PM

Administrator of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services deleted some of her emails

Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

The administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) deleted some of her emails and may not be able to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the flawed Obamacare rollout, CMS has warned Congress.

Marilyn Tavenner, who was appointed by President Obama to take over CMS within the Department of Health and human Services in 2013 — prior to the Obamacare rollout — deleted some of her emails and did not save hard copies as the Federal Records Act requires her to do, MSNBC reported Thursday.

Though Tavenner’s computer did not crash like ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s computer allegedly did, Tavenner may be unable to cooperate with House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subpoenas.

“During her entire tenure at CMS, Ms. Tavenner’s CMS email address, which is accessible to both colleagues and the public, has been subject to write-in campaigns involving thousands of emails from the public,” according to a letter CMS sent Wednesday to the National Archives and Records Administration. “Therefore, she receives an extremely high volume of emails that she manages daily. To keep an orderly email box and to stay within the agency’s email system capacity limits, the Administrator generally copied or forwarded emails to immediate staff for retention and retrieval, and did not maintain her own copies.”

CMS noted that this practice of not keeping emails “continued until November 2013,” just one month after the Obamacare website launched.

“It is possible that some emails may not be available to HHS,” the letter stated.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/08/07/obama-official-deleted-obamacare-emails-sought-by-congress/#ixzz3A8BGXosj

Obama Official Deleted Obamacare Emails Sought By Congress

Capture

Patrick Howley

The administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) deleted some of her emails and may not be able to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the flawed Obamacare rollout, CMS has warned Congress.

Marilyn Tavenner, who was appointed by President Obama to take over CMS within the Department of Health and human Services in 2013 — prior to the Obamacare rollout — deleted some of her emails and did not save hard copies as the Federal Records Act requires her to do, MSNBC reported Thursday.

Though Tavenner’s computer did not crash like ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s computer allegedly did, Tavenner may be unable to cooperate with House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subpoenas.

“During her entire tenure at CMS, Ms. Tavenner’s CMS email address, which is accessible to both colleagues and the public, has been subject to write-in campaigns involving thousands of emails from the public,” according to a letter CMS sent Wednesday to the National Archives and Records Administration. “Therefore, she receives an extremely high volume of emails that she manages daily. To keep an orderly email box and to stay within the agency’s email system capacity limits, the Administrator generally copied or forwarded emails to immediate staff for retention and retrieval, and did not maintain her own copies.”

CMS noted that this practice of not keeping emails “continued until November 2013,” just one month after the Obamacare website launched.

“It is possible that some emails may not be available to HHS,” the letter stated.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/08/07/obama-official-deleted-obamacare-emails-sought-by-congress/#ixzz39jyOTeVF