Sunday, June 23, 2013

Why the Secrecy on Our New Insurance Rate Costs?

Why are American's being kept in the dark about how much insurance rates will jump once the major provisions of Obamacare are implemented 1 January 2014?  How on earth are American's supposed to budget for their health care?

Is it just because the The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is still negotiating the prices with insurers as they flail to set up all of the necessary insurance exchanges?

Or might it be because the price shock is going to be so significant that, politically, it would be unwise to mention?

Or maybe, despite the higher price, coverage won't be so keen after all?

From the Chicago Tribune this morning:

It could be that HHS is keeping a lid on rates because it wants to avoid a California-like debacle.

Last month, California officials crowed that health insurance premiums would fall in their Obamacare exchange. "This is a home run for consumers in every region of California," said the exchange's executive director.

But California officials were off base, according to economists who scrutinized the figures.

Some insurers reportedly controlled costs by cutting out the most expensive hospitals and doctors from their networks and by boosting patients' out-of-pocket payments. "The premiums for the policies that will be offered ... are much higher than analogous plans being sold today," Daniel Kessler, a professor of business and law at Stanford University, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Bottom line: The cost of health insurance in California and the rest of the country will spike for many people, especially the young. At the same time, millions of Americans will be pushed into fledgling, sure-to-be-glitchy exchanges to buy that insurance.

With roughly 100 days before the Oct. 1 opening of exchanges nationwide, federal and state officials have blown deadlines and remain tangled in regulatory confusion, according to twin reports last week from the Government Accountability Office.

Many states running their own small-business exchanges, for example, hadn't finished nearly half the tasks that were supposed to have been done by the end of March, the GAO said. Some states have scaled back offerings to meet the deadline. Others have abandoned the idea of running their own markets and ceded control to the feds.

"Whether (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services') contingency planning will assure the timely and smooth implementation of the exchanges by October 2013 cannot yet be determined," the GAO noted in a rousing vote of no confidence.

The states are scrambling to install a complex system that relies on computers to share data with the Internal Revenue Service, state tax offices, Medicaid, Medicare and other agencies in order to verify customer information. A consultant for Utah's exchange told The Wall Street Journal: "Something will be up and running on Oct. 1. It will be full of issues, bugs and technological challenges." Ack.

The states also need to train tens of thousands of customer service agents to help customers navigate the exchanges. A massive public outreach campaign looms.

Maybe the real reason that politicians are so wary about revealing real insurance costs to America's populace until the last minute is because the curtain of health care costs will rise, in plain dollars and cents, to their electorate.

Suddenly, American's will see that "health care for all" doesn't mean "health care for free." Suddenly, "affordable health care" might not seem so "affordable" after all.  Then they'll realize that this law is the most expensive, unread law to ever be imposed on each of us.  And that's before the IRS gets involved in making sure we pay for it.

No wonder they're so quiet about costs.



Anonymous said...

Yes, costs will go up. Anytime government intrudes on the market, the costs of goods and services go up, and quality of those goods and services go down.
How I long for the days when I could walk into my dentist with a toothache and get treated, pay 30 bucks at the front desk and walk out the door. The last time I did that, there was paperwork galore, x-rays, an hour-long wait, and the cost: $295.00 for the same amount of the Dr.'s time, and the exact same tools used as when I'd had the treatment for 30 bucks.

Frugal Nurse said...

I have tried unsuccessfully for months to get more information from my health insurance provider, Regence. My family has bought an individual, catastrophic, high-deductible, HSA plan for many years and it has suited us just fine, even though premiums have gone up 85% since 2009. The customer service reps at Regence tell me they simply don't know if I will still be able to get that plan or not. So even customer service doesn't understand the details of the ACA and how it will affect policy holders. I have no clue what kind of a plan at what price I will be forced to buy. Frustrated and anxious best describe my feelings about the ACA.

Bruce said...

I have to agree with the Anon, it was so much easier back in the day. But now we have to deal with insurance and of course the government has to butt in as well. I know this when they do finally announce the cost, people are going to be pissed. And the millions of people who were excited for Obamacare are going to be really upset.

Janis Enzenbacher said...

As a physician I was 'invited' to be a part of UNITED health care 'exchanges'
In fact I have to write a letter declining my participation if that is my choice.
This will be my choice as the payment to me for the majority of the codes I bill will be 40% to 60% lower than medicare rates.
I fear it will COST ME MONEY to see these patients.
Yes, this is one of the ways that the affordable care act, is actually not affordable.
Janis L. Enzenbacher,MD