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ACA Health Marketplaces in the News: Lower Rates, More Accountability

After 37 votes, one would think the GOP would be ready to move on from their dead-end political strategy to repeal the Affordable Care Act… but they are not content with sitting back and letting the “law of the land” benefit millions of Americans. The GOP’s latest objective is to undermine the health insurance Marketplaces at every turn, driving up costs and limiting access to affordable, quality insurance coverage. From Bloomberg:

Opponents of President Barack Obama’s health-care law are gearing up for a new round of attacks, this time targeting the legislation’s insurance exchanges that would expand coverage to millions of Americans…

While opposition to the health-care program is nothing new, the tactics are changing. Rather than focusing on repealing the law in Congress and the courts, two avenues that have failed so far, the groups are aiming to prevent the cornerstone of the legislation, the insurance exchanges, from succeeding. Their goal is to limit enrollments, drive up costs, and make it easier to roll back all or part of the law later. [5/28]

But many state Marketplaces are already gearing up for business – holding insurance companies accountable and preparing to expand access to insurance plans at affordable rates to millions of Americans across the country.

NPR: Health Insurance At ‘Good Prices’ Coming To Calif. Exchange

California just unveiled a wide array of choices for the 5.3 million people expected to qualify to buy coverage through its online marketplace established by the federal health overhaul.

It’s the first disclosure of prices in the nation’s most populous state for individual health insurance that complies with the Affordable Care Act, and the menu of affordable options surprised some consumer advocates and analysts who had been expecting premiums to be much higher…

Nearly three dozen health plans submitted bids to sell their products in the competitive marketplace, and 13 were selected. But California exchange officials, authorized by state lawmakers to negotiate on behalf of consumers, rejected bids that were too expensive, they said, or failed to include enough choices of doctors and hospitals. [5/24]

AP: Health Reform Plans, Pricing Released in California

Californians are finally getting to see what “Obamacare” means for them…

Some of the state’s largest individual health insurers, including Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente and Health Net Inc., will be among the 13 plans competing through the state’s new health exchange…

“California really demonstrates that the concept of an exchange can work by really increasing head-to-head plan competition,” said Caroline Pearson, vice president of Avalere Health, a Washington, D.C. data analysis firm catering to the health care industry and government.  “It brought a lot of carriers into the market. It brought premiums down.  It was sort of the best example of the market working.” [5/23]

Reuters: Two states say 2014 Obamacare insurance costs on low side

In a boost for President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law, two states in the Northwest said on Friday that insurance companies submitted applications to sell policies on the states’ health insurance exchanges at rates well below what some insurance executives had predicted.

The insurance marketplaces are a key element of the reform law, which is due to take full effect in 2014. A core principle of these exchanges is that competition, along with government subsidies and other measures, will keep rates affordable…

“We were pleasantly surprised at how great the rates look,” said Washington exchange spokesman Michael Marchand. “After subsidies many people will pay even less, and they’ll get more benefits” than are offered in many current policies. [5/17]

Seattle Times:  Some may see lower rates under Obama health law

Some Washington residents may see lower insurance premiums under President Barack Obama’s health care law, with proposed plans released Tuesday countering concerns expressed by the insurance industry just a year ago…

Premera Blue Cross currently offers individual plans for 21-year-old non-smokers at a monthly cost of $325, with a deductible of $1,800.  In the exchange, that same person in King County could purchase a similar Premara plan with a lower deductible with a rate of $276 – a decrease of 15 percent. [5/14]

Bloomberg: Vermont Insurance-Exchange Rates Show Savings From Health Law

Vermont residents may save money on medical insurance through subsidized exchange plans under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, according to the first state look at premiums under the 2010 health law.

The Vermont rates provide an initial analysis of how much health insurance may cost Americans nationwide as the law’s core provision kicks in next year. In Vermont, a couple earning $32,000 a year would pay about $134 a month after U.S. subsidies for a certain level of coverage that would have cost them $248 under the state’s existing program, according to a comparison document published by the state. [4/2]

USA Today: Market, insurers will keep premiums low, analysts say

Market forces and an impetus to attract younger, healthier people into the insurance market will help keep health insurance premiums lower as the 2010 health care law takes effect on Jan. 1, industry analysts and insurance officials say. [5/21]

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