Insurance Shopping

I have for several months tried to make the point that the ACA is a potential train wreck and yet many of my friends seem oblivious to the potential increase in costs and possible loss of services. Yesterday the AP writer Ricardo Alvona-Zaldivar wrote an article entitled “Insurance shopping won’t be as easy as hoped.” I’m going to invite you to read the whole article on line but for my purposes I’m going to bring a few observations that Ricardo and others made.

You may have heard that shopping for Obamacare would be like going to Travelocity or Amazon. Not so fast, Christine Ferguson director of Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange “I never bought into it.” The Obama administration, which will run the markets or take the lead in 35 states, has yet to demonstrate the technology platform that will help consumers get financial help with their premiums and pick a plan.

Christine goes on to say; there will be a significant amount of manual processing of things that will later be automated. Julie Bataille directing the outreach program of the HHS points out that it is a complicated transaction with different components, including arranging financing and picking the right product, bronze, silver, gold and platinum packages. The IRS will calculate the maximum health insurance subsidy that you are entitled to as tax credits.

Two of the phrases used frequently in this article is “it’s unclear.” And there are “going to be delays.”

I urge you to not wait until October 1, 2013 to find out about your health insurance before you must make a decision. My conclusion is that Max Baucus the democrat leader who helped design the ACA bill was accurate when he said; it is a train wreck looking for a place to happen.

Invemed Associates

Invemed Associates is a little known investment firm based in New York City and run by a well-known tycoon Ken Langone co-founder of Home Depot. Invemed is a small firm, fifteen people residing in the state of New York.

As most good business operations would do Invemed looked to an outside firm to get the best health care services at the most reasonable costs. They found that service in ADP, a well-known payroll service company. ADP also offered “collective” health insurance by pulling together many small companies they service with total employee in the range is 200,000 to 300,000 and purchased health insurance using the leverage of the collective people they service.

Recently ADP notified Invemed and other ADP clients that they could no longer “buy” collectively health insurance based on a law proposed by the State of New York Senate. Just after learning this change being proposed in health care purchases by the state of New York Ken got a call from the Governor of New York asking him to help sell the Governors budget in upstate New York. Ken explained how unhappy he was with the proposed bill changing the opportunity to buy health insurance thru ADP for collective savings by buying together. The Governor said he was not aware of this amendment and he immediately told the Senate to delete the amendment that would have been so costly to Ken’s family business of fifteen people when purchasing health insurance.

Ken was appreciative of the Governor’s actions but he inquired of the state agency on how and why did this amendment come into play in the state Senate and his sources said; Human Health Services in Washington had asked the New York State Senate to introduce this amendment. Why you might ask? It is pretty obvious that causing these small companies in New York to pay considerably more for health services and in the process generate more service fees and taxes for HHS to apply to the thirty five million people that the administration and HHS believes will be coming onto the Federally run health insurance program starting in 2014. I’m certain we will find similar stories in other high population key states. I urge you to protect your health insurance program by calling the company that currently services you and your family and ask what are my options and costs for health insurance in 2014

Enroll America

Have you heard of Enroll America? You probably haven’t heard of this organization just like you probably haven’t absorbed the fact that the ACA is here and the mechanics or devil in the details begins now! Enroll America is an Obama created coalition of healthcare providers and advocates, with the emphasis on advocates planning a multi-million-dollar campaign of social media and paid advertising to get people who don’t have health insurance to sign up for ACA participation. Former White House official Anne Filipic is heading the organization.

I draw attention to this organization because Treasury department spokesperson Sabrina Siddiqui points out that “October 1, each state will have a marketplace up and running where consumers can choose a private health insurance plan that fits their health needs and budget.” Right, of course there is a small problem, states are not putting these so called health insurance exchanges in place and the federal government is so far behind in creating these exchanges that they will probably be delayed until 2015. Some might say that’s good because they can avoid Obamacare, not so fast. Even if implementation of the program is delayed your taxes and penalties will not be delayed. The Obama administration is serious about collecting the funds whether or not the ACA program is fully activated.

One example of the government’s seriousness about implementation is their effort to stop some companies who have asked their health insurance companies to have all polices for their employees renewed at the end of 2013 causing the insurance to delay the ACA implementations for at least one year. The Obama administration says this action could under mind the ACA. No kidding, doesn’t the administration get the message, companies and individuals are trying to avoid the increased costs of ACA and the constraints on their health insurance coverage. If you haven’t got the message maybe this will help, it is here and by September of 2013 you’ll be notified of your financial responsibilities by the federal government and you’ll be looking for a way to pay “your fair share” of ACA costs.

I know what will make Obamacare work

The Associated Press in a recent article says that Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat from Illinois indicates ACA will be popular “once Americans see how it works” she goes on to say “they are going to love it much like Medicare.”

However if you go further into the article AP acknowledges that health care costs are going to go up. They point that there is a challenge for the administration, it is new participants in Obamacare. AP says, “They need lots of healthy & Young as well as passive & unengaged to offset the higher costs of covering the sick and the worried.”

I don’t disagree with AP but I question whether or not the young and healthy are going to go into a system when most of them don’t believe they need health care or for that matter they will ever get sick. Further I can’t think of any group that is more “passive & unengaged ‘ than young people. I do agree with AP that if the administration doesn’t get these people Obamacare will fail. However the failure will not occur before it costs American citizens over the age of thirty five tens of millions of dollars in the form of penalties imposed by the Obama administration plus outrageous health care insurance rates.

Obama Changes Medicare Rules?

If you have read any of my blogs or my newspaper Health Care Weekly Review™ you know I have been both predicting and warning anyone who will listen that health care under ACA will be a financial nightmare. Today in a page 4 article from the New York Times written by Jackie Calmes and Robert Pear the Times, a recognized supporter of Obamacare mentions that Obama may well be entertaining altering Medicare rules. Obama is considering combining Medicare parts A & B to create a single deductible that could increase out-of-pocket for many future beneficiaries but could also pay for a cap on the total expenses and reduce the need to buy Medigap supplementary insurance. This idea first floated by Eric Cantor, the number two House Republican back in a speech in February may provide the basis for other “compromises” on Medicare costs that even the Obama administration recognizes are going to be out of hand under the ACA.

3/14/13 Health Insurance – Reality

For some time many people have been signaling the warning bell that health insurance under the ACA [Obamacare] will be much more expensive than current costs but no one could estimate those increased costs. Today Tom Murphy writing for the associated press addressed more clearly what the cost results will be in 2014 and beyond.

The nation’s big health insurances say they expect some bills to double. But to whom and where?

On the other hand Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna calls the price hikes “premium rate shock.” However on further examination Bertolini points out that “the biggest price hikes are expected to hit a group that represents a relatively small slice of the insured population of roughly 14 million people who buy their own health insurance. “

It seems confusing; in one breath the insurance industry says the rise in health care cost for the nation will be twenty to one hundred percent. On the other hand where and who will be affected is uncertain.

Tom Murphy has identified some key issues that I want to share to get a handle on how much and where will health insurance costs increase;

• Age and gender could cause some premiums to rise as much as 50%
• According to AHIP a new tax on insurance premiums could raise prices as much as 2.3% in 2014 and more in subsequent years.
• More required coverage by the ACA or requiring the insurance policy to pay a greater share of the premiums would raise the cost of premiums.
• HHS says the health care costs for young people and families will come down.

According to Tom Murphy “the impact of some cost hikes will be wide-ranging. The new premium tax, for instance, will affect individual insurance, some employer-sponsored coverage and Medicare Advantage policies.”

My conclusion is that even under the best of circumstances our insurance premiums, if we can even afford them will go up substantially for the middle class and older citizens of this country. There is no verdict yet on the quality of the health care services all of us will receive.

Oops!

Oops!

Stories will continue to come out about the uncertainness of legally implementing the Obamacare policies. Today the Associated Press, not an unfriendly media outlet to the Obama administration released an article pointing out that the new “health care law could leave 500,000 kids uninsured” also that the Obama administration says “it hands were tied by the way congress wrote the law.” It would probably be smart for all media outlets to recall that Obamacare was passed in the first two years of his first term when both houses were in the hands of democrats and passed without support by any republicans.
I assure you we will see many more “problems” with Obamacare and they will center on what is becoming a clear fact, Obamacare will cost more to implement, take much longer in the implementation process and require many more “exceptions” to the rules as this process unfolds.