Obamacare updates

Numbers from articles and reports I have read this week:

16% are uninsured.  Current US population is around 310 million

Just a thought: if you cover kids up to age 26 on their parents plan you are not going to have as many 18-26 year olds sign up on their own.

From CNBC.com:  Sebelius noted that a total of 9.6 million people have either enrolled in Obamacare private plans or been qualified for government-run Medicaid health coverage since Oct. 1. Another 3 million or so people under age 26 are covered by the parents’ insurance plans, which is another feature of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

A total of 3,299,492 people had enrolled in Obamacare plans between Oct. 1, the opening of the sign-up window, and Feb. 1, according to HHS.

We don’t know how many of those had prior coverage and have no idea how many of them have actually paid for the insurance

The CBO, which had originally projected that 7 million people would sign up for Obamacare by March 31, recently issued a new projection, of 6 million enrollees by that date.


Articles of interest________________________

Federal Government Releases Final Rule on Employer Shared Responsibility

On Feb. 10, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service released its final rule on the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Highlights from the new guidance include the following:

  • Exempts employers with between 50 and 99 full-time employees from the shared responsibility penalty until 2016, if the employer provides an appropriate certification and meets certain conditions.
  • To avoid a penalty in 2015, employers subject to the mandate must offer coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees or risk penalties for failure to offer coverage to all full-time employees and dependents.
  • To avoid a penalty in 2016, employers subject to the mandate must offer coverage to 95 percent of their full-time employees (and dependents).*

Employers with fewer than 50 full-time employees are not subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions of ACA.

We are currently reviewing the final rule and will provide more information as it becomes available.



HHS Says Over One Million Signed Up For Coverage Under ACA In January.

HHS Secretary Sebelius announced Wednesday that more than 1.1 million people signed up for health insurance through state and Federal health insurance exchanges in January, bringing the total number of enrollees to 3.3 million. There is a great deal of print coverage on the announcement this morning. The tone is mixed, with some reports highlighting the January data as a sign that the early problems with the Federal website have been overcome and others noting that the number of enrollees between the ages of 18 and 34 and the total number of enrollees are lower than the Administration anticipated.

On its front page, USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (2/13, A1, Kennedy) reports that while the total number “is still short of the 4.4 million enrollees that HHS had predicted by this point,” Sebelius “called the statistics ‘very, very encouraging news. We’re seeing a healthy growth in enrollment.’”

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (2/13, Lavender) notes that while enrollment is improving, “the government’s initial target of 7 million by the end of March still seems like a stretch.”

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (2/13, Radnofsky, Subscription Publication) notes that while the total number of enrollees has risen to 3.3 million, enrollment by young Americans remains low. According to government data, 25% of the people who have enrolled in private plans through the exchanges since October were between 18 and 34 years old.

The Washington Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (2/13, Howell) notes that the 25% figure is “short of the 40 percent that experts say is needed to make the economics of the law work.” However, Administration officials “downplayed the significance of a 40-percent goal set by non-government experts, saying the percentage reflects the portion of the uninsured population in the 18-34 age group and that a lower rate among enrollees might not cause premiums to rise.”

On its front page, the New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (2/13, A1, Shear, Abelson, Subscription Publication) quotes HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as saying, “These encouraging trends show that more Americans are enrolling every day, and finding quality, affordable coverage in the marketplace.”

Politico Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (2/13, Cheney, Millman) notes a “slight uptick in interest from young adults, with 27 percent of January sign-ups among people between 18 and 34 years old.” Politico also reports that HHS officials cited the January data as evidence of “growing momentum for the Affordable Care Act,” noting that January is “the second straight month featuring a sharp increase and further evidence that the once-dysfunctional enrollment system has rebounded.”

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (2/13, Levey) reports that the new numbers provide “new evidence that the marketplaces are gaining traction after a disastrous launch last fall,” and notes that the new data “suggest that more young people are coming to the marketplaces: 27% of consumers who signed up for a plan in January were between 18 and 34 years old, compared with 24% in the prior three months.”

On its front page, under the headline “Health Plans Exceed Mark,” the Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (2/13, A1, Goldstein) reports that the “lingering imprint” of the site’s early problems “remains visible in the new report,” noting that the “3.3 million people who have signed up for coverage are about 1 million fewer than federal officials had anticipated by the end of January.” The Post also notes that the percentage of consumers between ages 18 and 34 who signed up for coverage is “substantially less than 40 percent, the level that research has suggested is desirable to help health plans sold through the exchanges keep their prices stable.”

Analyses Weigh In On Latest ACA Figures. An analysis by Politico Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (2/13, Nather) notes that the new numbers are “good news for the White House, because at this point, even basic competence is good news.” While the numbers announced Wednesday are “behind the original expectations,” they are “way ahead of the disaster scenarios that had looked possible during the worst months of the troubled rollout last fall.” Politico notes that the new report “is good enough that it might reset Washington’s expectations: maybe Obamacare isn’t going to be a train wreck after all,” but will be “more like one of those Metro trains that runs kind of slowly, and sometimes stops in the middle of the tracks for no apparent reason, but eventually gets you where you need to go.”

An analysis by the AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (2/13, Alonso-Zaldivar, Vineys) has found that while most states “are still lagging” in enrollments, “an Associated Press analysis of numbers reported Wednesday finds a dozen high-achievers getting ahead of the game.” Connecticut leads the list, having signed up “more than twice the number of residents it had been projected to enroll by the end of January.” Massachusetts “is at the bottom of the list having met only 5 percent of its target.” Despite “Strong political opposition” to the ACA, six Republican-led states, “Florida, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin – are on pace or better.” In addition, New York’s “211,290 sign-ups represent more than 1 1/2 times its goal,” and California, “which leads all the states in enrollment, had met 90 percent of its goal with 728,086 signed up.”



Gallup Survey Shows Uninsured Rate Hitting Five-Year Low.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (2/13, Easley) “Healthwatch” blog reports on a new Gallup survey, released Wednesday, which shows that “the percentage of uninsured people in the United States has fallen to a five-year low.” According to the poll, around 16 percent of adults are uninsured, down “from the multi-year high of 18 percent in 2013, and from 17.1 in the previous survey quarter.” Though it comes as the Obama Administration announced a total of 3.3 million Americans have signed up for coverage under the ACA, Gallup “warned it was too early to attribute the drop in the uninsured to ObamaCare.”

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