Wolf in sheep’s clothing? Average rate increases on 2015 Obamacare plans

Moderate “average” rate increases for 2015 exchange plans over 2014 exchange plans have been widely reported in the press and elsewhere.  Well here’s another “not so fast my friend!”

Many folks who purchased ACA plans in 2014 on the exchange may be surprised when they get their January invoices.

Here’s how the wolf disguised as sheep reference plays out.

The “average rate increases” (increases spread across all plans offered without regard to market share) that some experts are proclaiming and the media is reporting are masking a more practical barometer of how policyholders are impacted.

Stripped Down Plans without Any Hospital Benefits?  “Not so fast my friend!”

In last week’s Did You Know Series on Obamacare we pointed out a major glitch or loophole in the healthcare law that actually may allow large employers to avoid health-law penalties by offering stripped down plans that have no hospitalization coverage. Well, in the words of colorful former college football coach and current ESPN College Game Day host Lee Corso “Not so fast my friend!”

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While there’s no official word yet, it sure sounds like this loophole was a screw up, is now on the administration’s radar screen and is likely to be fixed soon. We’ll continue to keep you posted on developments as they unfold. For more about this, here’s the link to a recent article on this topic from Kaiser health News that also appeared in The Washington Post.

Obamacare…Did you know? #4

Here is my final post in the Obamacare…Did you know? series…

Many low-income consumers who bought bronze plans with low premiums but high deductibles in order to comply with Obamacare’s individual mandate are discovering they still can’t afford health care. Reports are that many with insurance coverage purchased on the exchange are returning to the community health centers for treatment. Community health centers cannot turn anyone away. Wonder if the narrow networks that are associated with the exchange products and the well documented problems with these networks including the limited number of providers participating have also had an impact on this?

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Read Some say Obamacare’s affordable coverage isn’t affordable for them

A recent Associated Press-GfK poll that finds that nearly 75 percent of Americans find healthcare reform  “difficult” and nearly half say it is “very hard” to understand.

Health insurance is both expensive and complex.  We work for many great employers who work hard to provide strong coverage to employees while covering much of the cost.  These employers provide leadership, guidance, and pay for a substantial share of the employee’s premium, if not all of it. Their employees should be thankful that they don’t have to wade into current individual market quagmire, most especially the exchanges, to find their own way.

Obamacare: Did you know #1

Obamacare: Did you know #2

Obamacare: Did you know #3

Obamacare…Did you know? #3

I’m doing a series on things I think you should know about Obamacare. Here is installment #3…

There’s a major glitch or loophole in the healthcare law that actually allows large employers to avoid health-law penalties by offering stripped down plans that are devoid of any hospital benefits. That’s right. No hospital benefits at all. Obamacare regulators created an online calculator to certify whether plans offered by large self-insured employers that pay their own medical claims meet the Affordable Care Act’s toughest standard. The Obamacare calculator is used to test “minimum value” for adequate benefits. Many, including your 2-Minute Drill author, were surprised to read in a recent Kaiser Health News story that the calculator approves these plans lacking any hospital benefits.

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Word is that numerous large, low-wage employers with high turnover that haven’t offered medical coverage in the past — retailers, hoteliers, restaurants and other businesses with high worker turnover and lower pay — are considering driving a truck through this loophole by offering plans without any hospitalization coverage. By doing so, they thus protect themselves from some of the employer mandate penalties that come into play next year. Some of the talking heads in the industry claim the calculator was purposely designed this way by the administration. However, I tend to agree with respected consultant Bob Laszewski.  He’s quoted as saying “That’s baloney. Nobody said we’re going to have health plans out there that don’t cover hospitalization. That was never the intention…I think they just screwed up.”  Stay tuned for more on this.

Obamacare…Did you know? #1

Obamacare…Did you know? #2

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