Short-take: Obamacare has cut premium increases

We learn from ThinkProgress that Obamacare has apparently cut health insurance premium increases for the second year in a row.

Oops.

More from ThinkProgress:

For the second year in a row, Obamacare premiums are lower than anticipated and millions of Americans can expect to find affordable health insurance options during the second open enrollment period.

A Center for American Progress analysis of 2015 premium rates for the individual market in states with Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces shows that premiums will increase by an average of only 3.9 percent from 2014 to 2015. This average is for individual coverage for a 27 or 40 year old across all plans in each metal level in each state and weighted by each state’s enrollment by metal level in 2014.

Santa's elves want you to get enrolled in Obamacare.

Santa’s elves want you to get enrolled in Obamacare.


PS As I noted earlier today, I’ve been finding that I’m posting far more things on Facebook than I am on my own blog, because they’re short interesting, or funny things, and I didn’t feel right posting something short on the blog. Such as this post.

But, this is stuff you should read, or it’s stuff that’s funny and worth reading, so I’m no longer going to bite my tongue. You will now occasionally, perhaps even often, get some “short takes” on the blog. They may be just a link to a story, but they’re a story I think you should read.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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37 Responses to “Short-take: Obamacare has cut premium increases”

  1. meryem koca says:

    nice tou midyou america blog http://www.motorlukurye.singles/

  2. Bill_Perdue says:

    Obama and the Congress betrayed the fight for health care reform.

    Obama took about $20 million in bribes and had a couple of dozen secret meetings with the owners of HMOs and Big Pharma and then he scuttled single payer. “The new figure, obtained by Raw Story through an independent custom research request performed by the Center for Responsive Politics — a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics — is the most comprehensive breakdown yet available of healthcare industry contributions to Obama during the 2008 election cycle. Currently, the Center’s website shows that Obama received $19,462,986 from the health sector, which includes health professionals ($11.7m), health services/HMOs ($1.4m), hospitals/nursing homes ($3.3m) and pharmaceuticals/health products ($2.1m).” http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/01/12/obama-received-20-million-healthcare-industry-money-2008/

    While he was getting those bribes, mislabeled “campaign contributions” he was having secret meetings with the health care sector of the .01% . LA Times July 22, 2009 “the
    Obama administration has turned down a request from a watchdog group for a list of health industry executives who have visited the White House to discuss the massive healthcare overhaul. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sent a letter to the Secret Service asking about visits from 18 executives representing health insurers, drug makers, doctors and other players in the debate.”

    Congressional Democrats and Republicans were just as culpable as Obama. Open Secrets March 26, 2009 “health insurance companies’ PACs and employees have given 25 members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation $3.3 million in campaign contributions since the 1990 election cycle, with 53 percent of that going to Democrats”

    Open Secrets goes on to say that “At the top of that list is committee member Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who has collected $680,200 over time for his candidate committee and leadership PAC from the companies. But the industry under scrutiny has also helped pay for the campaigns of committee chair Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who has collected $141,000, while ranking member Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) has brought in $119,700. Blue Cross/Blue Shield has the strongest financial tie to senators currently on the committee, giving $505,700 total, followed by AFLAC, which has donated $337,250 since 1989.” Their bribes were so widespread that Kucinich, the darling of the liberals voted for the sell out.

    As a result of the sellout by Democrats, supported by Republicans, the kind of health care we all need – socialized medicine – whatever you want to call it was betrayed again. Obama and the Democrats and Republicans are criminals for denying health care to working people.

  3. Bill_Perdue says:

    The rich get rich by stealing the wealth created by working people.

    The point of that kind of tax is the skewer the ability of the rich to dominate political and economic life with by reclaiming the money they steal from workers. Profit is theft. Interest on loans is theft. Rent is theft. Capitalism is theft.

    Tens of millions of workers who make well under $15 dollars an hour are highly motivated to fight for a decent wage. I’m on their side and not the side of the rich who howl about being fairly taxed.

  4. StealthVoter says:

    The key quote from Tuesday’s New York Times article:

    “Since Mr. Obama signed the law, share prices for four of the major insurance companies — Aetna, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealth — have more than doubled,”

    As I mentioned before, when you put the leading recipient of health insurance company campaign donations — Senator Max Baucus of Montana — in charge of writing the ACA law, the results are a foregone conclusion. A multi-billion dollar gift of tax payer money to the health insurance companies. All of those subsidies, and all of the actual premiums paid by people who didn’t have insurance before, are going to the insurance companies. In other words, Sen Baucus, Obama, and their corporatist cronies wrote a law to cause 30 million uninsured people to have insurance. Even at a low end of $100 a month ($1200 a year), we’re talking $36 billion handed over to the insurance companies.

  5. StealthVoter says:

    If 100% of income over $250,000 is taxed, then NO ONE will be motivated to make more than $250,000 and thus the tax revenue will be zero.

  6. BlueIdaho says:

    My premium from Blue Cross of Idaho is going up 10% for 2015 or a little over $40. My subsidy has been reduced for 2015 so I will be paying about $100 more a month for the same policy. Still it is cheaper that I was paying before ACA so I’m not going to complain.

  7. Bill_Perdue says:

    “WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the Affordable Care Act’s second open enrollment period begins, 37% of Americans say they approve of the law, one percentage point below the previous low in January. Fifty-six percent disapprove, the high in disapproval by one point.

    Americans were slightly more positive than negative about the law around the time of the 2012 election, but they have consistently been more likely to disapprove than approve of the law in all surveys that have been conducted since then. Approval has been in the low 40% or high 30% range after a noticeable dip that occurred in early November 2013. This was shortly after millions of Americans received notices that their current policies were being canceled, which was at odds with President Barack Obama’s pledge that those who liked their plans could keep them. The president later said, by way of clarification, that Americans could keep their plans if those plans didn’t change after the ACA was passed.”
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/179426/new-enrollment-period-starts-aca-approval.aspx?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_content=morelink&utm_campaign=syndication

  8. Drew2u says:

    OLD HEALTH INSURANCE (until they shrunk their service area, kicking me off):
    Health Tradition Health Plan Silver 4000/80 w/copay 94% HMO
    Estimated Deductible: $700
    Estimated Out-of-Pocket Maximum: $700
    Primary doctor: $0 copay/visit
    Specialist doctor: $0 copay/visit
    Emergency Room care: 0% coinsurance
    Generic Drugs: $0 copay/ 34 day supply

    NEW HEALTH INSURANCE (the best I can afford):
    Medica Applause Bronze Copay
    Estimated Deductible: $6,350
    Estimated Out-of-Pocket Maximum: $6,350
    Primary doctor: $60
    Specialist doctor: $60
    Emergency Room care: no charge after deductible
    Generic Drugs: $20

    Yeah, way-not-happy.

  9. Bill_Perdue says:

    The working poor, and that includes most workers, and especially new hires for the last few years are underemployed, unemployed and poor because they get low wages – the wealth they produce is stolen by the rich.

    The solution is to fight for a decent minimum wage, better than the insulting crap Obama is offering and to demand 40 hours pay even if workers are not permitted to work 40 hours so the rich and their managers don’t have to pay benefits.

    ‘Signifigant’ taxes would equal a 100% tax on all income over $250,000.00 a year from all sources.

  10. Bill_Perdue says:

    Socialized medicine or Medicare/Medicaid for all is cost free for patients because of taxes on the rich and on corporations and thats a good thing. One of the goals of socialists is to tax the rich at the rate of 100% on all income over $250,000.00 from all sources.

    Confiscatory taxes like that will accomplish two immediate goals. First it will reclaim the money stolen from us by the rich (who got rich only by pauperizing workers).

    Secondly it will eliminate the power of the rich to buy political prostitutes like Obama and Romney.

  11. Gayland Shrader says:

    I have ACA Blue Access Gold through Blue Cross Blue Shield…my premium for 2015 went up by a whopping $50.00 per month or $600.00 per year…I am not happy about that but grateful the ACA program is available.

  12. Ty Morgan says:

    Absolutely!

  13. Houndentenor says:

    Mine went down the first year and up slightly (like $40 per quarter) this year. That’s a lot less than the increases we were having in the past.

  14. Houndentenor says:

    Yeah, like the office doesn’t know? This is just what they do?

    So I’ll tell the story and why I know they already know this is how it works.

    So I get a collection bill and it’s from a company I’ve never heard of. I call the number on the bill. They tell me who issued the bill and give me THEIR number. I call them and it’s the company that provided service X at my doctor’s office. Only now are we getting somewhere. So then I call the doctor’s office and yes they were ABOUT to send me a bill for service X and didn’t seem at all surprised or worried (and only apologetic in the most “well I suppose I have to go through the motions of pretending I give a shit” way). So I pay the bill and that’s that. Why not just send me the goddamn bill rather than go through all that. Also, it looked like it was from a collection agency but it wasn’t. A worse one happened to my mom where she was sent a bill for an MRI for several thousand dollars which was fully covered by her insurance. She should never have been sent something at all and the person she called made threats to ruin her credit (which is laughable since her score is 850) etc. What assholes. This is our medical “system” and if the doctors offices don’t like it, then they could fucking do something about it. I used to be against single payer but the insurance companies and the crappy doctor’s office staff have changed my mind. It couldn’t be worse than the nonsense we have now.

  15. StealthVoter says:

    All excellent ideas. None of which are in ACA. ACA was not about providing better health care. It was about insurance. The US Senator in charge of the Senate’s version of ACA (which ultimately was the final version) was Democrat Max Baucus of Montana. He was the LEADING recipient of campaign donations from health insurance companies. So he wrote a bill to put billions of dollars MORE into the coffers of health insurance companies.

    As an aside, that’s my issue with Obama and his cronies. They are not socialists (despite the lunatic accusations of the right) — they are corporatists. Obama talks a socialism game in order to keep the poor on his side, but he’s 100% a corporatist.

  16. StealthVoter says:

    Yes — my employer provides me with a gold-plated “Cadillac plan”. They don’t have to, but they willingly divert more of their profits to a better plan in order to attract good employees.

    And I am more than happy to contribute. I already pay significant Federal and State taxes to support government infrastructure. My only point is that “free” only means free to the poor person who pays no taxes. It does not mean free to anyone else — it means it costs them more money.

  17. docsterx says:

    I agree that you information shouldn’t go to collections before you’ve even been billed once. I can sympathize, it’s happened to me – twice.

    Many doctors’ offices don’t do their own billing anymore. The information on the visit goes to a billing agency and they process it for payment. Make sure that your doctor’s office knows that this has happened. They might be able to find out what’s wrong and get it fixed.

  18. Houndentenor says:

    But they DO pay. they just don’t see it directly. Talk to a hospital administrator about how much of what is owed by patients is never paid by anyone? those costs are passed on to everyone else. We are paying for it, but not getting it. And what’s worse, if we paid for better preventative care or earlier treatment (before the ailment was so severe that the hospital had to admit them rather than patch them up and send them home) it would save more money than anything else we could do. I don’t know why people who claim to be fiscally conservative don’t understand that.

  19. Houndentenor says:

    I know that most of the parts of this that frustrate me are far more frustrating for the doctors. It’s often months before I know what I actually owe from a doctor’s visit. I’m not privy to the back and forth that went on in between the doctor’s office and the insurance company, but then I’d feel worse if they didn’t routinely send a bill out as “collections” before they’ve even told me what I owe. That’s a shitty way to treat patients and it’s common for both doctors’ offices and hospitals. The whole thing stinks.

  20. Houndentenor says:

    I wish I’d kept the email address of the asshole insurance rep that kept sending me warnings that ACA was going to make premiums skyrocket. Mine certainly haven’t and I get a lot more coverage and a lot less hassle. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a hot mess they health care non-system that we have but at least a few bits of it are better.

  21. docsterx says:

    There are several ways to greatly reduce the cost of healthcare that could make it much more cost-effective, but not cost-free. Currently health insurance companies require a lot of paperwork (or computer time) for processing claims, payments, referrals, authorizations, etc. that are “necessary” to protect the health insurance company form scamming patients, doctors and other providers. That’s about an accurate a claim as the Republicans being really worried about “voter fraud.” That can be trimmed.

    Payments are often delayed months. That system can be streamlined to improve cash flow at some strapped small practices. Some doctors need to take out loans to stay afloat because of payments taking 60 days or longer to be paid.

    Medical school costs are enormous as are malpractice premiums. Doctors start out with somewhere near $100k in debt from medical school alone, not considering undergrad educational debt, with interest rates about 6-7%. Depending on the specialty, state, procedures performed, malpractice may cost $20,000 and up. Much more for OB, neurosurgery, ophthalmology and other specialties. There are ways of decreasing these costs. If these charges were reduced or eliminated cost/patient/visit could go down.

    Practice employees often get health insurance paid for by the practice. The cost of that varies based on the number of employees and quality of the policy. With single payer that practice expense would be negated.

    Licensing fees, DEA fees, required professional society memberships, maintenance of certification, examinations, continuing medical education and other “incidentals” may easily cost another $3,000+ per year.

    Those are a few ways that health care costs could be reduced by making the above changes for individual and group practices.

    Now imagine if we also implemented similar cost-saving strategies that would work for hospitals, clinics, surgi-centers, urgi-cares, freestanding laboratories and radiology sites, etc.

    One of the local teaching hospitals has 18 vice-presidents each making $120,000/year in salary, plus a benefit package. That’s not counting salaries for CEO, COO, CMO, CFO, etc. Some of those positions could be consolidated. Hospital administration has become top heavy. That can be cut. Many hospital administrators are nurses, those who get cut can return to regular nursing helping alleviate the stress on the overworked floor and unit nurses. There are several other strategies that can be implemented and the savings could be enormous. Perhaps not enough to make health care totally free but making it much, much cheaper.

  22. timncguy says:

    those damned poor people. they are always costing someone something. and, it’s always the well off people who can afford to pay that get stuck. poor people ought to know better than to be a burden on the rest of society. who do they think they are to think that they should be able to have health care?

  23. timncguy says:

    I just want to know if that Santa’s elves campaign for signing up for Obamacare is real or not. Did they have niche ads placed in the gay community?

  24. nicho says:

    If it weren’t for low income working people, the well off wouldn’t be well off. Take the Walton family, take their money away, and put them on a desert island. Check back in a year and see how wealthy they are.

  25. nicho says:

    ACA — better than what we had before. Still worse than the rest of the industrialized world.

  26. StealthVoter says:

    “Neither party has plan to get us cost
    free, quality health care”.

    The concept of “cost free” is a fantasy. “Cost free” for who? Under ACA, a large portion of my health insurance is now taxed (thanks to clause 9902), and it wasn’t taxed before. So that means I am paying more taxes in order to subsidize someone else. At its logical extreme (NHS), millions of people get absolutely free health care, but that means millions of other people (mostly the well off) are also paying higher taxes in order to fund the doctors, nurses, hospitals, etc.

  27. SkippyFlipjack says:

    To put this premium increase into perspective, an average increase of 3.9 percent is much less than historical premium growth. From 2008 to 2010, the national average rate of premium increase was 10.9 percent, which is 179 percent greater than the increase between 2014 and 2015.

    I’m not sure data that’s at most 6 years old can really be called historical perspective.

  28. Bill_Perdue says:

    What Republicans and Democrats claim about Obamacare/Romneycare is just partisan propaganda and has nothing to do with ending the fundamental flaws of Obamacare/Romneycare. Neither party has plan to get us cost free, quality health care.

    First it’s goal is not to provide quality health care but to increase the profits of large heath care insurance and pharmaceutical companies and that goal has been more than met. Some of the largest health insurers are hitting all-time highs. … Shares of UnitedHealth Group (UNH +0.74%), Humana (HUM +0.91%), Aetna (AET +0.94%) and WellPoint (WLP +1.73%) rallied Wednesday —
    with all four recording all-time highs in the wake of the Obama administration announcement that total enrollment in Affordable Care Act health exchange plans now tops 5 million.
    MSN Money March 20th, 2014 http://money.msn.com/top-stocks/post–insurance-stocks-soar-on-obamacare-sign-ups and also check out http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2013/10/26/despite-glitches-obamacare-profit-windfall-to-insurers-well-underway/

    Second, while Obamacare/Romneycare forbids insurance companies from capping your coverage or charging you more based on health status it will not stop price increases, which are still based on the greed of insurance and pharmaceutical companies and their need for more and more profit gouging. Any premium charges by insurance companies are just profit gouging that’s allowed, encouraged and abetted by the Obama regime.

    And that brings us to the third and greatest problem with Obamacare/Romneycare, it’s not Medicare/Medicaid like many countries have. In England the National Health Service was one of the concessions demanded by working people as a payment for their participation in WWII. “The NHS was born out of a long-held ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth – a principle that remains at its core. With the exception of some charges, such as prescriptions and optical and dental services, the NHS remains free at the point of use for anyone who is a UK resident. That is currently more than 63.2 million people. It covers everything from antenatal screening and routine treatments for long-term conditions, to transplants, emergency treatment and end-of-life care.”

    Insurance company premiums and pharmaceutical company profits are theft. We need socialized medicine.

  29. Indigo says:

    That’ll be fun too. If only they’d wear Kabuki costumes and masks when they do Kabuki, it’d be so much more interesting that way.

  30. BeccaM says:

    From the sound of it, they’re gonna push for full-on Impeachment Kabuki Theater as soon as the new band of GOP seditionists is sworn in to the Congress of Rabid Weasels.

  31. BeccaM says:

    As near as I can tell, based on what I’ve seen on the websites, I can either stick with my current plan — and the monthly premium will remain the same (the numbers match up). Or I can switch to a comparable Gold plan with a different carrier and save about $40/mo.

    Since my primary care physician and group are in both plans, and benefits are pretty close to the same, I’m not seeing the downside of switching. Plus the alternative group is a non-profit, whereas BC/BS ate the insurance group I had been with (Lovelace Healthcare) and I hate BC/BS on principle. I spent the entire summer not knowing when a correct premium bill was going to arrive because they kept f*cking it up — and they got my name wrong, too; I had to send in a copy of my DL to prove my middle name was NOT “Juliette.”

    Anyway, my blood pressure still spikes every time a Republican asshole says I was totally better off and had more precious Amurkin Freeeeedom(tm) when insurance companies could refuse me coverage due to absurdly trivial pre-existing conditions. I should probably get that checked out… and hey, I CAN!

  32. Indigo says:

    If I divine correctly the subtext of Boener’s agenda, first comes the brutal battle against the Affordable Health Care Act as soon as the Republican Wave is sworn in, in January. The blowhards will be mostly discredited by March and with April’s flowers, we’ll be able to watch the Republican Wave backwash drain away. Then the agenda turns to . . .Fear of Hillary . . . ?

  33. Ty Morgan says:

    I’m in Texas and last year my premiums went down. Now it’s reup time so I’s know soon what this year will bring.

  34. Ty Morgan says:

    I looking forward to the day when the states blocking Medicaid give up and allow millions more to get the health care they need. DEMOCRATS wake up, 2016 is coming and this issue MUST BE used against the Republicans. There’s more than enough evidence to confirm the ACA is working so it would, as was proven earlier this month( elections) that running away from the ACA gets you NOTHING..

  35. Naja pallida says:

    I want to see clearer data directly comparing states that took full advantage of everything the ACA, versus states like Texas that have been actively punishing their residents by refusing to. As far as I’ve seen here in TX, not much has changed with premiums so far, and the insurance industry is still constantly threatening huge premium hikes.

  36. Drew2u says:

    Just FYI, after the nightmare of trying to navigate around my governor’s freeze on ACA applications and finally getting health insurance through the marketplace that was about 5x better than what I had before at about 1/7th the cost, I got a letter in the mail two weeks ago from my insurance company saying they dropped everyone in my county after December 31st. So that means I get to not only update my information but shop for a new provider again!
    Thankfully after State-Level Obstructionism, the actual ACA website, signup, and call center went really smooth so it should be muuuch better this time around.

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