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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Obamacare Remains Problematic

The New York Times reports on hospitals such as Memorial Health in Savannah:
Many of these patients were expected to gain health coverage under the Affordable Care Act through a major expansion of Medicaid, the medical insurance program for the poor. But after the Supreme Court in 2012 gave states the right to opt out, Georgia, like about half the states, almost all of them Republican-led, refused to broaden the program.
Now, in a perverse twist, many of the poor people who rely on safety-net hospitals like Memorial will be doubly unlucky. A government subsidy, little known outside health policy circles but critical to the hospitals’ survival, is being sharply reduced under the new health law.
The subsidy, which for years has helped defray the cost of uncompensated and undercompensated care, was cut substantially on the assumption that the hospitals would replace much of the lost income with payments for patients newly covered by Medicaid or private insurance. But now the hospitals in states like Georgia will get neither the new Medicaid patients nor most of the old subsidies, which many say are crucial to the mission of care for the poor.
“We were so thrilled when the law passed, but it has backfired,” said Lindsay Caulfield, senior vice president for planning and marketing at Grady Health in Atlanta, the largest safety-net hospital in Georgia.
Gallup reports:
In the midst of widespread news coverage of problems with the federal health exchange website, relatively few uninsured Americans (18%) -- the primary target population for the exchanges -- have so far attempted to visit an exchange website. The percentage is slightly higher, 22%, among uninsured Americans who say they plan to get insurance through the exchanges.
Gallup previously found that less than half of uninsured Americans (44%) who plan to get insurance say they will do so through an exchange, and about one in four say they are more likely to pay a fine instead of getting insurance. These findings help explain the low percentage of the uninsured who have attempted to access the exchange websites
Politico reports:
Only five people have fully completed the enrollment process in the D.C. insurance exchange, according to information compiled by lawmakers from four of the insurance companies participating in the exchange.
Two people enrolled in CareFirst BlueShield plans during October and three enrolled in Kaiser Permanente plans during the month. No enrollment data has been collected by UnitedHealthcare or Aetna as of Nov. 4 or Oct. 24, respectively, the companies said.
The information was collected by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). 
MediaIte reports:
“Thnx Mr. President.” That’s all former MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan had to say to President Barack Obama on Thursday when he announced that the health insurance plan he purchased on the individual market after leaving the news network was being cancelled. The new plan he was eligible would cost him 3.5 times more than his previous plan.
“I bought a catastrophic health policy for $170/mo when I left MSNBC,” Ratigan confessed. “Obamacare cancelled the policy. New rate $600/mo. Thnx Mr. President!”