Jason Shafrin, aka The Healthcare Economist, hosted the Health Wonk Review today, and it’s an excellent edition. Some of my favorite articles in this HWR are from Harold Pollack, Tim Jost, and Joe Paduda.
Writing at HealthInsurance.org, Harold takes a look at the recent Annals of Internal Medicine study that dug into the data to see how “Romneycare” (which is similar to Obamacare but predates it by several years) impacted mortality rates among the non-elderly in Massachusetts. The study is fascinating, and Harold takes it a step further by extrapolating the date to a national level – with a disclaimer that doing so can only be seen as a rough estimate. Even still, that estimate is impressive: 24,000 lives saved per year, just by reducing the number of uninsured Americans by 20 million (the CBO’s estimate of Obamacare’s impact).
Tim has an outstanding summary of the exchange enrollment data from October 1 through the end of open enrollment that was released by HHS on May 1. I especially like Tim’s take on the number of enrollees who have paid their premiums so far. The GOP’s claim that only 67% had done so was summarily rebuffed by insurance executives this week, and we know that the number is probably somewhere in the 80 – 90 percent range… and it’s still in flux. But as Tim mentioned, this is pretty routine in the individual market. Every month we receive a list of all of our clients with past due premiums from each carrier. And every month the lists are long. But most people either get caught up before the end of their grace period or else they’re simply opting to terminate their policy because they’re transitioning to other coverage or are unable to afford their plan. For a variety of reasons, the individual health insurance market has a lot of turnover. The insurance carriers who are selling policies both on and off the exchanges are already aware of this, because most of them have were already in the individual market prior to 2014. But for some reason this is a Big Deal for lawmakers who are opposed to the ACA. It would appear that they’re trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.
Joe’s article looks at how the practical implications of Obamacare vary tremendously from one area to another. While journalists tend to look at national data, for practical purposes it’s more important to look at your local area instead. I see this all the time, as I write about both national ACA news and Colorado-focused ACA news. From a practical perspective, our focus is our local Colorado clients who are purchasing individual health insurance policies, both through Connect for Health Colorado and outside the exchange. But we also closely follow the national data and news regarding ACA implementation. Although some things are relatively universal (the quality of new health plans, for example), many other aspects of reform are local. We’re grateful to be in Colorado, where the state has been largely supportive of the ACA, created a state-run exchange, and expanded Medicaid. And we’re glad that our clients have many options from which to choose – Colorado has a robust marketplace with many participating carriers, which is certainly not the case in all states.
Be sure to check out Jason’s Health Wonk Review – there’s a lot of other good stuff over there!