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Posts tagged ‘Insurance’

Michael Moore: ‘Awful’ Obamacare is Liberals’ ‘Dirty Little Secret’.


Image: Michael Moore: 'Awful' Obamacare is Liberals' 'Dirty Little Secret'

Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, whose 2007 documentary “Sicko” slammed the health care industry, blasted Obamacare Wednesday as “awful.”

“That is the dirty little secret many liberals have avoided saying out loud for fear of aiding the president’s enemies, at a time when the ideal of universal health care needed all the support it could get,” Moore — whose “Bowling For Columbine” won an Academy Award — wrote in an op-ed piece for The New York Times.

On the day millions got coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the documentary filmmaker blasted the troubled law as a “pro-insurance industry plan” badly implemented by President Obama “who knew in his heart that a single-payer, Medicare-for-all model was the true way to go.”

“… Obamacare’s rocky start — clueless planning, a lousy website, insurance companies raising rates, and the president’s telling people they could keep their coverage when, in fact, not all could” was all the result of that “one fatal flaw,” he wrote.

Obama, he charged, took “Romneycare, a program designed to keep the private insurance industry intact, and just improved some of its provisions.”

He also laid into the law’s affordability, saying it’s akin to “a cruel joke” — using the example of a 60-year-old couple making $65,000 a year who’d be stuck with premiums of nearly $12,000 a year and a deductible of $12,600 a year.

“If both become seriously ill, they might have to pay almost $25,000 in a single year,” he wrote.

Moore touted Vermont’s single-payer plan, starting in 2017, saying it “will change everything, with many states sure to follow suit by setting up their own versions.”
“Obamacare can’t be fixed by its namesake,” Moore concluded. “It’s up to us to make it happen.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

Obamacare Forces End of Year Rush on Medical Procedures.


As 2013 draws to a close many patients are scrambling to complete medical procedures at facilities they will be ineligible to use in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act.

According to The Wall Street Journal, concern over anticipated higher deductibles in 2014 is also contributing to the spike in last-minute demand.

Some prestigious medical centers and specialists are not available under insurance plans offered under Obamacare, and many doctors have chosen not to take part in the system, the Journal reported Sunday.

Some 40 percent of participating physicians at Blue Shield of California, for example, have dropped out because they do not want to accept the lower rates prescribed by the new plans. UCLA‘s Ronald Reagan teaching hospital and its affiliated facilities will also be dropped under some Blue Shield of California plans, the Journal reported.

Overall, according to the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., 70 percent of plans under Obamacare will offer a comparatively narrower range of provider options than had been available.

The end of year “boomlet,” as the Journal called it, in doctor visits and procedures was noticeable around the country as scores of patients pushed up elective surgeries, preventive colonoscopies and various scans. Thomas Priselac, the chief executive of Cedars-Sinai Health System, reported “a big spike in December.”

Americans will be able to purchase plans that replicate existing coverage but often at significantly greater cost, the Journal also noted.

Some healthy people will face unwelcome surprises as they become aware of the limitations imposed by their new coverage.

“We have a lot of people who aren’t sick yet, don’t need any procedures and will have a rude awakening when they realize they don’t have access to the providers they want,” Joanne Conroy, chief health care officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges, told the Journal.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Elliot Jager

Healthcare Expert: Congress Should Subpoena White House for Obamacare Numbers.


The end-of-year statistics released by the White House do not give a clear picture of how well Obamacare is working. Congress needs to subpoena the missing data and also to request statistics from the insurance industrywrites Avik Roy, a contributor to Forbes.com and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

The released figures did not indicate whether insurers had actually received premium payments— the only certain confirmation of actual coverage, according to Roy.

Nor was it clear if a mechanism exists in the healthcare.gov system to pay insurers.

Other missing data, such as the share of healthy and young people signing up, could help clarify whether Obamacare has the potential of becoming cost effective, Roy noted.

The White House announced Sunday that 975,000 Americans had enrolled in the federal healthcare marketplace during December for a total of 1.1 million signed up in the initial enrollment phase, the Washington Post reported. 

Some 200,000 people selected health plans on Dec. 23 or 24 far- outnumbering the approximately 137,000 enrollees who registered through healthcare.gov during October and November, the Post reported.

All told, some 2 million uninsured Americans, including those who lost their existing coverage under the Affordable Care Act, have signed up via the federal HealthCare.gov site or through state marketplaces, officials said.

The figure falls short of the 3.3 million people who had been expected to register by the end of 2013, according to earlier Department of Health and Human Services projections.

By March 31, 2014 up to 7 million more enrollments are expected. After then the uninsured will face a tax penalty.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Elliot Jager

New Taxes Set to Kick In Under Obamacare.


Millions of Americans are facing hidden tax surcharges on their insurance premiums under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law as well as new health-related taxes on their income tax bills, the New York Post reports.

Some health insurance companies are not informing patients about the Obamacare taxes, instead deciding to quietly pass them on to its customers. But Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama has revealed the taxes on its bills with a separate line item for “Affordable Care Act Fees and Taxes.”

Editor’s Note: What you must know about ObamaCare fully explained in NY Times best-seller, ‘The ObamaCare Survival Guide.’

According to the report quoting Kaiser Health News, the surprise taxes on one customer’s bill was $23.14 a month, or $277.68 annually, which increased the monthly premium from $322.26 to $345.40 for that person.

The two percent tax on customers for every health plan is expected to net about $8 billion for the government in 2014 and increase to $14.3 billion in 2018.

There’s also a $2 fee per policy that goes into a new medical research trust fund called the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute.
As for insurers, they have to pay a 3.5 percent user fee to sell medical plans on the HealthCare.gov website.

The Post says Obamacare supporters may point out that federal subsidies for low-income families will cover the taxes and pay a large part of the actual premiums.

However, there’s also another Obamacare tax that people don’t know about. Americans who have to buy medical devices like pacemakers, stents and prosthetic limbs will have to fork over a 2.3 percent medical device tax.

Another hidden expense will affect Americans who have to pay out a large share of their annual income for medical costs. Currently, Americans are allowed to deduct medical expenses higher than 7.5 percent of their incomes. But that figure leaps to 10 percent under Obamacare, which will cost taxpayers $15 billion over 10 years, says the Post.

For some Americans there will also be an increase in Medicare tax. Individuals earning more than $200,000 a year and families earning more than $250,000 will have 0.9 percent surtax over the existing 1.45 percent Medicare payroll tax.

Editor’s Note: What you must know about ObamaCare fully explained in NY Times best-seller, ‘The ObamaCare Survival Guide.’

Furthermore, these high-earning Americans will also pay an extra 3.8 percent Medicare tax on unearned income, such as investment dividends, rental income and capital gains, adds the Post.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Drew MacKenzie

New Deadline Hinted for Obamacare Signup.


Image: New Deadline Hinted for Obamacare Signup

The main website for enrollment under President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law has drawn nearly 2 million visits, officials said Tuesday, in a last-minute rush to meet an ever-flexible deadline for people to obtain insurance coverage starting Jan. 1.Citing high traffic to the HealthCare.gov website and at call centers before Monday’s sign-up deadline, the government allowed people an extra day to complete their enrollment in time to be covered by New Year‘s Day.

In a blog post on the website Tuesday, the administration suggested additional flexibility without specifying a new deadline.

“Sometimes despite your best efforts, you might have run into delays caused by heavy traffic to HealthCare.gov, maintenance periods, or other issues with our systems that prevented you from finishing the process on time,” Tuesday’s blog post on HealthCare.gov said. “If this happened to you, don’t worry — we still may be able to help you get covered as soon as January 1.”

It was the administration’s latest move of the goalposts as it tries to recover from technical failures and political missteps that dogged the enrollment drive for weeks after it opened on Oct. 1.

Trying to make up for lost time, the administration has announced a series of last-minute changes and delays to get as many people as possible covered under the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s major domestic policy initiative.

Before Monday’s rush, more than 1 million people had signed up for private coverage through HealthCare.gov — which serves 36 states — and 14 state-run marketplaces, according to state and federal estimates.

The figure, though likely to climb by Christmas, is still short of previous estimates that 7 million people could enroll by the end of March, the last date to obtain health insurance coverage in 2014.

About one-third or more would need to be young, healthy adults whose payments into the system would help offset the costs of covering older, sicker people.

The problematic rollout of the healthcare law known as Obamacare, which was passed in 2010 and survived legal challenges, helped send Obama’s popularity ratings to record lows, and stepped up Republican efforts to gut the law and use it against Democrats in the 2014 congressional elections.

The more recent changes, which the administration has said are intended to show flexibility, have introduced a new element of confusion for consumers as well as health insurance companies, who have been pressed by the government to allow new members to pay, and even sign up, past Jan. 1 for retroactive coverage.

So far, the industry has agreed to extend the first payment deadline to Jan. 10.

“Health plans will continue to do everything they can to help consumers through the enrollment process and to mitigate potential confusion or disruption caused by all of these last-minute changes to the rules and deadlines,” said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade and lobbying group.

The Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to be enrolled in coverage by March 31 or face penalties that start at $95. This week’s deadline, which had already been moved to Dec. 23 from Dec. 15, applied to coverage starting on Jan. 1.

Last week, the administration said people whose plans were canceled because they did not meet new standards of coverage under the law would qualify for a “hardship” exemption that allows some people to avoid a penalty for not signing up for health insurance.

Several state-run exchanges have also moved their enrollment deadlines. New York and California, two of the largest, added a one-day grace period similar to that of the federal insurance marketplace.

Massachusetts said on Tuesday that it would allow sign-ups until Dec. 31, given heavy volume and technical problems that have hampered its exchange. Rhode Island, Oregon and Maryland had already extended their deadlines beyond Christmas.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Obamacare Tweaked Yet Again: Sign-up Extended to Christmas Eve.


Americans are being given an extra day to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, with the Obama administration quietly extending the deadline to 11:59 p.m. on Christmas EveThe Washington Post reports.

Government officials and outside IT contractors working on the online marketplace’s computer system made a software change” that automatically gives people the extra day, sources told the newspaper.

The rule change is the latest of the many tweaks that have been made to the healthcare law, which has been plagued by numerous issues, from a botched website launch to the reality that many will have to drop their doctors, despite the president’s promise.

The latest tweak comes weeks after administration officials announced that the website’s glitches had mostly been fixed.

The Post said the unannounced extension is “intended as a buffer in case the website has trouble if a last-minute surge of insurance-seekers proved more than the computer system could handle.”

Sources told the newspaper that the one-day extension is automatic and cannot be overridden by insurers who might object.

Officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency overseeing the health exchange, had no immediate comment.

One insurance industry official told The Post: “Making yet another last-minute change to the rules by shortening an already-tight time period in which to process enrollments makes it even harder to ensure people who have selected a plan are able to have their coverage begin in January.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Newsmax Wires

Latest Obamacare Fixes Unnerve Insurance Industry on Deadline Day.


The health insurance industry is uneasy over the Obama administration’s announcement Thursday that individuals who lost existing coverage under the Affordable Care Act will not be obligated to purchase coverage by Monday.
Insurers were counting on these customers for their bottom line, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announcement said: “If you have been notified that your individual market policy will not be renewed, you will be eligible for a hardship exemption and will be able to enroll in [bare-bones] catastrophic coverage.”
Monday, Dec. 23, is the last day to sign up through the Healthcare.Gov and state health exchanges for insurance coverage beginning Jan. 1. For the coverage to take effect, policyholders must pay their first premium directly to the insurer by Jan. 10, USA Today reported.
Consumers will have until March 31 to purchase coverage for 2014 without having to pay a penalty.
The insurance industry’s chief Washington lobbyist, Karen Ignagni, is concerned that exempting people from having to be in the exchanges is an erosion of the “individual mandate” requiring Americans to have health insurance.
Thursday’s HHS announcement “was of particular concern because we were worried about the message with respect to individuals having a path around the mandate; that was the first time that the administration had said anything like that,” Ignagni told the Journal.
The industry had opposed the Affordable Care Act when it was first proposed. After it became law in 2010, Ignagni said insurers “mobilized our best people . . . to provide thoughtful advice.”
Nearly 750,000 people had visited the federal HealthCare.gov site over the weekend through Sunday afternoon.
Ignagni’s task is to save the mandate and make Obamacare profitable for insurers, the Journal reported.
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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Elliot Jager

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