Monday, September 5, 2016
Health Care Premium Spikes and the Political Home Stretch
As we enter the home stretch, Hillary Clinton leads by 4% in average of polls, and the odd makers give her a 75% chance of winning.
One unknown factor is the effect of predicted average spikes of 24% in health care premiums, which vary widely from state to state. This effect may determine the outcome of Senate races in 8 key states in which Democrats and Republicans are favored in 4 states each. Democrats need to win in 5 states to seize control of the Senate. The final premium increases will be announced in the week before the election.
ObamaCare in Trouble
ObamaCare is widely perceived to be deep trouble, with major insurers withdrawing from the majority of states, and consumers left with narrowing choices or no choices at all of physicians, hospitals, and health plans. Enrollments are expected to drop to about half of what the Obama administration hoped for, and critics say ObamaCare may be in a death spiral because not enough of the young and healthy are signing up to sustain a viable insurance market.
Simple Choice Plans to the Rescue
The Obama administration is trying to save ObamaCare health exchange markets through marketing its benefits and offering “Simple Choice Plans” in 2017. The idea behind in these “Simple Choice Plans” is to simplify health exchange choices by standardizing certain options for its bronze, silver, and gold plans.
In a “Simple Choice” silver plan, for example, the deductible will be limited to $3500 and the out-of-pocket costs cannot exceed $7100. For specific services, the amounts charged before the deductible kicks in will be $30 for a primary care visit, $65 for a specialty visit, $75 for an urgent care visit, and a generic drug prescription.
Not So Simple
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But, according to Sabrina Corlette, a professor in health care policy at Georgetown University, it isn’t. Consumers will still need to differentiate between plans, presumably through healthcare.gov, to weed through the options.
Ending the Uncertainties
To end to the uncertainties, Hillary Clinton, if elected, says she will introduce a Public Option, which, effect, would give government control of insurance options. Meanwhile, trend-setting California has just announced a study indicating government already pays for 70% of all health care costs in that state. Can single-payer be far behind?