Shopping Around . . .

Quite a few blogging PPACA naysayers are out there advertising the 25 to 50% increases in premiums for healthcare plans under the PPACA. Charles Gaba@ACA Signups blog points out it is just an opportunity to “shop around” and the premium increases may not be big anyway in dollars and cents. “Looking past the scary headlines” as Richard Mayhew of Balloon Juice suggests in Pennsylvania could make a huge difference in what the buyer pays in premiums. Many of the insurers are advertising lower rates while the news media and some bloggers are hanging their hats on a few errant insurance companies. Those asking for higher rates exceeding 10% up to 58% are now asking for decreases.

Competition matters as two of the insurers as UPMC has the lowest rate for a 40 year smoker in comparison to Highmark. UPMC lowest priced plans will increase by < 10% as Highmark's sets a new high with a 25% increase. The coverage being similar as detailed by the PPACA, it is hard to justify a huge increase when compared to a competitor. Take a few moments and visit Chales Gaba's blog and read. Charles Gaba cites the good, bad, and ugly on what is going on in state healthcare exchange insurance plans. It is important to shop around as it pays off in the long run. Charles does post some of the state exchange costs for the plans. Here are some state results: Pennsylvania: Another example of how misleading the Scary Rate Increase headlines can be “Over at ‘Balloon Juice,’ Richard Mayhew has posted a great piece illustrating, once again, the importance of looking past the scary headlines to find out 1) what the true picture is (ie, taking all of the rate changes into account–not just the biggest ones–and weighting them by proportionate market share), and 2) what’s going on with your situation, not someone else’s.”

Colorado: (requested) semi-weighted avg. rate increase: 13.1%

Connecticut: OK, strike that: 2016 requested rates revised downward AGAIN to 5.2% weighted avg.

District of Columbia: 2016 Rate Requests: 5.3% individual, 2.6% small group (with major caveats).

Hawaii: Weighted Avg. 2016 Rate Request: 33.7% (ouch), plus a Mystery Solved . . .

Kentucky: “Anyway, assuming that I have the partial data above accurate, it looks like Kentucky’s individual market changes will range from an 11% decrease (for Well Care Health Plans of Kentucky, Inc.) to a wince-inducing 25% increase (for the Kentucky Health CO-OP). I don’t know how many are enrolled in Well Care right now, but the CO-OP has 53,000 customers, so expect some shuffling around . . . except, again, I have no idea what that’s a 25.1% increase from.

For all I know, the CO-OP may be charging $200/month for the same type of plan that WellCare is charging $400/month for…which would mean that a 25% hike for the CO-OP would only bring it up to $250, while an 11% cut for WellCare would only bring it down to $356.”

Maine: 2016 Rate Request: 0.7% weighted average increase

Maryland: UNWEIGHTED 2016 rate requests: 9.3% (WEIGHTED more likely 22.5%)

Michigan: Weighted 2016 rate increase requests appear to be 9.8%
Oregon: Final 2016 Rate Hikes approved…24.2% weighted average increase, but . . .

“The silver lining here (pun intended) is that, as noted in the Oregonian article, even with these hikes, the rates are still pretty much in line with other states, and shopping around could result in a decrease for some people. For instance, using the 40-year old Portland example above, someone enrolled in a Silver plan via Pacific Source (currently paying $284/month this year and looking at a 37% hike to $389/month) could switch to a Kaiser plan and only pay $271/month…a decrease of 4.5%, or $13/month!”

Rhode Island: 2016 Rate Requests 7.9% (weighted average)

Vermont: 2016 rate requests: 7.8% individual, 8.1% small group

Washington State: Case study in why HC. gov’s Rate Review tool CANNOT BE USED to figure statewide rate increase averages!

“When you look at the overall average increase when weighted by relative market share for each company, it’s either 5.4% if the data provided by the state insurance commissioner has already been weighted, or 6.1% if it hasn’t. What it looks like at https://ratereview.healthcare.gov when you run a search for 2016 Individual Market products in Washington State. Yes, that’s right: It appears to be an “average” 18.44% rate increase request…over 3x the actual average.”

California: 2016 Rate Hikes: As if millions of ACA opponents suddenly cried out in terror . . .

“Average Increase Is 4 Percent; Consumers Who Shop Can Lower Their Premium by an Average of 4.5 Percent. SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California announced its rates for 2016 and unveiled which health insurance companies will be offering plans through the marketplace. The statewide weighted average increase will be 4 percent, which is lower than last year’s increase of 4.2 percent and represents a dramatic change from the trends that individuals faced in the years before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

Some bloggers have claimed there is no decrease in healthcare costs as brought on by the PPACA. If you have not noticed Medicare has again extended the solvency or the funding of its funding by 13 years or till 2030. Medicare is the game in town and few doctors, clinics, or hospitals are ignoring it as a customer. Now if the president would only allow it to negotiate. Ask Congress why not . . .

ACA extends Medicare funding by 13 years; CMS releases Medicare enrollment report by state.

– “First, that “indirect impact” I just mentioned has resulted in the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, previously expected to run out of money just 2 years from now, now being expected to be solvent through 2030 thanks to the ACA bending the cost curve.” This is due to slow growth which has extended well beyong the Wall Sreet and TBTF lunacy.

– “The second Medicare-specific tidbit is the nifty report released just today by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, breaking out current Medicare enrollment not just by state, but by program. As you can see, total Medicare enrollment nationally is just a hair over 55 million as of May 2015.” The growth in Medicare certainly makes it a factor in the healthcare sector to be dealt with and which to be paid attention. Medicare does discount payments to doctors, clinics, and hospitals at a far greater rate than insurance companies and with greater efficiency.

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