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Are We Now in the Eye of the Storm

September 25, 2014

Article published in Duncan Banner September 24, 2014.

Are We Now in the Eye of the Storm?
To understand the benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we need to follow the expansion of health care insurance plans that have been purchased in the last quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014.
The Center for Budget and Policies Priorities reported on four national independent surveys examining the impact of heath coverage in 2014.
“1. April 2014 results from RAND’s Health Reform Opinion Study show that the share of adults aged 18- Are We Now in the Eye of the Storm?
To understand the benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we need to follow the expansion of health care insurance plans that have been purchased in the last quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014.
The Center for Budget and Policies Priorities reported on four national independent surveys examining the impact of heath coverage in 2014.
“1. April 2014 results from RAND’s Health Reform Opinion Study show that the share of adults aged 18-64 without insurance fell from 20.5 Percent to 15.8 Percent between September 2013 and March 2014. The number of uninsured adults aged 18-64 fell from 40.7 Million to 31.4 Million, a decline of 9.3 Million.
2. Data from the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey show that the uninsured rate among adults aged 18-64 fell from 17.9 Percent to 13.9 Percent between the third quarter of 2013 and the second quarter of 2014. (That would translate into a decline in the number of uninsured non-elderly adults of 8 Million, based on Census population estimates.) The decline was particularly large in states that adopted Medicaid Expansion. The uninsured rate for this group of states fell from 16.2 Percent to 10.1 Percent, as compared to a decline from 20.0 Percent to 18.3 Percent in Non-expansion states.
3. Poll results from Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index show that the share of adults (including those aged 65 and above) without health insurance coverage fell from 18.0 Percent to 13.4 Percent, the most since tracking started in 2008.
4. The Commonwealth Fund’s Affordable Care Act Tracking Survey shows that the share of adults aged 19-64 without health coverage fell from 20 Percent in July-September 2013 to 15 Percent in April-July 2014. This added coverage includes 6.7 Million young adults aged 19-34. The survey showed that new enrollees are using their coverage with a visit to a doctor or filling a prescription.”
For the moment, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been “put back on the shelf” by conservative candidates who will be on voters’ ballots in just over a month. Another attack on ACA is still on their “to-do” list. Even now, plans are being formulated for a “hybrid” plan which does not assure controls on an increase in premium costs, nor availability to health insurance for those individuals working limited hours per week for minimum wages.
Avik Roy (a writer at Forbes), the conservative think-tank group Manhattan Institute, and a health care advisor for former presidential candidate Mitt Romney have developed a plan they hope to promote that has no quality assurance as does the current Affordable Care Act.
As reported by Michael Hitzik, Los Angeles Times, the basis for their plan closely follows the Affordable Care Act, EXCEPT:
(A) The new exchange plans would have a broader range of premiums based on age, changing the Affordable Care Act’s 3-to-1 limit to as much as 6-to-1, causing an increase in premium rates for older people; and
(B) The “actuarial value” of ACA’s plans range from 60% for the bronze tier, to 90% for the gold tier (percentages of average health care costs covered). Their plan would reduce those percentages to 40% to 85%. For example, a new percentage of coverage on the silver (second) tier would be set at 55% with an annual deductible of $7,000.00 for individuals and $14,000.00 for families. (California has set up its State Healthcare Marketplace following ACA guidelines. At the silver tier, an annual deductible is $2,000.00 per individual and $4,000.00 for families.)
Although Mr. Roy’s plan still calls for subsidies for lower income, it lowers the qualifying threshold from 400 Percent below the poverty level to 317 Percent, resulting in fewer people obtaining health insurance.
No matter how they phrase it, the Ultra Conservatives have yet to come up with a comprehensive and affordable plan to insure that all Americans have ready access to preventative as well as catastrophic illness care.

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