When Obamacare crossed its projected 7 million enrollment mark and attained the shining figure of 8 million enrollments, the administration was not aware of a storm these enrollments would kick up in the near future. As soon as these enrollees started utilizing their health insurance, they were faced with a harsh reality – their health plan did not have their preferred doctors, hospitals or the right combination of both. The new enrollees were at a loss, and ultimately had to pay out of pocket for services and providers that were not covered by their plan.
There’s a lot in the pipeline for small businesses – SHOP exchange, collective buying power to purchase better health insurance and a chance to provide the same level of benefits as their large counterparts. However not many have weighed in on an aspect that might become a primary concern for small organizations in the near future – increasing healthcare costs. Amid the intricacies of the ACA, the increasing cost of providing better coverage has been in the crosshairs for a long time. Sadly, the same increase in costs for small employers is coming into play, and not all small firms are ready to play along.
The healthcare sector has taken the mantle of a rescuer over the last few years, when unemployment reared its ugly head. Healthcare sector has been one of the bright spots, adding jobs to the economy when other sectors, such as construction and manufacturing, were forced to lay off workers while struggling to make ends meet in a harsh economy. Unfortunately, the rules of the game have changed, and healthcare has suddenly lost its potency in job growth. Over the last year, health care sector has been lagging behind with only 1.4 percent annual hiring rate in 2014, and Affordable Care Act could be the key reason behind this lag.
Medicaid has long been a hot discussion point for Democrats and Republicans, and Medicaid Expansion is a new avenue where the sides are locking horns across all states. The case in point being the support given to Obamacare’s effects through the Medicaid expansion, which will work as a strategy to cover those up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line under the safety net of Medicaid. The expansion would specifically target people that are not being covered under PPACA’s laws and provide quality health and care to the underprivileged. However, the administration has not been able to reach an agreement with all the states on the aspect of Medicaid expansion, and 17 states have chosen not to expand Medicaid for supporting ACA.
Wide health insurance coverage does not always translate into better healthcare facilities– this debate has long been at the helm of various health reforms. Various administrations have taken the incorrect approach to equating health insurance with improved healthcare service, and the Affordable Care Act seems to be on a path to the same debilitating mistake. After the closure of first enrollment period, Obamacare has caused an increase in the workload of nurses in hospitals across the country. This increase in burden is making nurses compromise on the quality of healthcare for patients, especially those that have recently got health insurance under Obamacare.
Better collective American healthcare system through health reform – that was the primary aim when Obama administration set out to design PPACA. Seen as a way to improve overall health of the nation through improved healthcare, Obamacare is now getting a major confirmation from a Harvard study. The study states that Obamacare could save substantial lives in the coming years. Let’s take a closer look at the study, and what it means to say when it talks about saving lives.
Emergency Room visits, seen as a one stop shop for all medical needs by many, has been on Obamacare’s radar for a long time. When strategy for Obamacare was being crafted, a key necessity was to reduce the number of visits to the Emergency Room by providing better care to people through widespread health insurance coverage. Unfortunately, after Obamacare health insurance coverage kicking in, data shows that emergency room visits are increasing drastically.
The celebration is nearly over and the administration has basked long enough in the glory of hitting 8 million enrollments, a million more than the target they set. The numbers are impressive, but so is the challenge ahead for the administration – ensuring that this next phase of ACA implementation goes as smoothly as possible. The performance of the administration in this phase is going to have a huge effect on the outreach and enrollment efforts for the upcoming open enrollment period.
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In the first part of our series, we have covered how enrollment statistics can be broken to determine the current action points for the government. In this second part, we are going to cover the trends that will take root after the closure of the next enrollment period, just in the beginning of 2015. Let’s take a look.
1) Will there be rate increases in 2015 – The rate mechanics are still not very clear, mainly because of different exchanges in picture and the collective impact on federal and state exchanges through rate increases, if any. However, one thing is certain that after seeing rates across the industry, there will be some market consolidation. Those players which priced their offerings too high are going to cut down the costs to meet the market median, while those that priced their products too low will increase their costs and match the market standards. Naturally, when most players get into this game, increases or decreases are inevitable. Even if a rate increase comes into play, it should not be more than 10 percent. Since not much actionable data would be available by the time the rate revision cycle kicks in May 2015, the claim data would not have a drastic impact on the rate increase. Another reason that hints that rate increases should not be more than 10 percent is the fact that any increase over that calls for a federal review, and with lack of usable claim data to defend their move, health plans would not be aligned toward increasing rates beyond the 10 percent threshold.
Now that the first enrollment period is long closed and health exchanges have done their part in enrolling more than the set target, Obamacare is cruising fairly smoothly, with minor anomalies here and there. As we draw close to the next open enrollment period beginning in mid-November, let’s take a look at the major happenings post the 8 million enrollment feat, and what does ACA have in store for Americans in the near future. In the first part of this series, we are going to cover the major developments; figures and trends that have come up post enrollment closure. The second part is going to delve into the trends that will take hold in 2015.