President Trump told Republican leaders last week that he supports two bills to stabilize the Affordable Care Act and the insurance markets. He’ll exchange that support for the repeal of the individual mandate which is included in the Senate’s tax reform bill but not in the bill passed by the House.
One bill is the compromised crafted by Washington Democrat Sen. Patty Murray and Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican. It provides cost sharing reduction (CSR) checks to health insurers to keep them in the insurance exchanges to help those needing subsidies afford insurance.
The second bill will send more money to the states to help them set up programs to provide insurance companies with funds to help those who cannot afford to purchase insurance.
Trump’s statement got support from key Republicans South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and from others in the party.
Democrats aren’t — predictably — so thrilled. They note that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said doing away with the individual mandate will cause premiums to jump 10% and will take away the ability to buy insurance for 13 million more people. And many — like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — do not support the Alexander-Murray compromise.
“You can't sabotage the entire system and then say you're going to do a small little fix on top of that sabotage. Murray-Alexander was never designed to be in a situation where there was a direct bomb thrown into the ACA. Murray Alexander is great but first our Republican colleagues should abandon the idea of sabotaging the ACA,” Schumer said.
Speaking of health insurance costs. With rising premiums and higher deductibles you’d think more of us would shop insurance. Apparently, we don’t. A study published by the JAMA Internal Medicine and done by a team from the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation says even with the rise in high-deductible health plans (HDHP) people don’t look for better prices, or talk with doctors about the high cost of their health care or make any kind of move to save themselves money.
Dr. Jeffrey Kullgren is an assistant professor of general medicine at the university. He is a co-author of the study and said, “Most Americans in HDHPs are not doing things that can help them get the care they need at the lowest possible cost, and even those who are doing so could realize more benefits.
An HDHP is defined as individuals who pay the first $1,300 of their own health care costs and for families it’s $2,600.
He and his colleagues checked in with 1,637 adults under age 65 who have HDHPs — and that’s over 40% of us — and tried to find out why they don’t shop.
Here’s what they found:
• 58% have an account like a health savings account (HSA) available
• Just 40% actually save money in them
• Just 25% talk with a health care provider about the cost of any medical service
• Only 14% compare prices for the same care or service
• Just 6% negotiate the price of a health care service in advance or after they’ve received a bill
The poll also asked people what they did as consumers to lower costs:
• 248 of the 1,637 compared prices
• 61% of the 248 said they compare prices for drugs
• Just 38% for outpatient care
• Only 45% say comparing prices helped them pay less for a service
• Of the 204 people comparing quality ratings, 71% did it for an outpatient visit
• Among the 445 who talked to a provider about cost, 66% talked about prescription prices
• Just 45% of the 61% said it helped them get the care they needed
• Of the 685 who saved money on medical care, just half said this practice helped them get the care they needed in the last year
The researchers suggest that medical facilities could make prices available at the point of care so people can talk about cost. Employers offering HDHPs could also offer more pricing information to help employees with decision-making.
Source links: The Hill, Insurance Journal