By now you know the drill. The White House announces it’s delaying part of Obamacare, Republicans freak out and say it proves the entire law is a failure, but in the end the change really doesn’t make all that much difference either way. The latest example: on Wednesday, the Obama administration said it will let consumers renew health policies that don’t comply with the new law for another two years. It’s a decision that’s important politically, but has little impact on how the law will actually work. [click to continue reading...]
With over four million people now enrolled in private coverage through the Obamacare marketplaces, not everybody is going to be happy with the first plan they chose. So can you switch to a different plan or insurer if you’ve already enrolled through your state’s online marketplace? The answer– like most things under the new law– is complicated. [click to continue reading...]
Thanks to the Supreme Court decision making the Medicaid expansion optional for states, the federal poverty line (FPL) has become enormously important. Before the decision, the FPL simply determined what kind of coverage you were eligible for: Medicaid for those below, and subsidized private coverage for those above (with some overlap– people making between 100% and 133% of the FPL could get Medicaid or private coverage). But now, in states that have chosen to opt out of the Medicaid expansion, the poverty line will mean the difference between subsidized private coverage and no coverage at all.
So it’s important to know what exactly the income cut off is, particularly if your income is right around that line. However, we’ve heard that some people who have called the healthcare.gov hotline for clarification have been told two different numbers: $11,490 and $11,670 for single people. But here’s the really confusing part: they’re both accurate. [click to continue reading...]
For months now we’ve only been covering Obamacare, but turns out that’s not the only thing happening in the world of healthcare. In fact, while we’ve all been focused on the new marketplaces, members of both parties have been working together(!) on a permanent solution(!!) to a problem Congress has been avoiding for over a decade: a seriously flawed Medicare payment formula that– if it ever took effect– would mean such a large pay cut it could drive doctors out of the program (if not out of business altogether).
Don’t celebrate just yet though, because they still haven’t figured out the hardest part: how to pay for it. They have options– the Congressional Budget Office has released a list of health-related ways Congress could reduce the deficit– and there was one that jumped out at us. The cost of repealing the flawed formula is almost exactly the same amount that a public option for Obamacare would save. [click to continue reading...]
In our last post we complained that the healthcare debate is starting to remind us of the movie Groundhog Day, but we forgot… there has been one new development! Republicans have long promised to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, but for they’ve focused almost exclusively on “repeal,” while mostly ignoring the “replace” part. Now finally, three Republican Senators–Tom Coburn, Richard Burr, and Orrin Hatch– have unveiled an actual alternative, which they call the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment Act (Patient CARE Act).
We almost skipped talking about it because (1) it has no chance of passing (we’re not sure who would be quicker to vote against it- Democrats or tea party Republicans), and (2) it’s not very good. Still, given all the complaining Republicans have done about Obamacare, it’s worth checking out what they suggest. [click to continue reading...]
You know the movie Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray relives the same day over and over again? Something similar is happening with the Obamacare debate.
For example, last week Republicans were claiming that a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office proved that Obamacare is a job killer, when what it actually said is that some people will choose to work less. Funny, that reminded us of a post we wrote two years ago (on Groundhog Day actually) about how Republicans were… claiming that a recent report from the CBO proved that Obamacare is a job killer, when what it actually said is that some people will choose to work less.
And now this: over the summer the Obama administration announced it was delaying the employer mandate– the requirement that businesses with more than 50 full-time employes have to provide health coverage or pay a penalty– through the end of 2014. At the time, Republicans responded with outrage, claiming that the President overstepped his authority, and asked why he was was delaying the mandate for businesses but not for individuals. Well, yesterday the Obama administration announced it was delaying the employer mandate for another year, and Republicans responded with… you can probably guess. [click to continue reading...]
CBO director Doug Elmendorf testifies before the House Budget Committee
While most coverage of the recent Congressional Budget Office report has focused on Obamacare’s effect on jobs, it’s not the most interesting thing in there. As we pointed out yesterday, all the report really says is that some people will choose to work fewer hours, mostly because (1) now they don’t have to stay in full-time jobs just to get health coverage, and (2) since your subsidy for coverage decreases as your income increases, extra hours of work are worth a little less.
By the way, this isn’t the first time the CBO said that people would choose to work fewer hours under Obamacare. Heck, it isn’t even the first time these figures have been misinterpreted. Back in early 2011, Republicans claimed that an earlier CBO report (which said that Obamacare would reduce hours worked by 0.5%– they upped that figure to about 1.5% in the latest version) said Obamacare would “kill” 650,000 jobs. In our coverage at the time, we cited an Associated Press fact check, which found:
What the CBO actually said is that the impact of the health care law on supply and demand for labor would be small. Most of it would come from people who no longer have to work, or can downshift to less demanding employment, because insurance will be available outside the job. [...]
The law “reduces the amount of labor supplied, but it’s not reducing the ability of people to find jobs, which is what the job-killing slogan is intended to convey,” said economist Paul Van de Water of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Two things in this latest report are noteworthy though. For starters, we finally have the CBO’s estimate of how the technical issues that plagued the launch of healthcare.gov will affect enrollment. And second, the report further demolishes the Republicans’ argument that Obamacare’s risk corridor provision is a “bailout” of insurance companies. [click to continue reading...]
Welcome to the latest installment of our “No, Obamacare actually doesn’t do the thing people are freaking about” series. Yesterday the Congressional Budget Office released a report with its updated projections for the economy and federal budget over the next decade. They took a closer look at Obamacare’s effect on employment, and found that the new law will reduce the total number of hours worked by 1.5 to 2%, representing a decline of about 2 to 2.5 million full-time-equivalent workers by 2024.
And then people went nuts. A bunch of reputable news sites ran headlines blaring that the “CBO report says Obamacare will result in 2 million fewer jobs,” which is, well, totally wrong. Here’s what the CBO report actually says:
“The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in business’ demand for labor.”
In other words, Obamacare isn’t causing employers to eliminate jobs– some people will just choose to work less. [click to continue reading...]
President Obama gave his fifth State of the Union address on Tuesday, and like last year, healthcare wasn’t a major focus, but he did manage to pack a lot of info into a few minutes. So once again it’s time for our annual State of the Union healthcare fact check and analysis! Also, this year we’re taking a look at what the official Republican response had to say about healthcare too. Let’s get right to it! [click to continue reading...]
Now that people are starting to use their Obamacare coverage, some people have noticed that they can no longer go to the same doctor. For example, on Tuesday, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a longtime opponent of Obamacare who’s undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, mentioned to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that his oncologist isn’t covered by his new Obamacare plan.
Plenty of criticisms from Obamacare opponents have turned out to be wrong or intentionally misleading (i.e., “death panels” or the supposed insurer “bailout”), but this one isn’t just Republican hype– some people who switch to Obamacare plans really will have to switch doctors. Partly this is just how all health insurance works– every plan has its own set of providers, and there’s no guarantee your old doctor will be covered by a new plan. But it’s also partly because plans sold on the Obamacare marketplaces tend to have smaller provider networks.
While it’s obviously frustrating to have to switch doctors, there is a tradeoff: these smaller networks mean lower premiums and (somewhat counterintuitively) could lead to better quality care. [click to continue reading...]