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Issue: "Quality/Access"

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar: New Privacy Concerns Over Obamacare Web Site

Real Clear Politics
Wed, 2015-01-21
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A little-known side to the government's health insurance website is prompting renewed concerns about privacy, just as the White House is calling for stronger cybersecurity protections for consumers. It works like this: When you apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, dozens of data companies may be able to tell that you are on the site. Some can even glean details such as your age, income, ZIP code, whether you smoke or if you are pregnant. The data firms have embedded connections on the government site. Ever-evolving technology allows for individual Internet users to be tracked, building profiles that are a vital tool for advertisers. Connections to multiple third-party tech firms were documented by technology experts who analyzed HealthCare.gov, and confirmed by The Associated Press.

H&R Block: ‘No One Can Understand’ New Obamacare Tax Code

The Daily Caller
Wed, 2015-01-21
Posted By Richard Pollock H&R Block, the nation’s largest retail tax preparation company warns that the newly released Obamacare tax code, officially called the Affordable Care Act, is likely to confuse millions of taxpayers who try to tackle their tax returns for 2014. “Now that the Affordable Care Act has made health care a tax issue, no one can understand it,” H&R Block flatly tells taxpayers in a video that resides on its dedicated Obamacare web site. A former IRS Commissioner agrees, and cautions that the new tax requirements will be a “shock to the system,” especially afflicting low-income earners who have never itemized on their tax return. The tax preparation giant — with 24 million tax clients worldwide — reports that the Obamacare tax rules now constitute “the biggest tax code change in the last 20 years.” The company is so concerned, it has launched a high profile national television advertising campaign directed solely at Obamacare enrollees.

What '60 Minutes' Didn't Tell You: Hospitals Will Charge You More Under Obamacare

Forbes
Mon, 2015-01-12
On Sunday evening, CBS’ 60 Minutes did a feature story on Steven Brill’s new book, America’s Bitter Pill, in which Brill complains that Obamacare didn’t do enough to tackle the exorbitantly high price of U.S. hospital care. “Obamacare does zero to change any of that,” says Brill. That’s not exactly right. What Brill—and CBS—don’t tell you—is that Obamacare is driving hospitals to charge you more than they already do. The U.S. hospital industry is crony capitalism at its finest Steven Brill, founder of The American Lawyer and Court TV took a starring role in the health care debate when he published the Time article “Bitter Pill,” describing how hospitals charge extreme prices for ordinary care to the uninsured. For example, Sean Recchi, an uninsured lymphoma patient, went to MD Anderson Cancer Center, a world-renowned facility in Houston, to seek treatment. MD Anderson proceeded to charge him $283 for a $20 chest X-ray.

Eligible Americans Turn Down Obamacare Tax Credits

US News
Mon, 2015-01-12
By Kimberly Leonard Grace Brewer says she never thought she would be without health insurance at this stage of her life. "I'm a casualty of Obamacare," says Brewer, 60, a self-employed chiropractor in the Kansas City, Kansas, area. She wanted to keep the catastrophic health insurance plan she once had, which she says fit her needs. But under the Affordable Care Act, the government's health care reform law, the plan was discontinued because it did not comply with the law's requirements, and her bills doubled to more than $400 a month. "I wanted a minimal plan and I’m not allowed to have it," she says. "That seems like an encroachment on my freedom." The Affordable Care Act requires everyone to buy insurance or pay a penalty. Government subsidies can reduce costs for low- and middle-income Americans and without them, many say they could not afford insurance.

What Safer Cars Tell Us About Obamacare

Forbes
Wed, 2015-01-07
”Safer Cars Lead to Drop in Fatalities” trumpets a recent Wall Street Journal headline. Not to be a curmudgeon, but whether this is good news or bad news depends on what it cost to achieve this reduction in mortality. No one disputes that saving lives is a very good thing, but even the richest nation in the world lacks infinite resources. We will never lack opportunities to save lives. But since there are more and less cost-effective ways of achieving this objective, we are best served by policies that move us in the direction of saving lives at the least cost.

Is Obamacare Squeezing The Middle Class?

Forbes
Tue, 2015-01-06
Here is something few pundits predicted. Poor, long-uninsured patients are getting Medicaid through Obamacare and finally going to the doctor’s office for care. But middle-class patients are increasingly staying away. Take Praveen Arla, who helps his father run a family practice in Hillview, Kentucky. The Arlas’ patient load used to be 45% commercially insured and 25% Medicaid. Those percentages are now reversed, report Laura Ungar and Jayne O’Donnell in USA Today. What’s the difference? Medicaid patients generally face no deductible or copayment when they seek care. But people who get health insurance at work or buy it in the (Obamacare) exchanges can face high out-of-pocket costs. Nationwide, the size of the average deductible more than doubled in eight years, from $584 to $1,217 for individual coverage according to the Kaiser Foundation. Deductibles of $1,000 and up are now the workplace norm.

Health care customers will have more time to pay premiums

Fox News
Thu, 2014-12-18
WASHINGTON – Trying to head off a new round of consumer headaches with President Obama's health care law, the insurance industry says it will give customers more time to pay their premiums for January. America's Health Insurance Plans, the main industry trade group, says the voluntary steps include a commitment to promptly refund any overpayments by consumers who switched plans and may have gotten double-billed by mistake. Though the HealthCare.gov website is working far better this year, the industry announcement highlights behind-the-scenes technical issues between the government and insurers that have proven difficult to resolve. Last year's enrollment files were riddled with errors, and fixing those has been a painstaking process.

Gruber Model Errs in Colorado as Vermont Prepares to Rely on Data

Vermont Watchdog
Tue, 2014-12-16
By Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog Jonathan Gruber’s health care forecasting is failing in Colorado as Vermont’s Gov. Peter Shumlin prepares to use the economist’s math for single-payer health care. As Vermonters anxiously await a Gruber-modeled financing plan for Green Mountain Care, modeling done for Colorado’s health exchange by Jonathan Gruber Associates has proven wildly erroneous. In 2011, following Colorado’s decision to set up a state health exchange for Obamacare, the state hired Gruber to forecast enrollment trends from which the state and federal government could estimate costs. According to a presentation delivered to the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Board on Sept.

ObamaCare’s Threat to Private Practice

The Wall Street Journal
Mon, 2014-12-08
By Scott Gottlieb Dec. 7, 2014 5:12 p.m. ET Here’s a dirty little secret about recent attempts to fix ObamaCare. The “reforms,” approved by Senate and House leaders this summer and set to advance in the next Congress, adopt many of the Medicare payment reforms already in the Affordable Care Act. Both favor the consolidation of previously independent doctors into salaried roles inside larger institutions, usually tied to a central hospital, in effect ending independent medical practices. Republicans must embrace a different vision to this forced reorganization of how medicine is practiced in America if they want to offer an alternative to ObamaCare. The law’s defenders view this consolidation as a necessary step to enable payment provisions that shift the financial risk of delivering medical care onto providers and away from government programs like Medicare.

Exploring the shortcomings and fault lines of the Affordable Care Act

Physicians for a National Health Program
Mon, 2014-12-08
The case for single payer – Medicare for All By Jeoffry B. Gordon, M.D., M.P.H. December 3, 2014 The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has as its main and overriding purpose the expansion and subsidization of health insurance coverage for many (usually poor and uninsured) Americans who were previously unable to reliably access medical services. Under its auspices, the federal law has provided for health insurance enrollment for 1 million to 3 million additional 19- to 26-year-olds; 6 million new, expanded Medicaid enrollees; and 7.2 million commercial Qualified Health Plan enrollees. Of the latter, about 80 percent qualify for financial subsidy. Taking into account additional factors, e.g. the fact that some of the new enrollees were previously insured, there has been a net gain of about 10 million people who have coverage. Yet even at full expansion, it is estimated that the ACA will not insure another 30 million U.S.

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