Viewpoints: Calif., Oregon exchanges curb premiums with limited networks; Why the U.S. pays so much for health care

Published on June 5, 2013 at 5:56 AM · No Comments

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare Is Raising Insurance Costs
A closer examination of these health plans (to be offered on the California and Oregon exchanges) reveals a less rosy picture. Although the premiums are lower than some anticipated, this has been achieved by designing the plans around much more limited provider networks and including greater cost-sharing than the typical commercial health-insurance plan. The premiums for the policies that will be offered on the states' exchanges are much higher than analogous plans being sold today (Daniel P. Kessler, 6/3).

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare Bait And Switch
Liberals have spent years claiming that "rate shock" under the Affordable Care Act-;the 20% to 30% average spike in insurance premiums that every independent analyst projects-;is merely the political imagination of Republicans and the insurance industry. So they immediately claimed victory when California reported last month that the plans that will be available on the state's new insurance exchange next year would be cheaper than they are today. Except now it emerges that California goosed the data to make it appear as if ObamaCare won't send costs aloft as the law's regulations and mandates kick in (6/3).

The Washington Post: Godspeed To Obamacare's Cadillac Tax
Last seen predicting a "landslide" win for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, political "analyst" Dick Morris has resurfaced as a radio pitchman for the paperback "ObamaCare Survival Guide" (only $4.95 plus shipping and handling). His spiel dwells on the health law's "hidden taxes," including "a 40 percent tax on some health plans." What Morris seemingly has in mind is Obamacare's "Cadillac Tax" -; which is neither hidden nor, as he implies, levied on the entire value of plans. It is an excise tax on gold-plated -; or "Cadillac" -; coverage that the current tax code wastefully encourages (Charles Lane, 6/3).

Bloomberg: The Real Reason We Pay So Much For Health Care
A lengthy New York Times report yesterday detailed just how much more Americans pay for medical services than people in other countries. Often a lot more: almost twice what the Swiss pay for a colonoscopy, three and a half times more than the Dutch for an MRI and five times more than Spaniards for a hip replacement, according to the International Federation of Health Plans. ... How could policymakers do a better job of bringing down per-unit costs? This country is about as likely to adopt a single-payer health care system as it is to adopt the blind mole rat as its national symbol, but that doesn't change the fact that such systems push down costs by negotiating better rates with providers (Christopher Flavelle, 6/3).

Sacramento Bee: Why Does U.S. Pay So Much For Basic Medicine?
Trying to find out how much a hospital stay or any medical procedure costs requires "an advanced university degree in Dante's Circles of Hell," wrote Joe Livernois in an April 7 piece in The Bee's Forum section. He was trying to compare the cost of his father's nine-day hospital stay in Mexico – including all the lab work, drugs, anesthesia and specialists – with an equivalent stay in California. In Mexico, the cost was $6,375. Here, the cost was nigh impossible to pin down, but after considerable tracking, Livernois estimated it would be about $125,000 (6/4).

San Jose Mercury News: Governor Should Let Counties Keep Health Care Funds Until Savings Are Realized
California and Santa Clara County are well positioned to be role models for implementing Obamacare -- but only if Gov. Jerry Brown lets counties keep the money they need to make their health programs work. The governor and Legislature did a good job establishing the new health insurance exchange. The premium rates announced last week are lower than expected. They are working to expand Medi-Cal to reduce the number of uninsured residents and to restore dental care for adults, since the alternative is far costlier emergency room visits (6/3). 

Des Moines Register: Iowans Need Answers To Medicaid Questions
State workers are now in the midst of preparing the application to secure a waiver from the Obama administration (to develop its own program for the Medicaid expansion). One of those hoops the state has to jump through is hearing from the public. A federal rule requires states to seek public input prior to submitting a Medicaid waiver application. That is an important requirement. ... But the meetings held Monday and today were not designed to answer questions. In fact, the moderators said they were not allowed to do so. The meetings are simply to solicit public input. ... That's fine -; except people have important questions. State officials should schedule public meetings to answer these questions (6/4).

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