Certain drugs in Obamacare plans carry hefty pricetags

Insurers selling Obamacare plans have set drug prices according to a tiered system that in some cases requires consumers to pay as much as 50 percent of the cost, The Associated Press writes. Meanwhile, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that although a glitch that had disseminated incorrect subsidy information on healthcare.gov had been fixed, wrong information might still be given out by independent sites. Also, the administration signaled it would allow people to enroll in health plans after March 31 if they had tried but been unable to sign up because of glitches. 

The Associated Press: Obamacare Plans Bring Hefty Fees For Certain Drugs
Breast cancer survivor Ginny Mason was thrilled to get health coverage under the Affordable Care Act despite her pre-existing condition. But when she realized her arthritis medication fell under a particularly costly tier of her plan, she was forced to switch to another brand. Under the plan, her Celebrex would have cost $648 a month until she met her $1,500 prescription deductible, followed by an $85 monthly co-pay. Mason is one of the many Americans with serious illnesses -; including cancer, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis -; who are indeed finding relatively low monthly premiums under President Barack Obama's law. But some have been shocked at how much their prescriptions are costing as insurers are sorting drug prices into a complex tier system and in some cases charging co-insurance rates as high as 50 percent. That can leave patients on the hook for thousands (Kennedy, 3/22).

Reuters: U.S. To Allow Some People To Enroll In Obamacare After Deadline 
The Obama administration will soon issue new Obamacare guidelines allowing people to enroll in health coverage after a March 31 deadline, but only under certain circumstances, according to sources close to the administration. The sources said the new federal guidelines for consumers in the 36 states served by the federal health insurance marketplace and its website, HealthCare.gov, would allow people to enroll after March 31 if they had tried earlier and were prevented by system problems including technical glitches (Morgan, 3/21).

Reuters: Insurers See Double-Digit Obamacare Price Rises In Many States Next Year 
U.S. consumers eligible for Obamacare health plans could see double-digit price hikes next year in states that fail to draw large numbers of enrollees for 2014, including some states that have been hostile to the healthcare law, according to insurance industry officials and analysts. The early estimates come as insurance companies set out to design plans they intend to sell in 2015 through the state-based health insurance marketplaces that are a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy achievement that is widely referred to as Obamacare (Morgan and Humer, 3/21).

The Wall Street Journal: Expect Health-Insurance Premiums To Rise
You could continue to see prices increasing this year for your health-care coverage. Several recent studies point to provisions in the Affordable Care Act-;such as the requirement that insurers cover sick individuals as well as preventive care, like mammograms-;that could lead to higher prices, at least in the short term. The underlying cost of care itself, meanwhile, continues to rise at a steady clip (Johnson, 3/22).

The Washington Post: For Some Who Are Married But Filing Taxes Separately, Another Healthcare.Gov Hurdle
In May 2012, when the Internal Revenue Service proposed its rules for Americans to get government subsidies for health insurance, officials acknowledged that a legal quirk needed to be fixed: The Affordable Care Act was written in a way that inadvertently denied such help to some people who live apart from spouses who abuse them, are in prison or are on the cusp of a divorce. The problem is that the law's authors, in creating tax credits to help pay for health plans bought through the new insurance marketplaces, had overlooked the fact that some married people file their tax returns separately (Goldstein, 3/23).

NPR: Insurance Chief Suggests Adding A New, Lower Level Of Health Plan
Rather than letting people keep their old health plans that don't comply with the new requirements of the Affordable Care Act, the head of the group that represents the nation's health insurance companies is floating an alternative: weakening the requirements. "If you take 10 categories of coverage," said Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, in an interview taped for C-SPAN's Newsmakers, "no matter how meritorious each and every one of those benefits may be ... you have a giant step up" from what many people had before, and wanted to pay for (Rovner, 3/21).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: AHIP President Calls For New Level Of Insurance Under Health Law
A new tier of coverage should be added to the health law's online marketplaces, or exchanges, that would be less comprehensive than what plans are now required to offer, the head of the health insurance industry's trade group said Sunday (Carey, 3/24).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Latest Obamcare Glitch Fixed, But Other Sites May Repeat The Error
A glitch in the Obamacare window-shopping tool that incorrectly responded "not eligible" to queries about financial help from households just above the poverty line was fixed hours after the administration learned of the issue, officials said Friday. For 35 days, Healthcare.gov used the wrong year's federal poverty-level guidelines for informal assessments of eligibility. … similar mistakes uncovered at independent sites raise the possibility that wrong information is still being disseminated less than 10 days before open enrollment ends for the year. (Sapatkin, 3/23).

Fox News: Another Glitch: Newly Discovered HealthCare.Gov Error Giving Bad Info On Premium Aid

A newly discovered glitch in the main ObamaCare website reportedly is giving thousands of people the wrong information about whether they qualify for premium subsidies. The Philadelphia Inquirer discovered the glitch while entering hypothetical incomes into the calculator on HealthCare.gov. The newspaper found that the calculator is using the wrong year's poverty guidelines -- a simple mistake that, for months, has resulted in would-be enrollees getting inaccurate guidance. Because of the glitch, some people may be initially told they qualify for subsidies when they don't. Others may be told they don't qualify when they do (3/21).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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