Undocumented immigrants are expected to make up a larger share of Connecticut’s uninsured population next year, putting “new financial pressures on safety-net hospitals” that provide emergency care to everyone, state and national health experts predict.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides coverage options for legal immigrants, but those in the U.S. illegally cannot apply for Medicaid, even if they are poor, or buy coverage at Access Health CT (the new insurance marketplace), even if they have cash. That means undocumented residents without coverage will continue turning to local emergency departments for care at a time when Connecticut hospitals face the loss of millions of dollars in federal and state subsidies to help defray the cost of uncompensated care.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced this morning that nearly 365,000 Americans had signed up for private health insurance under Obamacare. The vast majority came from 14 states running their own insurance exchanges, while 137,000 came by way of HealthCare.gov, the much-faulted federal website that handles enrollment for the remaining states.
But amid the rush to enroll as many people as possible by the Dec. 23 deadline, there’s a huge caveat that isn’t getting much public attention: In order for coverage to take effect on Jan. 1, enrollees must pay their first month’s premium on time. (The deadline varies somewhat by state and by insurer.)
That’s slow going, according to consultants and some insurers, raising the prospect that actual enrollment will be far lower than the figures HHS is releasing.
“There is also a lot of worrying going on over people making payments,” industry consultant Robert Laszewski wrote in an email. “One client reports only 15% have paid so far. It is still too early to know for sure what this means but we should expect some enrollment slippage come the payment due date.”
Nearly 15,000 enrollment records from Americans trying to sign up for Obamacare never made it to insurers — but the federal government does not know which records never made it to which insurer.
The federal analysis merely compares the number of times Obamacare enrollees clicked “enroll” to the number of plans HealthCare.gov sent to insurers, according to The Washington Post. Consumers who send the vanishing enrollments, or “orphan files,” are not notified that their information has not been processed and an insurer did not receive sensitive financial and health-related data, meaning that they could be in for an unpleasant surprise when the Dec. 23 deadline — the last day for customers to sign up for health insurance — comes and goes.
But government officials insist that less than one percent of enrollments disappeared into cyberspace since early December, even though their data does not include duplicated and erroneous enrollments.
But the third plank in the triad of disinformation hasn’t gotten much attention: Obamacare will save you, me, and the country a lot of money. This lie took several forms.
First, Obama promised on numerous occasions that the average family of four will save $2,500 a year in premiums. Where did that number come from? Three Harvard economists wrote a memo in 2007 in which they claimed that then-Senator Obama’s health-care plan would reduce national health-care spending by $200 billion. Then, according to the New York Times, the authors “divided [$200 billion] by the country’s population, multiplied for a family of four, and rounded down slightly to a number that was easy to grasp: $2,500.”
In September, the Obama administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services used far more rigorous methods to predict that Obamacare would increase national health-care spending by $621 billion. Using Obama’s own math, that would mean — according to Chris Conover, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute and Duke University — each family of four in America will spend an additional $7,450 thanks to Obamacare.
Of course, that methodology is still bogus. But it’s probably closer to the truth.
For the second week in a row, the Washington Healthplanfinder website is down, and it’s causing problems for people who are dealing with billing issues. Some of them say the website is mistakenly debiting their accounts.
Shannon Bruner of Indianola logged on to her checking account Monday morning, and found she was almost 800 dollars in the negative.
“The first thing I thought was, ‘I got screwed,’” she said.
The Bruners enrolled for insurance on the Washington Healthplanfinder website, last October. They say they selected the bill pay date to be December 24th. Instead the Washington Healthplanfinder drafted the 835 dollar premium Monday.
Josh Bruner started his own business this year as an engineering recruiter. They said it’s forced them to pay a lot of attention to their bills and their bank accounts.
“Big knot in my gut because we’re trying to keep it together,” said Shannon Bruner. “It’s important to me that this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.”
They’re not alone.
One viewer emailed KING 5 saying, “They drafted my account this morning for a second time.”
Another woman on Facebook with a similar problem commented, “We are all in the same boat.”
“We’ve got to figure out how to get money to pay the bills for the next week or two until we have another check come through,” said Josh Bruner. “It’s just crazy.”
More than 2,400 Connecticut customers who bought health plans on Access Health CT were given incorrect information about their insurance plans, in one case underestimating the maximum out-of-pocket by at least $4,000.
The website for Access Health CT, the state’s new health exchange, had incorrect information online about deductibles and co-insurance impacting all 19 individual health plans from the three insurance companies that offer those plans through the exchange: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Connecticut, ConnectiCare, and HealthyCT. The 12 small-group plans were unaffected.
Access Health CT would not say how the problem started, or who was responsible. The exchange did say that the problem was discovered in late September and was fixed by Oct. 30.
An Associated Press-GfK poll finds that health care remains politically charged going into next year’s congressional elections. Keeping the refurbished HealthCare.gov website running smoothly is just one of Obama’s challenges, maybe not the biggest.
The poll found a striking level of unease about the law among people who have health insurance and aren’t looking for government help. Those are the 85 percent of Americans who the White House says don’t have to be worried about the president’s historic push to expand coverage for the uninsured.
In the survey, nearly half of those with job-based or other private coverage say their policies will be changing next year — mostly for the worse. Nearly 4 in 5 (77 percent) blame the changes on the Affordable Care Act, even though the trend toward leaner coverage predates the law’s passage.
Sixty-nine percent say their premiums will be going up, while 59 percent say annual deductibles or copayments are increasing.
Only 21 percent of those with private coverage said their plan is expanding to cover more types of medical care, though coverage of preventive care at no charge to the patient has been required by the law for the past couple of years.
Fourteen percent said coverage for spouses is being restricted or eliminated, and 11 percent said their plan is being discontinued.
Of all of the last-minute delays, website bungles, and Presidential whims that have marred the roll-out of Obamacare’s subsidized insurance exchanges, what happened on Thursday, December 12 will stand as one of the most lawless acts yet committed by this administration. The White House—having canceled Americans’ old health plans, and having botched the system for enrolling people in new ones—knows that millions of Americans will enter the new year without health coverage. So instead of actually fixing the problem, the administration is retroactively attempting to force insurers to hand out free health care—at a loss—to those whom the White House has rendered uninsured. If Obamacare wasn’t a government takeover of the health insurance industry, then what is it now?
On Wednesday afternoon, health policy reporters found in their inboxes a friendly e-mail from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announcing “steps to ensure Americans signing up through the Marketplace have coverage and access to the care they need on January 1.” Basically, the “steps” involve muscling insurers to provide free or discounted care to those who have become uninsured because of the problems with healthcare.gov.
“What’s wrong with ‘urging’ insurers to offer free care?” you might ask. “That’s not the same as forcing them to offer free care.” Except that the government is using the full force of its regulatory powers, under Obamacare, to threaten insurers if they don’t comply. All you have to do is read the menacing language in the new regulations that HHS published this week, in which HHS says it may throw otherwise qualified health plans off of the exchanges next year if they don’t comply with the government’s “requests.”
“We are considering factoring into the [qualified health plan] renewal process, as part of the determination regarding whether making a health plan available…how [insurers] ensure continuity of care during transitions,” they write. Which is kind of like the Mafia saying that it will “consider” the amount of protection money you’ve paid in its decision as to whether or not it vandalizes your storefront.
There are other services HHS is asking insurers to offer for free. The administration is “strongly encouraging insurers to treat out-of-network providers”—i.e., costly ones—“as in-network to ensure continuity of care” and to “refill prescriptions covered under previous plans during January.” But the issue of unpaid premiums looms largest.
Phyllis Dessel, 63, of Reading, Pa., believes she is finally enrolled after 50 attempts online. The retired social worker, a political independent, currently has her own private insurance.
When Dessel described her experience, she jokingly asked, “Do you mind if I cry?”
Thanks to tax credits available under the law, she was able to save about $100 a month on the monthly premium for her new coverage. But she had to switch carriers because staying with her current insurer would have cost more than she was willing to pay. She hasn’t gotten an invoice yet from her new insurance company.
The premiums she found on the new insurance marketplace were “not at all” what she expected, said Dessel. “They were much, much higher.”
A supporter of Obama’s overhaul, she believes changes are needed to make the coverage more affordable.
“I think with a lot of amendments or updates, it could be very, very helpful and beneficial,” said Dessel. “I know a lot of people who don’t have insurance. My hairdresser, my plumber don’t have insurance and they’re not going to get it if it’s not affordable.”
That “erroneous debit” story could be a peek into the future- how Obama will seize your assets and redistribute them as he sees fit.
Just wait until Obamacare sycophants learn that there is something worse than a non-functional website- that is a functional website.
Just wait until they learn what a deductible is.
Just wait until they learn that “out of pocket” means out of THEIR pockets.