Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Implementation of the Affordable Care Act––More Evidence That Rate Shock is Coming

The Society of Actuaries is out with another estimate of health insurance rate increases as a result of implementation of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare").

While there is a great deal of difference between states, they are estimating an average increase of 31.5% on account of the new underwriting reform and benefit expansion requirements of the health law:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Six Months to Go –– Will the Health Insurance Exchanges Be Ready on Time? Survey: Health Plan Execs Don't Think So

As the Obama administration continues its top secret effort to build federal insurance exchanges in about 34 states while 16 states are doing it on their own, that continues to be the big question.

HHS is using IT consulting firm CGI for much of the work on the exchanges and the federal data hub. CGI has their plate full since they are not only working on the federal exchange but also doing work for the state exchanges in at least Colorado, Vermont, and Hawaii.

Earlier this month, the Senate Finance Committee held an oversight hearing. The Obama guy in charge of exchange development testified before them. I thought it was notable that it was the Democrats who expressed the greatest concern, and frustration, over senators not getting a clear idea for just where the administration is toward the goal of launching the new health insurance exchanges on October 1.

I thought the following Reuters quote was telling;
I am absolutely confident that every state will have an exchange that will be functioning and ready, said Gary Cohen [HHS executive in charge of the effort], who declined to elaborate on the number and identity of states that could be in for difficulties."
He wouldn't elaborate on just where there might be problems? Why? Why does the administration have to be so secretive?

This lack of transparency has the health insurance industry––the people the feds are going to have to connect with––very worried.

In early February, information technology consultant Edifecs, which provides health care software services to health plans, hospitals, and other organizations, held a "Compliance Summit" for 125 executives from hospitals, clearing houses, state health insurance exchanges, and health plans. The audience included executives from 34 different health plans. I gave the conference's opening keynote speech.

These are the industry executives that the state and federal exchanges are working with day-to-day. So, if you want to get the perspective from those in the trenches with the state and federal health insurance exchanges (HIXs) on whether they'll be ready, this is a pretty good group to ask.

Edifecs did just that using interactive software in the room to get the audience's response to a number of questions.

The input from the marketplace doesn't inspire confidence:

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Cost to Launch the California Health Insurance Exchange is $910 million––Does That Sound Like a Lot to You?

So far California has received $910 million in federal grants to launch its new health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare").

The California exchange, "Covered California," has so far awarded a $183 million contract to Accenture to build the website, enrollment, and eligibility system and another $174 million to operate the exchange for four years.

The state will also spend $250 million on a two-year marketing campaign. By comparison California Senator Barbara Boxer spent $28 million on her 2010 statewide reelection campaign while her challenger spent another $22 million.
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