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What We Read Today 12 March 2014

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

There are 14 articles discussing Obamacare 'behind the wall' today.

  • New data show Obamacare gaining traction (Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times) A collection of data indicates that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is making some significant gains, especially for low income households. Some (perhaps most) of the cost reductions for January may be one-time events. Future months may go back to the low levels of cost increases seen in 2013, which is still better than the longer-term historical cost trend. See also next two articles for discussion about costs.


The 0.3 percent rise in income was partly influenced by temporary factors, such as the start of health care coverage in several areas under the Affordable Care Act.

Medicaid benefits were boosted $19.2 billion due to expanded coverage under the ACA. Other government social benefits to persons was boosted $14.7 billion, reflecting increases in several refundable tax credits, including health insurance premium subsidies paid in the form of tax credits to enrollees of the ACA exchanges.
  • Individual market enrollment: Updated view (McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform) Included in a list of survey results are (1) more than 75% of enrollees paid their new premiums (survey 4-13 February); (2) 27% of previously uninsured said they had selected a product but only 10% had actually enrolled; and (3) affordability was cited as the leading reason for not enrolling but 80% of those were eligible for federal subsidies and 66% were unaware of that.


  • Exchange activity slows again (Allison Bell, Life Health Pro) A total of 4.2 million people had selected a commercial "qualified health plan" under ACA (Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare) as of March 1. There are 8.8 million people eligible.
About 48 percent of the consumers who are eligible to enroll in QHPs have selected QHPs. But only 1.5 million people got through the QHP determination process in February, down 30 percent from the number who got through the determination process in January. Just 942,833 selected QHPs, down 18 percent from the January QHP selection total.
  • U.S. Uninsured Rate Continues to Fall (Jenna Levy, Gallup Well-Being) Progess is being made at improving the insurance coverage for lower income and black Americans, but overall coverage is still not as good as before the Great Financial Crisis. Data is presented through 4Q 2013.


  • Fewer Americans Obtain Primary Health Coverage Through Employers (Michael Giardina, Health Insurance Exchange) The percentage of Americans who currently obtain health insurance coverage through their employers continues to drop, indicating an ongoing trend among benefit plan sponsors and HR decision-makers to shift costs to public and private exchanges.
" cannot claim that a plan is "unaffordable" when over the course of the year it will provide you with substantial savings. Thus we are changing the rating on this ad from Two Pinocchios to Three Pinocchios."

See also Dexter cancer patient who called health care 'unaffordable' will save more than $1K (Marisa Schultz, Detroit News) and UPDATED-Koch bros' fake "Obamacare victim" Julie Boonstra made to look even more foolish & exploited (Eclectablog, Daily Kos)

When advised of the details of her Blues' plan, Boonstra said the idea that it would be cheaper "can't be true."

"I personally do not believe that," Boonstra said.


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