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ACA Advertising in 2014 – Insurance and Political Ads

October 31, 2014 Comments off

ACA Advertising in 2014 – Insurance and Political Ads
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, the law has been an often potent and divisive political issue, and has sparked an unprecedented amount of political and campaign advertising, particularly from candidates and groups that oppose the law. According to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG), no other federal program or policy has resulted in the kind of advertising the ACA has caused, namely the combination of new insurance “product” advertising and sustained political advertising across multiple election cycles.

This year, Americans saw the launch of the ACA’s insurance market reforms, the implementation of the state and federal exchanges where people can shop for coverage and access subsidies, and the expansion of Medicaid in many states. Alongside these policy changes, new stakeholders began to advertise to encourage participation in the new coverage options, including state and federal governments, non-profit groups looking to boost enrollment, and health insurance companies seeking new customers. The mid-term elections have also brought a new collection of political advertising with ACA messaging. These two distinct types of advertising have different goals and aims; some encourage people to take advantage of new options under the ACA, while others encourage people to vote a certain way. With both of these types of advertising making their way into American living rooms in 2014, this analysis describes the full spectrum of ads that the American public is being exposed to regarding health care, both in the context of health insurance coverage, and as a political issue in the mid-term elections.

About these ads

Comparing Federal Government Surveys that Count the Uninsured: 2014

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Comparing Federal Government Surveys that Count the Uninsured: 2014
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Estimates of the number of people who are uninsured are available from several different sources. This brief provides an annual update to comparisons of uninsurance estimates from five federal surveys. It presents trends in national estimates of uninsurance, presents the most recent available state-level estimates from these surveys, and describes the main reasons for variation in the estimates across the different surveys.

Explaining Health Care Reform: Questions About Health Insurance Subsidies

October 29, 2014 Comments off

Explaining Health Care Reform: Questions About Health Insurance Subsidies
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

Good health insurance can be expensive, and is therefore often out of reach for lower and moderate income families, particularly if they are not offered health benefits at work. To make coverage obtainable for families that otherwise could not afford it and to encourage broad participation in health insurance, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes provisions to lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs for people with low and modest incomes. The adequacy of this assistance will be a key determinant of how many people ultimately gain coverage and whether or not lower-income people will be able to use the health insurance they obtain.

This brief provides an overview of the financial assistance provided under the ACA for people purchasing coverage on their own through health insurance Marketplaces (also called exchanges). In addition to offering financial assistance to some people purchasing their own private coverage, the ACA also gives states the option to bolster public coverage by expanding their Medicaid programs to cover people with incomes under 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). While this brief focuses on the premium tax credit and cost-sharing subsidies for marketplace enrollees, expanded coverage for low income people through Medicaid and new tax credits for small businesses are addressed in other reports.

New Report: Spending Per Privately Insured Grew 3.9% in 2013, as Falling Utilization Offset Rising Prices

October 28, 2014 Comments off

New Report: Spending Per Privately Insured Grew 3.9% in 2013, as Falling Utilization Offset Rising Prices
Source: Health Care Cost Institute

Privately insured Americans spent more on medical services in 2013 even though they used fewer of them, according a new report by the Health Care Cost Institute. Spending per enrollee in employer health plans grew by 3.9%, continuing the moderate growth trend that began in 2010. But falling utilization helped mask continued growth in health care prices.

In the 2013 Health Care Cost and Utilization Report—an annual study of health care price and utilization trends for Americans younger than age 65 participating in employer health plans—HCCI finds that health care spending averaged $4,915 per enrollee in 2013, up $185 from the year before.

Out-of-pocket costs, including co-payments and deductibles paid directly by consumers, remained stable as a percentage of overall health spending. A companion issue brief, Out-Of-Pocket Spending Trends (2013), details these trends by demographic groups and service category.

Nearly Half of U.S. Employers Expected to Hit the Health Care “Cadillac” Tax in 2018 with 82% Triggering the Tax by 2023

October 27, 2014 Comments off

Nearly Half of U.S. Employers Expected to Hit the Health Care “Cadillac” Tax in 2018 with 82% Triggering the Tax by 2023
Source: Towers Watson

Despite continuing efforts to rein in rising health care costs, roughly half of large U.S. employers will begin to hit the excise tax in 2018 and the percentage is expected to rise significantly in subsequent years, according to an analysis of large employer health care programs conducted by global professional services company Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW). Further, the size of the tax burden is expected to be substantial as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the total liability for companies subject to the tax could be a cumulative $79 billion between 2018 and 2023.

Implemented as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the excise or “Cadillac” tax is a 40% tax on the value of all affected health care programs a participant elects that exceed certain dollar thresholds in 2018 and beyond. This non-deductible excise tax must be paid by the employer (although some employers are contemplating charging the tax back to plan participants). A recent Towers Watson survey found that 73% of companies are very or somewhat concerned they will trigger the tax, and 62% say it will have a moderate or greater impact on their health care strategy in 2015 and 2016. The analysis revealed that 48% are likely to trigger the tax in 2018 and 82% could cross the threshold by 2023.

TIGTA — Additional Measures Needed to Provide Greater Assurance That Tax Information Provided to Health Exchanges Is Protected

October 27, 2014 Comments off

Additional Measures Needed to Provide Greater Assurance That Tax Information Provided to Health Exchanges Is Protected
Source: Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is authorized to disclose limited tax information to Affordable Care Act Exchanges when an applicant seeks financial assistance in obtaining health insurance. To protect the confidentiality of Federal Tax Information (FTI), the IRS has established safeguards the Exchanges must employ.

While the IRS has provided staff to facilitate the readiness of ACA Exchanges to receive FTI, additional procedures are needed to provide greater assurance that FTI will be protected prior to the IRS approving its release. That is the conclusion of a report publicly released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

CRS — Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): Resources for Frequently Asked Questions (October 10, 2014)

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): Resources for Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended) has numerous provisions affecting private health insurance and public health coverage programs. Many of these provisions take effect in 2014. This report provides resources to help congressional staff respond to constituents’ frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the law. The report lists selected resources regarding consumers, employers, and other stakeholders, with a focus on federal sources. It also lists CRS reports that summarize ACA’s provisions.

The report begins with links to contacts for specific ACA questions, such as Consumer Assistance Programs, state agencies, and local organizations that can answer constituents’ questions directly. For example, the federal HealthCare.gov website offers an ACA consumer telephone hotline and online chat assistance. The report also lists sources for congressional staff to contact federal agencies with ACA questions.

The report provides basic consumer sources, including a glossary of health coverage terms. The next sections focus on health coverage: the individual mandate, private health insurance, and exchanges, as well as public health care programs, such as Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicare, Indian health care, and veterans’ and military health care. It then lists sources on employer-sponsored coverage, including sources on employer penalties, small businesses, federal workers’ health plans, and union health plans. It also provides sources on ACA’s provisions on mental health, public health, workforce, quality, and taxes. Finally, the report lists sources on ACA costs and appropriations, legal issues, the treatment of noncitizens under ACA, and sources for obtaining the law’s full-text.

This list is not a comprehensive directory of all resources on the ACA, but rather is intended to address a few questions that may arise frequently.

See also:
Another Court Rejects Premium Tax Credits in Federal Exchanges under ACA, CRS Legal Sidebar (October 6, 2014) (PDF)
Appropriations and Fund Transfers in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (October 10, 2014) (PDF)

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