Bloggers are estimating whether it’s worth keep health insurance under the new law, what’s happening with the design of health insurance plans and a key health policy blogger announces his last post.
Political Calculations, while hosting the blog carnival known as “Calvacade of Risk,” made a tool to estimate whether dropping insurance coverage actually make sense for healthy individuals under the new health law. According to the authors, they found: “Playing with the numbers in our tool, what we find is that the less likely an individual will need medical care, the more it is to their advantage to drop their current health care coverage and become uninsured, buying it only if it becomes necessary, then to drop it again once its not needed.”
On a similar note, Insure Blog’s Henry Stern predicts: “Mini-med (aka “limited benefit” plans) will become “supplements” (much like MediGap plans) for folks sophisticated enough to use them that way. … Only suckers and those eligible for subsidies will buy the exorbitantly priced health insurance plans that will become the norm under ObamaCare©. Thoughtful people will do the math, concluding that paying the non-compliance tax is much cheaper than paying premiums.”
Critical Condition’s Avik S. A. Roy says that in place of the current legislation, Republicans should encourage the adoption of “consumer-driven health care. CDHC, as regular readers of this blog are well aware, consists of health plans in which consumers buy insurance for catastrophic health events, but pay routine expenses directly using tax-free health savings accounts.” Roy looks at a new study from Aetna of participants’ behavior in consumer-driven plans versus preferred provider organization plans, but bemoans that under the new health law CDHC plans are “at risk of being curtailed, if not asphyxiated.”
In another installment of Heritage’s “Side Effects of ObamaCare,” Richard Sherwood argues that primary care shortages will get worse under the new law: “Call it a double-edged sword on physician supply. It creates demand for more physicians as it encourages doctors to leave the profession entirely. Under Obamacare, physician workload is expected to increase, even as federal health programs cut reimbursement rates for the docs. ‘Work more for less’ is not a slogan calculated to attract more workers to the field or improve the quality of care.”
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein disagrees with some conservative commentators’ assertions that the new health care law appears to reduce the deficit more than it does in reality because the government doesn’t have to pay out new benefits until 2014, even though it collects revenue starting in 2010. Klein says: “Republicans now believe that saving money in order to offset the cost of purchasing something is some sort of trick, where it used to just be responsible budgeting. But in any case, it’s not true, as you can see in this graph that CBO just released” (below).
The New Health Dialogue’s Joanne Kenen reports that former directors of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services–appointed by Republican presidents–are praising Don Berwick, rumored to be President Barack Obama’s pick to run the agency. Kenen says, “Why is this important? Because both Scully and McClellan headed CMS under Republican administrations. And while political affiliation of Medicare directors may not be relevant in a perfect world, this is not a perfect world. This is Washington — and Berwick, we have been told, is likely to face a Senate confirmation fight. He needs at least one Republican to back him, and while we suspect that will happen in time, we would prefer sooner rather than later. Wonder what the chances of him getting some love from his home-state senator. No, it’s not John Kerry we’re wondering about. It’s the other one — Scott Brown.”
And, to the disappointment of many health policy blog readers, the New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn announced today that he is retiring his health policy blog, The Treatment. Cohn writes, “TNR created this blog to cover the debate over whether to pass comprehensive health care reform. That debate has ended. Now it is time for this blog to do the same. … Of course, the story of health care reform isn’t over. In a sense, it’s just beginning. Implementing the new law will involve its own, very different set of challenges. But just as this isn’t the end of my life as a health care reporter, so this isn’t the end of my life as a TNR blogger. To my surprise, I found I actually liked blogging. I even started a Twitter feed, although I’ve had trouble convincing Noam to do the same. I’m not giving up either endeavor.”