Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Ezra Klein's Wonkblog at the Washington Post offers a series of posts in a summary of the Affordable Care Act regulations released on Tuesday. This should give you policy wonks something to read over the long Thanksgiving Day weekend. Wonkbook: Everything you need to know about Obamacare’s regulations:
Everything you need to know about Obamacare’s regulations
The Affordable Care Act regulations came down on Tuesday. Here’s what they say. “The Obama administration took a big step on Tuesday to carry out the new health care law by defining ‘essential health benefits’ that must be offered to most Americans… Insurance companies are rushing to devise health benefit plans that comply with the federal standards. Starting in October, people can enroll in the new plans, for coverage that begins on Jan. 1, 2014…The rules lay out 10 broad categories of essential health benefits, but allow each state to specify the benefits within those categories, at least for 2014 and 2015. Thus, the required benefits will vary from state to state, contrary to what many members of Congress had assumed when the law was adopted.” Robert Pear in The New York Times.
Another key component of the rules includes those on preexisting conditions coverage. “The Obama administration issued new rules Tuesday that require insurance companies to cover people with preexisting medical conditions — one of the most popular provisions of President Obama’s healthcare law…Covering people with preexisting conditions is expensive, and the law seeks to bring younger, healthier people into the system to offset the additional costs of covering sick people. HHS took steps in crafting the regulations to minimize the potential shock to customers’ premiums. For example, in the policy governing rate increases based on age, HHS said rates should increase slightly every year, rather than building in larger price jumps every five years.” Sam Baker in The Hill.
@sarahkliff: What’s that? You were looking for 112 pages of actuarial value in health exchanges regulations? You, sir, are in luck!
Wellness programs also get a big boost in the ACA regs. “The Obama administration released new regulations Tuesday to encourage participation in employer-based wellness programs as a way to drive down healthcare costs…The less-familiar wellness rules will increase the maximum permissible reward for workers who participate in programs that encourage certain health outcomes, such as smoking cessation or weight loss…Under the proposed rules, these ‘health-contingent wellness programs’ will now yield a reward of up to 30 percent of the cost of health coverage rather than 20 percent. Workers involved in smoking cessation programs will be eligible for as much as a 50 percent discount, HHS said.” Elise Viebeck in The Hill.
@sahilkapur: Pre-ex rules: premiums may vary on age, tobacco use, family size & geography but not on health status, gender or occupation.
3 more ways the Affordable Care Act changed on Tuesday. “[T]here are a few important changes that the Obama administration made Tuesday. Culled from the 333 pages of federal regulation, here are the three most important changes that happened…Higher deductibles are a-okay — in certain plans…In the small group market, this meant that insurers could not set a deductible any higher than $2,000 for an individual…Insurers griped out this provision: They said it might be impossible, with that relatively small deductible to build an insurance plan that has the consumer paying 40 percent of the bill. Tuesday, the Obama administration essentially agreed.” Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.
@sam_baker: Today’s #hcr regulations give insurers more certainty about some of the ACA’s most politically popular elements [bad link]
What the Affordable Care Act does? Americans just don’t know. “After surviving a Supreme Court decision and a presidential election, the Obama administration’s health-care law faces another challenge: a public largely unaware of major changes that will roll out in the coming months. States are rushing to decide whether to build their own health exchanges and the administration is readying final regulations, but a growing body of research suggests that most low-income Americans who will become eligible for subsidized insurance have no idea what is coming…Low enrollment could lead to higher premiums, health policy experts say. Hospitals worry that, without widespread participation, they will continue getting stuck with patients’ unpaid medical bills.” Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.
The states will get extensive input in the health law. “The Obama administration Tuesday issued new rules to implement several key provisions of the health-care-overhaul law, giving states some additional discretion over plans sold within their borders…The federal government also expanded requirements for prescription-drug coverage from previous proposals, but it left states with different options to choose from, as well as responsibility for enforcement.” Louise Radnofsky in The Wall Street Journal.