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Where Does Your Health Insurance Premium Go? »

AHIP, the trade association for health insurers, has a nifty infographic answering the question: “Where does your premium dollar go?” Obviously designed to defray accusations that health insurers earn too much profit, the infographic shows “net margin: of only three percent. A full 80 percent of our premium dollar goes to paying medical, hospital,...
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Health Insurance Contributes to Past-Due Medical Debt »

A new study of past-due medical debt, by Michael Karpman and Kyle J. Kaswell of the Urban Institute, shows that the expansion of health insurance coverage subsequent to the Affordable Care Act is associated with a reduction in the proportion of adults with past-due medical debt. In 2012, 29.6 percent of U.S. adults had...
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Employer-Based Coverage Does Not Equalize Access to Health Care »

One reason public policy favors employer-based health benefits instead of individually owned health insurance is that policymakers believe it equalizes access to health care among workers of all income levels. Insurers usually demand 75 percent of workers be covered, which leads to benefit design that attracts almost all workers to be covered. Employers do...
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Why Health Coverage Does Not Equal Healthcare Access »

Readers know I disagree with using measurements of “coverage” as measurements of access to health care. New data from the Louisiana Department of Health, which cheers the expansion of Medicaid dependency in the state, shows (unwittingly) exactly why. Healthy Louisiana’s Dashboard shows that 402,557 adults became dependent on Medicaid as a result of Obamacare’s...
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American Health Insurance Is Upside Down »

Writing in The Week, Ryan Cooper shares a chilling story about an Obamacare Gold-level health insurance policy that let its beneficiary down when he needed it most: Stewart is 29 years old, and was pursuing his Ph.D in American history at Texas Christian University until ill health forced him to withdraw. He lives in...
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Fixed-Dollar Tax Credits Would Reduce Individual Health Insurance Premiums »

Sonia Jaffe and Mark Shepard of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) have written a new paper, which compares the effects of fixed-dollar subsidies for health insurance to subsidies that are linked to premiums. They conclude that fixed-dollar subsidies reduce taxpayers’ costs and improve access. Unfortunately, the structure of subsidies in U.S. health...
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Obamacare’s Bureaucracy: The Amazing Rise in Health Insurance Jobs »

As Congress and President-elect Trump debate how to repeal and replace Obamacare, the obsession with health insurance, rather than actual access to health care, has dominated the debate. It invites the question: How have jobs in health insurance fared before and after Obamacare? They have boomed! Before the Great Recession, nonfarm civilian employment peaked...
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Obama Economists’ Bad Obamacare Economics »

President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) has issued its valedictory report on the state of Obamacare. The gist of its argument is that Obamacare is doing fine, on the verge of overcoming its growing pains since 2014. Critics (like me) who suspect the 25 percent increase in premiums for 2017 are a problem...
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“Surprise” Medical Bills a Big Problem »

Yale University professors Zach Cooper and Fiona Scott Morton have published a new article reporting their research on “surprise” medical bills. These occur when a patient goes to an in-network hospital but is treated (without his knowledge) by an out-of-network doctor and receives an unexpected bill from the doctor (or doctors). Examining 2.2 million...
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Why Aren’t Consumer-Driven Health Plans More Popular? »

In a recent post I discussed new evidence that so-called consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) reduce health spending one-eighth among employer-sponsored group plans run by national health insurance companies. CHDPs are defined as High-Deductible Health Plans coupled with Health Savings Accounts (or Health Reimbursement Arrangements). These plans became available in 2005. However, they appear to...
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