Health Care Reform Made Easy

Today is the official start of a number of provisions within the Health Care Reform law (also known as the Affordable Care Act).  After reading and re-reading the law and reading and re-reading explanations of the law, I have been explaining and re-explaining all of the ways that this law will affect employers, employees, individuals, insurance companies, etc. etc. since March. 

Recently, I came across a video from our friends at the Kaiser Family Foundation that does a very good job of explaining health care reform for the average Joe.  Please take less than ten minutes to watch the video below.  You won’t be an expert after you see it, but you will definitely have a better understanding of how the whole thing is supposed to work.


Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive!

Every now and again, medicine advances in an unexpected way.  The good news today is that there is now a new, simpler, less “germy” method of saving someone’s life.  And it’s got a beat you can dance to…

Health Care Will Not Reform Itself

Health Care Will Not Reform ItselfI am an avid reader of any book that presents new ideas on how to address the health system in this country as you can see from my book list on my LinkedIn page. I am re-posting a great book review by Clayton Christiansen who writes at The Intentional Leader blog. Based on his review, I am going to go out and pick up a copy of this book today!

George Halvorson is the CEO of Kaiser Permanente, the largest not-for-profit health plan and care system in the U.S., and has been a leader in the industry for over 30 years. Health Care Will Not Reform Itself is his attempt to spell out what he thinks are the key problems and most promising solutions to the health care problems we face. For Halvorson, as the title of the book suggests, we cannot expect our health care system (which he calls a “n … Read More

via the intentional leader

Health Insurance Rate Expectations for 2011

medical inflation vs CPI courtesy healthinflation.comI recently wrote a post about health insurance companies seeing a trend in decreased utilization, which could mean lower rate increase in 2011.  But perception is often different among different groups.  For example, the National Business Group on Health in Washington, which represents large companies, reported last month that its members expect increased costs of almost 9 percent, up from 7 percent in 2010. In addition, the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers reported in June that its members were seeing group health plan increases ranging between 11 percent and 20 percent for companies with less than 50 employees, and increases between 6 percent and 15 percent for employers with 51 to 500 employees. As a result, they expect increases in 2011 to mirror 2010. 

We are seeing similar increases with our clients and as a result we are seeing clients looking seriously at adding high deductible health plans, Health Savings Accounts and Health Reimbursement Accounts to their plan designs.  Gary Claxton, director of the Healthcare Marketplace Project, said, “Consumer-driven plans have clearly established a foothold in the employer market, tripling their market share from 4 percent in 2006 to 13 percent today.”

To be sure, many are blaming Health Care Reform for at least part of the premium increases.  However, many of the law’s provisions won’t be effective until 2014. Mark Schmit, director of research at the Society for Human Resource Management in Virginia says that because , “…all the remnants of the healthcare system that led to reform are still in place…annual premium increases are inevitable for the next few years.”  He cites the aging workforce as the main driver of healthcare costs for 2011.  Obviously, he is in the camp that believes Health Care Reform may slow premium increases at some point. 

Interestingly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics measured medical service inflation at 3.4 percent for 2009 and through July of 2010 at 3.2 percent.  Now, premium rates include this rate plus utilization measures plus health risk measures.  So if we take the average premium increase in 2010, which was about 15% and subtract out the 2009 medical inflation of 3.4 percent, we’ll get 11.6 percent.  Adding that number to the projected medical inflation number for 2010 (3.2 percent) we should expect premium increases to average about 14.8%, all variables (utilization and health risk) being equal.  I personally believe that utilization will be down in 2010 from 2009, so I expect rates to be slightly below this number next year.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed.  Remember, stay healthy and be well!

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