HHS discourages third-party premium subsidies on exchanges   11/05/2013
The Department of Health and Human Services has “significant concerns” with hospitals and others “supporting premium payments and cost-sharing obligations with respect to qualified health plans purchased by patients in the [health insurance] Marketplaces,” and intends to monitor the practice and “take appropriate action, if necessary,” the agency said today in a Q&A document. The document encourages health plan issuers to reject such payments. In a letter last week to a member of Congress, HHS clarified that the anti-kickback statute is not a barrier to offering such subsidies; the Q&A does not contradict that guidance. “While the latest guidance creates many unanswered questions, its message is extremely disappointing and entirely inconsistent with the goals of expanding access to care and coverage,” said AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack. AHA members will receive an updated legal advisory on the issue in the next few days.
CMS updates committee on federal health insurance exchange   11/05/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services next week will release data on the number of Americans enrolling in health coverage through healthcare.gov, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner told the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee today. “Users can now successfully create an account and continue through the full application and enrollment process,” Tavenner testified at a hearing on the online marketplace. “We are now able to process nearly 17,000 registrants per hour, or 5 per second, with almost no errors.” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is scheduled to testify tomorrow at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the exchanges, launched Oct. 1 to enroll individuals and families in health coverage.
Reports look at health plan costs in exchanges, subsidy eligibility   11/05/2013
A new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation looks at what young adults will pay out-of-pocket for health plans on 15 of the state exchanges launched Oct 1. The report shows a snapshot of premiums, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance amounts for primary care physician and specialist visits for the second-lowest-cost silver plan, the benchmark for determining an individual’s premium tax credit amount. The average premium for a 27-year-old was $266 per month, which does not reflect premium tax credits or cost-sharing subsidies. A new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that more than 17 million Americans could be eligible for premium tax credits in 2014.