The Trump administration issued a proposed rule that would allow workers in large companies to use employee-provided tax-exempt health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) to help pay premiums for individual health insurance.
The goal, according to administration officials, is to empower employees to make their own decisions regarding the health care they choose to purchase. Rules imposed under President Barack Obama prevented employers from covering medical costs tax-free via HRAs, declaring they would not meet the federal government’s mandate requiring companies with more than 50 full-time employees to provide health insurance covering all items the Obama administration deemed “essential.”
The U.S. labor market is as healthy as it has been in a long time, especially for those with limited education and skills. Yet enrollment for the nation’s two largest means-tested safety-net programs, Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, remains near historic highs.
In previous periods of rising employment and income, takeup rates in assistance programs dropped. This hasn’t been the case in the years following the Great Recession, even after accounting for ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid. What gives?
Last week, the econowonks at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the 2017 National Health Expenditure (NHE) data. Links below.
For 2017, drug spending grew by a mere 0.4%—significantly below the growth of spending on hospitals, physician services, and overall national healthcare costs. These latest CMS data confirm the drug spending slowdown that I have highlighted in previous Drug Channels articles.
The nation’s health care tab hit $3.5 trillion last year, or $10,739 per person, the government reported Thursday. But behind those staggering figures was some fairly good news: The rate of growth slowed for the second year in a row, according to economic experts at the federal Health and Human Services department. Health care spending increased by 3.9 percent in 2017, following a 4.8 percent increase in 2016.
Deep-pocketed hospital, insurance and other lobbies are plotting to crush progressives’ hopes of expanding the government’s role in health care once they take control of the House. The private-sector interests, backed in some cases by key Obama administration and Hillary Clinton campaign alumni, are now focused on beating back another prospective health care overhaul, including plans that would allow people under 65 to buy into Medicare.
A membership-based primary care model, known as “direct primary care,” provides patients with a set number of health care services in exchange for a flat monthly fee. For example, Epiphany Health in North Port, Florida charges $65 per month for an adult membership and $25 for one child. In exchange for that fee, they offer physical exams, EKG testing, strep and urine testing, blood-thinner monitoring, minor surgical procedures, joint injections, and much more. Patients don’t pay a single penny more for these services beyond the cost of their membership fee. When patients need additional tests and services, such as a CT or MRI scan, Epiphany Health has discovered ways to provide these tests at affordable rates, too, by cutting out health insurance companies with third-party partners in the area.
Officials in states across the U.S. showed little interest for years about looking into the black box of pharmacy benefit managers, the pharmacy supply-chain middlemen who have been shrouded in secrecy as they pour billions of dollars worth of prescription drug rebates into state coffers.
According to a new NPR-IBM Watson Health Poll, about one in five people said they have delayed or canceled some kind of health care service, such as a doctor’s appointment or medical procedure, because of cost in the preceding three months. The proportion of people who said cost had deterred them from getting care varied by age, with a third of people under 35 saying it had been a problem compared with only 8% of people 65 and older. The cost of prescriptions also appeared to be a bigger concern for younger people, with 38% of those under 35 saying they had difficulty paying for their medicine. Only 9% of people 65 and older said they had the same problem.