Yes, this is yet another report that confirms that enrolling in HSA-eligible high-deductible health plans is associated with a decline in physician visits and in high-value preventive services. This negative impact occurs across all income levels but is twice as great amongst lower-income individuals than it is for those with higher incomes.
More numbers. Moving directly to the point, HHS and others keep assuring us that the anticipated greater increase in ACA insurance premiums will not be a problem for the 85 percent of individuals who receive premium subsidies through the ACA exchanges. Well it is a problem not only for the 15 percent of individuals in the exchanges who do not receive subsidies but also for those who buy their individual plans outside of the exchanges.
Six years after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, we have achieved less than half of the goal of covering all of the uninsured – a decline from 48.6 million in 2010 to 27.3 million earlier this year. Many are celebrating this as a great success, but others do not out of concern for the 27 million who remain uninsured. Besides, there are many other observations in this report that should concern advocates of health care justice for all.
Although this study was somewhat selective and its generalizability may be limited, nevertheless, it does show that physicians spend a tremendous amount of time on work that does not involve direct clinical face time with patients. This study and other observations suggest that much of this work is related to record documentation.
Labor Day seems to be an opportune time to step back and take a look at how today’s labor force is faring. Wages are stagnant. The income and wealth inequality gap has increased in recent decades. Financial hardship is rampant. This has coincided with the suppression of unions and their bargaining power.
Although more people than ever now have health insurance, there remain intolerable deficiencies in our health care financing system that clearly demand remedy. Two associate editors of the American Journal of Public Health debate the two approaches to reforming health care: Hillary Clinton’s expansion of ACA, and Bernie Sanders” single payer reform.
Under private insurance, a person who is admitted to an in-network hospital may unavoidably or inadvertently receive care from a professional, such as an anesthetist, who is not in the insurer’s network, and thus the patient may be responsible for the entire bill rather than the insurer’s normal contracted amount. This legislation corrects that injustice by making the patient responsible only for cost sharing that is no greater than it would have been had the provider been in the network.
Health savings accounts (HSAs) have been touted by conservatives as a way of placing the health care consumers (i.e., patients) in control of their health care spending. As they say, “having skin in the game” (cringe) makes the patients more efficient health care shoppers.
As the first in a series on healthcare delivery reform, this article sets the stage by describing the profound deficiencies that remain after implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Although ACA did improve coverage and access, the authors note, “The need for more fundamental reform is clear.”
Although many readers are quite familiar with the concept of adverse selection presented here, the take-home message today is contained in the last three paragraphs of Uwe Reinhardt’s article. By relying on private insurers to control spending, we have driven per capita health care spending up to twice the average of nations with far better health care financing systems.
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