Tag: ACA

Health Care Reform Law Gaining Popularity

Editor note: This article was originally published here.

An April Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that support for the health care reform law surged among respondents who said they were Democrats.

Regardless of political affiliation, opposition to the 2010 health care reform law has dropped, according to a new survey.

The poll, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found that in April 43% of respondents had a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, while 42% had an unfavorable view and 14% didn’t know.

By contrast, in January 2014, 50% of respondents had an unfavorable view of the law, while just 34% had a favorable view and 16% didn’t know.

Support for the law surged among respondents who said they were Democrats. For example, last month 70% of respondents who said they were Democrats said they had a favorable view of the health care reform law, while just 16% had an unfavorable view, and 14% didn’t know.

That’s a big pickup in support compared to January 2014 when 58% of Democratic respondents had a favorable view of the law, 26% had an unfavorable view, and 15% didn’t know.

While Republicans still overwhelmingly have an unfavorable view of the law, opposition has declined since 2014.

For example, last month, 75% of respondents who said they were Republicans said they had an unfavorable view of the law, while 16% had a favorable view, and 9% didn’t know.

By contrast, in January 2014, 81% of GOP respondents said they had an unfavorable view of the law, while 9% had a favorable view, and 10% didn’t know.

The pickup in support for the law coincides with a big improvement in a key feature of the law: the creation of public insurance exchanges in which lower-income individuals can use federal premium subsidies to purchase coverage.

In January 2014, many of the exchanges were still suffering from technology-related problems that made it difficult for applicants to smoothly choose from exchange plans and obtain coverage.

Today, those problems, observers say, have largely eased. During the latest 2015 open enrollment season, nearly 11.7 million people selected plans in the federal and state health insurance exchanges, the U.S. Department of Health and Services reported In March, a big jump over last year’s open enrollment season when just over 8 million opted for exchange coverage.

In all, 14.1 million previously uninsured adults have gained coverage due to the health care reform law since October 2013, HHS said.

The Kaiser polls are conducted by telephone and have between 1,200 and 1,500 respondents.

Healthcare Reform News: California Governor Signs Waiting Period Bill

Editor note: This article was originally published August 15, 2014 and can be found here.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law legislation to better align the state’s health coverage waiting period requirements with federal law.

While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) had established a 90-day waiting period that applies broadly to employers nationwide, California had established a 60-day waiting period. The intent of Senate Bill (SB) 1034, authored by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel), is to resolve confusion between the state and federal laws and to better conform to provisions of the ACA.

“We thank the governor for signing this bill, as it will help eliminate the confusion caused by conflicting state and federal waiting periods. Now it will be easier for employer groups to comply with the law,” stated Neil Crosby, Vice President of Public Affairs for the California Association of Health Underwriters (CAHU) and Director of Sales for Warner Pacific Insurance Services.

SB 1034 is a product of numerous discussions among state regulators, small business groups, health insurance organizations, consumer organizations and CAHU to provide clarity on the allowable waiting periods.

HSA Growth: Still Strong 10 Years Later & Poised to Grow Under ACA and Exchanges

by Chris Bettner

Editor Note: This article was written by Sterling’s EVP of Business Development Chris Bettner and published in the March 2014 edition of California Broker Magazine.

Health savings accounts (HSAs) will have the highest growth rate among all consumer driven healthcare accounts (CDH) in 2014, according to the Consumer Driven Health Care Institute (CDHCI). HSAs are expected to hit close to 21 million covered lives. By mid-2013, there are expected to be 18 million HSAs with assets hitting $18.1 billion and growing.

National carriers and economists confirm that HSAs are the product to watch in 2014. Growth in private exchanges, based on employer defined contributions, should accelerate HSA growth. The fear that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would crush HSAs has been put to rest in a private study by HSA Consulting Services (December 5, 2013). The study states conclusively that HSAs will do well on the federally run exchanges. The plans are widely available and attractively priced. HSA eligible plans are 11% less expensive than older legacy plans; and families save an average of over $1,000 a year on premiums, according a report by CDHCI. Forty-four percent of the Bronze plans are HSA compatible, a critical indicator.

Cost is not the only growth factor. The basic tenants of HDHP/HSA lead people to become savvy healthcare consumers. This has been reported for the 10 years that HSAs have been available (since 2004). People make more thoughtful decisions on their healthcare spending. This does not mean that people do not get necessary care. Quite the contrary; people ask for generic medication; use emergency rooms for true emergencies; and use preventive care services at a much higher rate than do their counterparts in other products.

The triple tax advantages of a HSA, unlike a Roth IRA, never appear as income when deducted from payroll. So people have the tax advantage of money going into the account pre-tax, growing tax-free and, when used for qualified medical expenses, being used tax-free as well. Some people with a HSA never make withdrawals to cover medical expenses. These people, Baby Boomers for the most part, consider their HSA a retirement account. Other people use the money each year to pay for their deductible expenses. That’s the beauty of a HSA. They are extremely flexible, triple tax advantaged accounts.

The investment opportunity with a HSA is only limited by IRS regulations. The instrument must be liquid (stocks, bonds, mutual funds). The ability to invest is very flexible but determined by your HSA administrator. Year-over-year growth of balances in these accounts proves that people really will walk into Medicare with a nest egg.

About Chris Bettner
With over 30 years of experience in healthcare sales and management with health insurance carriers, Chris Bettner serves as executive vice president of Business Development for Sterling Health Services Administration and was a co-founder of the company in 2004. Prior to joining Sterling, Chris was Vice President of Sales for Blue Shield of California. She held similar positions at Lifeguard, FHP, Independence Blue Cross and MetLife. Chris is also a national spokesperson on HSAs and consumer directed healthcare programs.

HSA Consulting Services Finds HSA Plans Widely Available and Attractively Priced On ACA Exchanges

Editor note: This article was originally published December 5, 2013 and can be found here.

HSA-qualified plans are widely available, attractively priced, but may be hard to identify on Federally run ACA Exchanges according to a new research report by HSA Consulting Services, a consulting firm focused on the growth of Health Savings Accounts.

HSA plans and tax-advantaged accounts have grown rapidly in their first ten years of existence and now cover more than fifteen million Americans. Many people feared that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would dampen HSA growth or even eliminate HSA options, especially in light of the Massachusetts experience, where HSAs have not been as popular.

“Our research shows that HSAs play a prominent role in the ACA exchanges, accounting for nearly 20% of total offerings,” said Todd Berkley, President of HSA Consulting Services.

According to the research, HSA plans are 11% less expensive than non-HSA plans offered on the Federally run ACA exchanges. “This will save the typical family over $1,000 per year in premium costs on average if they choose an HSA-qualified plan,” said Roy Ramthun, Founder and Advisor to HSA Consulting Services. “In some states the savings is considerably higher,” Ramthun added.

While HSA plans are widely available and attractively priced, they may be hard to identify on Healthcare.gov, because there is no way to search for an HSA plan or to verify that a plan is HSA-Qualified while on the site.

“If the exchanges survive their slow start and grow as expected, HSAs will likely grow rapidly and be among the most affordable options in the Affordable Care Act,” added John Young, a consultant to HSA Consulting Services.

To download the white paper Health Savings Account Plan Availability On Federally-Run Affordable Care Act Exchanges, visit http://www.hsaconsultingservices.com/.

Learn more about Health Savings Accounts and Sterling Health Services.

HSA-­‐qualified
plans
are
widely
available,
attractively
priced,
but
may
be
hard
to
identify
on
Federally
run
ACA
Exchanges
according
to
new
research
report
by
HSA
Consulting
Services,
a
consulting
firm
focused
on
the
growth
of
Health
Savings
Accounts.
HSA
plans
and
tax-­‐advantaged
accounts
have
grown
rapidly
in
their
first
ten
years
of
existence
and
now
cover
more
than
fifteen
million
Americans.
Many
people
feared
that
the
Affordable
Care
Act
(ACA)
would
dampen
HSA
growth
or
even
eliminate
HSA
options,
especially
in
light
of
the
Massachusetts
experience,
where
HSAs
have
not
been
as
popular.
“Our
research
shows
that
HSAs
play
a
prominent
role
in
the
ACA
exchanges,
accounting
for
nearly
20%
of
total
offerings”,
said
Todd
Berkley,
President
of
HSA
Consulting
Services.
According
to
the
research,
HSA
plans
are
11%
less
expensive
than
non-­‐HSA
plans
offered
on
the
Federally-­‐run
ACA
exchanges.
“This
will
save
the
typical
family
over
$1,000
per
year
in
premium
costs
on
average
if
they
choose
an
HSA-­‐qualified
plan”,
said
Roy
Ramthun,
Founder
and
Advisor
to
HSA
Consulting
Services.
“In
some
states
the
savings
is
considerably
higher,”
Ramthun
added.
While
HSA
plans
are
widely
available
and
attractively
priced,
they
may
be
hard
to
identify
on
Healthcare.gov,
because
there
is
no
way
to
search
for
an
HSA
plan
or
to
verify
that
a
plan
is
HSA-­‐Qualified
while
on
the
site.
“If
the
exchanges
survive
their
slow
start
and
grow
as
expected,
HSAs
will
likely
grow
rapidly
and
be
among
the
most
affordable
options
in
the
Affordable
Care
Act”,
added
John
Young,
a
consultant
to
HSA
Consulting
Services.