Reflex: September 22, 2011

Young adults gain health insurance under new law, reports N.C. Aizenman. “Nearly 1 million more young adults have obtained health insurance since the 2010 health-care law began requiring insurers to let adult children stay on their parents’ plans until age 26, according to government data released Wednesday. The jump in enrollment caused the share of young adults who are uninsured to drop from 34 percent at the start of 2010 to 30 percent… by March of this year”. Aaron’s comment: This isn’t surprising, given the census report released last week. But as we cheer the drop in uninsured in “young people” over age 18, let’s not lost focus on what is happening or could happen totruly young people, under the age of 18.

Firms’ health care costs will rise at the lowest rate in over a decade, reports Duke Helfand (LA Times). According to a study by Mercer, companies’ health care costs will rise 5.4% next year, the lowest rate of increase since 1997. They still outpace growth in earnings. The explanation: increasing deductibles, the avoidance of care in a bad economy, employee education, and risk identification, Mercer says. Austin’s comment: Some of these improve health and lower costs, at least in the short term. Others shift costs to individuals, likely causing them to cut back on both effective and ineffective care

Administration needs more time before changing care approach for dual-eligibles, writes Rich Daly. There are numerous cost and quality issues related to caring for persons who are covered by Medicare and Medicaid. CMS wants more time to study the options before making a change. Don’s comment: It is clear there are cost and quality concerns about the care of dual eligibles. I have suggested that the Medicaid costs of the duals should be federalized, making Medicare responsible for all their care. Ken Thorpe has a new study suggesting moving dual eligibles into private plans. The basic goal of both ideas is to make one payer responsible for all of the care of the dual eligibles, increasing incentives to reduce cost while improving quality.


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