On a trip to California on Friday, President Obama is all set to put to rest fears about The Affordable Care Act.
California - with the highest population, is crucial for the success of Obama's health care policy as millions of Americans will sign up for health insurance on 1st of October.
AdvertisementSupporters of Obamacare felt the cost of policies were lower than anticipated; though the opponents vetoed this as they felt the insurance would turn out to be more expensive. Joseph Antos, a health policy expert with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank felt the people below poverty level would benefit as they were eligible for government subsidies. "It's going to be the one's further up who end up paying. It's also the taxpayer who is going to end up picking up the cost of the subsidies that are going to be offered nationwide," he said. There are 6 million uninsured residents in California and the state developed its own health exchange.
"Implementation needs momentum and creating momentum in California is a really good move for them. It's a large market and a positive media market for the President. He's going to get coverage when he goes to California. And what they need to do right now is amp up the visibility around implementation," said Dan Mendelson, chief executive of research firm Avalere Health.
The California state exchange - Covered California - had given 13 companies like Anthem Blue Cross of California, WellPoint Inc. and some smaller companies too, the go ahead to sell plans on the health exchange. Rates would range from 2% - 29% for small employer plans and $40 - $300 for mid level plans - depending on subsidies. "Obviously, there is more work to do on affordability. Even in the best of circumstances, health insurance isn't cheap," said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a statewide consumer advocacy coalition.
According to Healthcare policy expert - Avik Roy, the rates were rising as much as 146% for some people as compared for individual plans in California. President Obama will defend the affordability of insurance in the California exchange - during his speech in San Jose.
Enrollment is essential for the success of these insurance exchanges as the government seeks to get millions of Americans to sign up and provide a diverse enough risk pool to make the insurance competitive. The government will pay subsidies to people who earn less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level. "It's premature right now for people to be figuring out whether they can afford this," said Linda Blumberg, health economist at the Urban Institute.
Marketing of insurance plans are expected to begin in July and Blumberg hopes essential benefits like maternity cover and pre-existing illness covers, subsidized insurance will be big draws to bring in customers. It is difficult to make comparisons before all the 4 tier health exchange products are in place.
"The policies are different - generally more comprehensive. They offer better coverage, less out of pocket costs," said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
Caroline Humer and Deena Beasley, June 2013
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