Healthy Consumers Will Pay More for Insurance

Healthy Consumers Will Pay More for Insurance

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Healthy Americans may see their insurance rates double or triple under the new exchanges set up through Obamacare, while the new law will make health care more affordable for sick consumers, according to a new analysis of rates in eight states by The Wall Street Journal. The Journal says the exchanges aren’t likely going to offer the cut-rate policies healthy people can currently buy. At the same time, many sick consumers who previously faced astronomical premiums may see more affordable plans.

"A review of rates proposed by carriers in eight states shows the likely boundaries for the least-expensive and most costly plans on the exchanges. The lower boundary is particularly important because the government wants to attract healthy people to the exchanges, and they may choose to pay a penalty and take the risk of going without coverage if they believe they can't get an acceptable deal,” The Wall Street Journal’s Louise Radnofsky writes. “For a 40-year-old single nonsmoker - in the middle of the age range eligible for exchanges - a 'bronze' plan covering about 60 percent of medical costs will be available for about $200 a month in most places, the proposals show.” -  Read more at The Wall Street Journal

COSTLIEST EXPENSE FOR HEALTH INSURERS: CHILDBIRTH   Childbirth is the single biggest category of hospital payouts for most commercial insurers and state Medicaid programs, a new analysis by Truven Health Analytics for The New York Times shows.

The analysis shows that from 2004 to 2010, the prices that insurers paid for childbirth rose 49 percent for vaginal births to about $18,329 and 41 percent to about $27,866 for Caesarean sections in the United States.  The New York Times’ Elisabeth Rosenthal writes “ The cumulative costs of approximately four million annual births is well over $50 billion. And though maternity care costs far less in other developed countries than it does in the United States, studies show that their citizens do not have less access to care or to high-tech care during pregnancy than Americans. -  Read more at The New York Times

HERE’S HOW SMALL BIZ CAN DODGE OBAMACARE    From scaling back workers’ hours to cutting jobs, business owners are finding creative ways to get around offering coverage to their employees under Obamacare. The Fiscal Times’ Eric Pianin and David Francis talked to some experts and business owners and rounded up their cost-saving strategies. -  See them here

GOV ROLLS OUT PROGRAM TO SAVE TROUBLED BORROWERS   Thousands of struggling borrowers with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who are behind on payments at least 90 days will be able to breathe a sigh of relief this week as the Federal Housing Finance Agency rolls out a new program that will help reduce their monthly payments and help them get back on track.  

Through the Streamlined Modification Initiative—which lasts until August 2015--- lenders will lower the borrower’s monthly payments by extending the term of the loan (typically from 30 to 40 years) and reducing the interest rates. For example, modifying a 30-year $200,000 loan with a 5.5 percent rate to a 40- year-term  with a 4 percent rate reduces the monthly payment to $835 from $1,135. 

To qualify, borrowers can’t be more than 24 months behind on their payments and their principal balances must be at 80 percent of more the value of their homes. FHFA has not disclosed how many borrowers it expects to enroll in the program, however it claims to have helped 2.7 million keep their homes through previous foreclosure prevention efforts. -  Read more at CNN Money

DATA TO WATCH THIS WEEK    Lawmakers skipped town this week for the 4th of July holiday, but that doesn’t mean things are completely slowing down in Washington. Four data sets will be unveiled this week to give experts a better idea of how the economy is shaping up---here’s what you need to watch for:

Monday: Manufacturing --- The Institute for Supply Management issues its monthly survey of manufacturing purchasing managers at 10 a.m.  Analysts expect the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), which measures the relative level of business conditions (employment, production, new orders, prices) to expand to 50.5 from 49.0 in May.

Tuesday: Autos---The world’s big 8 automakers will release their U.S. June sales numbers Tuesday afternoon. Experts expect the seasonally adjusted annual rate, or SAAR, of auto sales -- to be about 15.6 million units. Overall U.S. unit sales of cars and light trucks in June could be about 1.36 million, down from 1.44 million in May.

Friday: Jobs---The Labor Department’s monthly jobs report will come out at 8:30 a.m. Analysts are expecting a solid gain of 175K new jobs and a drop in the unemployment rate to 7.5 percent. -  Read more at The Wall Street Journal


Brianna Ehley is the former Washington Correspondent for The Fiscal Times. She is currently a reporter on Politico's health care team in Washington, D.C.