Americans Saved Billions Thanks to the Affordable Care Act – And Medical Loss Rebates Are On the Way

According to a new report, Americans buying individual market health insurance saved $1.2 billion in 2011 and $2.1 billion in 2012 because law has begun to hold insurance companies accountable.

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to spend 80 to 85 percent of premium dollars on medical care and health care quality improvement, rather than on administrative costs. If they don’t, the insurance companies must provide a rebate to their customers. Last year, over 13 million consumers received $1.1 billion in rebates – the average consumer rebate was around $151.

Today a new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation provides the most complete look yet at the benefits of the policy. In addition to rebates from insurers who are charging more for overhead than care (those with medical loss ratios below 80 percent), the report estimates the savings that resulted from insurers exceeding 80 percent, who provided more value for each consumer dollar than history shows they otherwise would have.

The study found that the average medical loss ratio went from 78 percent in the individual market in 2010 to 83 percent in 2012 in the individual market. Had medical loss ratios remained at 2010 levels, premiums would have been much higher than they actually were. Combining these savings from better medical loss ratios with rebates, the Kaiser analysis estimates that the 80 / 20 rule yielded $3.2 billion in lower health care costs to consumers – not counting savings to employers’ health plans.

And the 2012 rebates for consumers are on their way. While final rebate totals are still being tallied, some States are reporting early results. According to the Los Angeles Times, so far, insurers in California will provide rebates totaling $44.5 million by August. For example, Blue Shield of California will provide $24.5 million in rebates to 29,000 small businesses with 90,000 enrollees. Kaiser Permanente will provide $2.7 million to 66,000 enrollees in the individual market

In addition to these rebates, consumers are also seeing the type of premium savings that the Kaiser report describes. According to The Tennessean, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee provided its enrollees with rebates of $8.6 million for 2011 because its medical loss ratio was 76.6 percent for individual policy holders. However, in 2012, it improved its medical loss ratio to 83.1 percent – providing significantly more health care and quality for their consumers’ dollars.

In the coming month, the Department of Health and Human Services will report on the final rebates for 2012 which insurers must provide by August 1, 2013. And later this summer, we’ll add to the early results of health care law’s rate review policy that requires insurers to justify double-digit rate increases: according to data from the beginning of the year, the proportion of proposed rate increases of 10 percent or more dropped from 75 percent in 2010 to 14 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, today’s report is yet another reminder of how the health care law is working to lower health care costs for American people.

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President Obama and Sandra Fluke Speak Out for Women’s Health

President Obama held a grassroots event in Denver, Colorado yesterday, with Sandra Fluke at his side. Fluke, is a Georgetown University student who was verbally attacked by radical right-wing media personalities like Rush Limbaugh and other Republican extremists for speaking out for women’s health. Fluke  joined the President in Denver, where they highlighted how health reform has helped women get access to the care they need.

Thanks to Obamacare:

  • Over 868,600 women will now have access to free preventive care. That means things like mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer and pap smears are available to women without any cost-sharing.
  • Over 22,100 Colorado women who find themselves in the Medicare doughnut hole coverage gap will have received a discount on their prescription drugs, saving them an average of $577 each.
  • On August 1, insurance companies began to cover eight new women’s health services — including contraception, well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, and more.

Join Women for Obama. Then watch and share today’s video.

Annie Burkey on Obamacare: “I have a second chance at life.”

Annie Burkey survived an extremely rare form of cancer and without Obamacare she runs the risk of not being covered in the future due to her pre-existing conditions.

Now with a second chance at life; she’s taking nothing for granted. After hearing President Obama speak on Planned Parenthood she started volunteering in Colorado. Now she’s a Summer Organizer.

As Annie shares, “My favorite part of volunteering for the campaign is meeting people. And really just having really wonderful conversations with people. I think that’s how things change”

Watch and share today’s video.

33 Reasons Why Republicans Shouldn’t Have Voted to Repeal ‘Obamacare’ for the 33rd Time

President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010, helping make sure that millions of Americans can finally have health insurance. Since then, Republicans have voted to repeal part or all of Obamacare 33 times.

That’s 33 attempts to scrap health reform without offering a single idea on how to replace the law and still make coverage affordable and more secure. As a leader of the GOP, Mitt Romney has promised to “kill” Obamacare on day one, if elected.

To remind Romney and Republicans of what’s at stake, here are 33 reasons why repealing Obamacare would be bad news for the middle class:

  1. Seniors in the Medicare “doughnut hole” are saving an average of $600 each on prescription drugs.
  2. Many small businesses that provide health insurance are eligible for tax credits that can currently reduce their health care costs by as much as 35 percent, and will increase to 50 percent in 2014.
  3. Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to the up to 17 million kids with pre-existing conditions like Jackson Coffman.
  4. Stacey Lihn and 105 million Americans—including almost 60 percent of people with insurance from their employer—saw a lifetime cap on their coverage lifted.
  5. More than 5 million people with Medicare have saved money on their prescription drugs.
  6. Starting in 2014, being a woman will no longer be considered a pre-existing condition.
  7. The law extends the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by eight years.
  8. Hospitals have new resources to prevent infections and unnecessary readmissions, which could save $35 billion, and more importantly, 60,000 lives.
  9. Insurance companies have to spend 80 percent of our premiums dollars on actual care, and if they don’t, Americans get a rebate check. This rule will provide nearly 12.8 million Americans with more than $1 billion in rebates this year.
  10. 3.1 million young people like Emily Schlichting who would otherwise be uninsured have coverage under their parents’ plan.
  11. The law is the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history.
  12. Insurance companies are finally banned from cancelling coverage based on paperwork mistakes.
  13. Seniors with Medicare can now get a free, annual checkup with their doctor.
  14. The National Health Service Corps is now placing more doctors in nurses in communities that need more health care professionals.
  15. More than 67,000 people—many with life-threatening illnesses—have coverage through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.
  16. Doctors and nurses can better coordinate the care they provide.
  17. Soon, if you don’t get coverage at work, you’ll be able to shop in a new Affordable Insurance Exchange.
  18. If you like the health coverage you have, you can keep it.
  19. The law cracks down on Medicare fraud.
  20. If your insurance company tries to deny coverage for treatment you need, you have the right to appeal their decision.
  21. Insurance plans have to cover preventive care for women like mammograms, and soon well-woman visits, without any copays or deductibles.
  22. People with disabilities have better options to get home and community-based care.
  23. Medicare provided more than 6 million free mammograms in 2011 because of Obamacare.
  24. Insurance companies that want to hike up rates have to explain their actions to independent experts.
  25. The Prevention and Public Health Fund is helping states and communities invest in preventing disease before it starts.
  26. The law funds new School Based Health Centers to keep students healthy.
  27. Hundreds of new Community Health Center facilities are being built and renovated because of Obamacare.
  28. Insurance companies have to let you choose a primary care doctor from within the network, and let you see an OB/GYN without a referral.
  29. Regular pediatricians visits and immunizations for your kids are now covered with no copays or deductibles.
  30. Medicare pays primary care providers a new bonus payment so seniors have better access to their doctors.
  31. The law provides new tools to fight health disparities.
  32. A new insurance finder at HealthCare.gov helps families and small businesses find affordable coverage now.
  33. In just eighteen months, all Americans will have access to affordable health care coverage, so 30 million people will gain health insurance.

These are just some of the ways Obamacare is strengthening health coverage. Every time Republicans revel in empty political attacks on health care reform, they trivialize the health and economic security of everyone who needs—and deserves—affordable, quality health care.

House Republicans have wasted your tax dollars with 33 failed attempts to repeal Obamacare. Hold them accountable.

Karl Rove’s Super PAC Ad Distorts Health Care Law

Karl Rove’s conservative super PAC, Crossroads Generation, released an ad attacking President Obama’s health care reform law. Its fast-talking narrator tries to mislead young Americans by making several false claims about the law and how it helps them access affordable, quality health insurance.

Here are the facts about what health reform does for young people and what they could lose if Romney repeals Obamacare:

  • The Affordable Care Act enables young Americans to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they’re 26 years old. The ad falsely dismisses this popular provision by arguing that states already allowed young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance before the law was enacted. The facts, however, tell a different story. While some states had pre-existing laws on the books, broad-based restrictions—including age limits, requirements for student status, and exclusions for married young adults—rendered the majority of young adults ineligible for coverage. In fact, the pre-existing state laws did not even apply to the 60 percent of U.S. workers who rely on private self-insured plans. President Obama’s health care reform eliminated these restrictions and extended coverage to 3.1 million young people who would otherwise be uninsured. As a result of the law, the proportion of insured adults ages 19 through 25 has increased to nearly 75 percent.
  • Repealing the Affordable Care Act would allow insurance companies to deny coverage to children and adults with pre-existing conditions. While the ad attempts to distort and dismiss this central part of the law, the fact is that the President’s health care reform prevents insurers from denying coverage to children under age 19 with pre-existing conditions, of whom there are as many as 17 million. Starting in 2014, no American with a pre-existing condition can be denied coverage, charged higher premiums, or be subject to other discriminatory actions. Romney, on the other hand, would allow insurance companies to kick young adults off their parents’ plans when they graduate, discriminate against Americans with pre-existing conditions, and charge women higher premiums than they charge men for the same coverage. Romney’s campaign has even admitted that his plan would allow insurance companies to discriminate against as many as 129 million children and adults with pre-existing conditions from asthma to breast cancer.
  • Health care reform works to make health care premiums more affordable for middle class families. In its attempt to bash the law, the ad notes that “premiums are already up 9 percent.” This statistic is misleading because the premium increases of 9 percent for 2011 were generally set in 2010, when insurers thought medical costs would be significantly higher. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the health insurance employer cost index was the lowest in over 10 years in the first half of 2011. In 2014, annual premiums are projected to fall compared to what they would be without the Affordable Care Act, with savings of up to $2,300 for families purchasing through exchanges. Analysts predict that premium growth should slow after 2014 because of the law, predicting $2,000 in family savings by 2019, and the Congressional Budget Office projected savings of 14 to 20 percent through exchanges and new rules in the market.
  • The Affordable Care Act lowers health care costs for millions of Americans through health insurance exchanges, caps on out-of-pocket payments, tax credits, and expanded access to Medicaid. The law will cap how much those covered in the health insurance exchanges will have to pay out-of-pocket for health services covered in the law’s essential benefits package. Beginning in 2014, many individuals and families will be eligible for a new health care premium tax credit to help them afford insurance purchased through an Affordable Insurance Exchange—and a typical middle class family will see their costs cut by 60 percent when using these tax credits in the Exchange. And health care reform expands Medicaid to cover nearly everyone under 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

The ad’s distortions are part of a concerted effort by Republicans to use false, unsubstantiated claims to mislead the public about the nature of President Obama’s health care reform. That’s not the conversation that the Romney campaign—or the anonymous billionaire donors bankrolling this misleading advertisement—wants to have. The plain-and-simple fact is that Romney would gut health care reform and deny coverage to millions of Americans.

Affordable Care Act Helps Improve Access to High Quality, Coordinated Care

Yesterday, the Department of Heath and Human Services announced that 219 community health centers received another $128.6 million to help them expand their reach, supporting approximately 5,460 jobs and serve 1.25 million additional patients.

Today’s announcement is one in a series of efforts to make our community health centers stronger. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, community health centers around the country have received new resources to expand capacity and improve care for their patients.

Community health centers across the nation are leveraging improved access to community-based health care services and health information technology through the Affordable Care Act to help patients just like this one. This work is making a difference. In just two years, Erie Family Health Center reduced the number of patients with uncontrolled diabetes by 6 percent, a clinically significant improvement in care.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions more Americans will get better health care in the communities they call home. HHS Secretary Sebelius has held living room discussions with people around the country to discuss health care. During the discussions, providers have had the chance to speak about how the Affordable Care Act is benefiting their communities.

Today’s video is a snapshot of these conversations.