Healthcare News May 24, 2013

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Premiums lower than expected

    The Obama administration got some good news Thursday as California regulators released the estimated premiums for healthcare plans sold through the state’s insurance exchange.

    The premiums came in well below expectations, giving Democrats a strong data point to push back against fears of “rate shock” once the healthcare law takes full effect. California is the first big state to release insurers’ rates for next year, and experts were paying particular attention to the filing because of the size of the state’s market.

    A middle-of-the-road policy will cost about $300 per month, and most people who buy these policies will get a subsidy from the federal government to help pay their premiums. That comes to about $3,600 per year — hardly pocket change, but also far short of the $5,200 annual cost projected by the Congressional Budget Office.

  • Businesses share ObamaCare wellness program worries with White House

    Business groups are weighing in on an ObamaCare proposal governing incentives for employees to stay healthy.

    The White House is currently reviewing a proposed rule for wellness programs that give workers incentives to take part in healthy habits such as joining a gym, signing up for a weight-loss plan or participating in a scheme to stop smoking. The proposal is part of the Affordable Care Act. 

    Proponents say that the programs have a documented history of lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and making workers healthy. Plus, they make good business sense.

  • GOP Rep. DesJarlais fined for affairs with patients

    Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais (Tenn.), a physician, was disciplined by his state medical board for conducting affairs with patients in 2000.

    The sophomore congressman received a reprimand and a $500 fine from the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners after an ethics watchdog complained last fall. He may also be tagged with investigation costs.

    That watchdog, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), characterized DesJarlais’s penalty Thursday as a slap on the wrist. 

  • ObamaCare plans cheaper than expected in key rate filing

    New insurance policies under President Obama’s healthcare law will cost significantly less than expected in California.

    The state released rate filings Thursday for the policies that will be sold through the health law’s insurance exchange. 

    Experts had been especially eager to see California’s rates, and it is the first large state to release price information for next year.

    The average plan will carry a monthly premium of $300, regulators said. Most people will receive a subsidy to help cover part of that cost, and cheaper options are also available.

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