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Tag: ACA Database

Please support Charles Gaba at ACASignups

By CHARLES GABA

It’s pretty rare that I ask THCB readers to go over to another blog and support that blog with money BUT, today is the day to do that. Charles Gaba has been THE leading source of information about exactly who is signing up for ACA plans on which exchange, and what impact on the ACA Trump et al have had. He’s not in academia, not on some big company or foundation payroll, just a one man band web designer who has basically torpedoed his own business to deliver what I think is a vital service. I support him and anyone interested in health policy could do a lot worse than shove a few bucks a year his way. Read on for his story & how you can helpMatthew Holt

On October 11th, 2013, I posted the following in a blog entry over at Daily Kos, where I’d been a regular contributor since 2003:

“Seriously, though, HHS should really start releasing the official (accurate) numbers of actual signups for all 50 states (or at the very least, the 36 states that they’re responsible for) on a daily–or at least, weekly–basis. I don’t care if it’s a pitifully small number. 100,000? 10,000? 100? 10? Even if it’s in single digits, release the damned numbers. Be upfront about it. Everyone knows by now how f***** up the website is, so be honest and just give out the accurate numbers as they come in.”

Two days later, on October 13th, I registered “ObamacareSignups.net” (which soon changed to ACASignups.net, not because I had a problem with “Obamacare” but because it was easier to type) and posted an announcement over at dKos, asking for some crowdsourcing assistance.

This was supposed to be just a lark…a six-month thing which would combine my passion for data analysis, politics and website development into one nerdy hobby.

Instead…well, if you’ve been following my work for any length of time, you know the rest of the story. ACASignups.net soon caught the attention of major media outlets, and it’s been cited and used as a resource ever since by media outlets spanning the ideological spectrum including the Washington Post, Forbes, Bloomberg News, Vox.com, MSNBC, the New Republic, USA Today, the CATO Institute, National Review Online and The New York Times among others, and has even received a mention (albeit an obscure one) in prominent medical journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet.

For awhile I pretended that this was still a “hobby”…I accepted donations, sure, and even slapped some banner ads on the site to drum up a few bucks, but in my mind, I was still officially a website developer…even though I was spending 90% of my time posting updates here instead of maintaining my business. In April 2014, at the peak of the media attention and insanity over the crazy first open enrollment period, I even came down with a nasty case of shingles whch laid me up for over a month. I was in denial for years even as the business suffered, constantly thinking that as soon as this Open Enrollment Period was over, I’d wrap things up…

My ass was effectively saved by Markos and the Daily Kos community that year, who collectively raised enough money to not only make up for my lost business in 2014, but also to allow me to keep the site operating through 2015 as well. I’m eternally grateful for that support.

In the fall of 2016, things came to a head and I realized that I could no longer continue living with one foot in each world: I had to either mothball this site and refocus my efforts on building my web development business back up…or I had to try and earn a living at it.

At the time–and I swear on my life this is true–I was planning on doing the former. My reasoning was simple: If Hillary Clinton had become President, there probably wouldn’t be that much interest in my work here going forward. There’d still be plenty of healthcare stuff to write about, but the ACA would be safely embedded into the American landscape and interest in the day to day minutiae of its developments would fade over time.Continue reading…

Random Evil Policy Cancellations

Suspicious in Michigan writes:

flying cadeuciiI am really upset. Our ACA coverage was cancelled without my knowledge or permission. When I contacted the help line I was informed that I had cancelled the policy myself, which is ridiculous!  During a conference call with BCBSM and the marketplace, I was told that only a consumer could cancel a policy.  Since neither myself nor my wife would have cancel I inquired what proof did they (the marketplace) have to verify it was in fact one of us that cancelled the policies.  They don’t have that capability in their system. …   The Market Place needs to be able to document who, when and where and the phone number used in canceling a policy.  I can assure you we never had anything to do with effecting a policy cancelation.  This needs to be investigated.  Has anyone else experienced the Healthcare Marketplace canceling their policy especially with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan?  Please respond.

Paper EOBs? Please Make Them Stop!

flying cadeucii

This one is important.  Maggie writes in to ask:

When I had Premera Blue Cross (Washington state), I could opt-out of receiving paper EOBs. I received a email when an EOB was available and I viewed it online. Now I have MA BC/BS, and I do not have that option, and I can’t get anyone to tell me why?  The EOB is available online. I dislike paper EOBs – lots of wasted space, and I have to put them thru the shredder before I can recycle them …

Unlucky In Coverage

Unlucky in Coverage writes from the Southwest:

I am self-insured. I was quite pleased last year when I had a chance to purchase health insurance through the Federal Marketplace because my new plan was significantly less expensive and more comprehensive than the coverage I had previously. However, I just learned that my (Gold Plan) insurance is jumping from $399 to $508 a month – that’s 29%! I’ve been reading reports that the average rate increases are only a few percentage points but all of those studies are based on the lowest-priced Silver Plans.

Continue reading…

Help With Covered California

JOE wrote THCB with an interesting question that could be an outlier or could be significant:

Do you know of a consulting firm or advisory firm that can assist me in applying for insurance through Covered California? When I applied for insurance through the Covered California website, they gave me a list of places where I can get assistance. The phone numbers go to dead voice mail boxes or don’t work at all.  I am willing to pay for assistance from somebody that understands the system.

Halbig corpus interruptus

In more stunning proof that America’s 18th century style governing process just doesn’t work, a subset of a regional Federal court ruled against part of Obamacare. The Halbig ruling is certain to be overturned by the full DC court and then probably will stay that way after it makes it’s way through the Supremes–at least Jonathan Cohn thinks so.

But think about what the Halbig ruling is about. Its proponents say that when Congress (well, just the Senate actually as it was their version of the bill that passed) designed the ACA, they wanted states only to run exchanges and only people buying via states to get subsidies. But that they also wanted a Federal exchange for those states that couldn’t or (as it turned out) wouldn’t create their own. But apparently they meant that subsidies wouldn’t be available on the Federal exchange. That would just sail through Logic 101 at any high school. Well only if the teacher was asleep, as apparently most Senators were.

Now two judges interpret what was written down to imply that subsidies should only be available on state exchanges–even though logic, basic common sense and fairness would dictate that if we’re going to subsidize health insurance we should do it for everyone regardless of geography.

Don’t forget that in the House version of the bill there was only a Federal exchange. Continue reading…

Are Payors Changing What They Pay For Medical Billing Codes To Adjust For Supply and Demand?

Startup Mojo from Rhode Island writes:

Hey there, maybe THCB readers can weigh in on this one. I work at a healthcare startup. Somebody I know who works in medical billing told me that several big name insurers they know of are using analytics to adjust reimbursement rates for  medical billing codes on an almost daily and even hourly basis (a bit like the travel sites and airlines do to adjust for supply and demand) and encourage/discourage certain codes.  If that’s true, its certainly fascinating and pretty predictable, I guess.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. It sounds draconian. On the other hand,  it also sounds cool. Everybody else is doing the same sort of stuff with analytics: why not insurers? Information on this practice would obviously be useful for providers submitting claims, who might theoretically be able to game the system by timing when and how they submit. Is there any data out there on this?

Is this b.s. or not?

Lost in the health care maze? Having trouble with your health Insurance? Confused about your treatment options? Email your questions to THCB’s editors. We’ll run the good ones as posts.

Now I Have Insurance. But I Can’t Use It. What Am I Supposed to Do?

A THCB Reader in New York City writes in to say —

“I am a self employed psychotherapist in New York City. I had health insurance through December 31st when my policy was canceled.

I bought an ACA policy in mid-November and had to fight to obtain my insurance identification number the entire first week of January. I did not receive my id number until January 9th.

Now, I still can’t use the insurance — even though I have an id number — because none of the doctors that I know who are actually taking the insurance have been placed on Blue Cross’s website as being in the ACA plan network.

Thus, I can’t change my primary care and I can’t get a referral for my pain management specialist (I have nerve damage in my spine due to a surgical complication). So, I have an insurance policy but I can’t see my doctors who have decided to take the ACA insurance. I essentially have purchased insurance that I cannot use at the present time and I don’t know when I will be able to use it unless I go to the few doctors they have put into their system.

I have been talking to the New York State Department of Health and so far, their aid if you will call it that, has been useless. I am still left with having to pay out of pocket to see my pain management doctor onJanuary 15, 2014.

This is something no one is talking about — that those of us who were insured, who have tried to keep some doctors, who have inquired and found doctors who say they are taking the insurance — that utilizing these new policies due to referral requirements is next to impossible.
Many of the doctors listed on their networks do not exist. I have called many of them. My guess is this will be talked about in two to three months when more people find they can’t use their policies. BUT NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT IT NOW and it’s driving me crazy because it is happening now.

The government representatives I have contacted and asked for help are of no help. They have no plan in place to deal with these problems and they don’t appear to think the problem of not being able to see your doctor is important enough to deal with. Since it’s not happening to them, well, you know….”
If you have questions about the Affordable Care Act or your buying insurance on the federal state exchanges, drop us a a note. We’ll publish the good submissions.

What Exactly Are Insurers Canceling? And Why?

A THCB reader in New York writes in:

There is one aspect of the ACA that isn’t being discussed a lot, but is pertinent to the future landscape of health care in this country — the extent to which the ACA is causing a sort of reset, or wiping of the slate, when it comes to insurance policies and procedures.

Previously, there were multiple insurers and multiple policies, many of which had been around for a long time.  If an insurer wanted to suddenly change providers in its network, ratchet down provider reimbursement, alter covered procedures or make other adjustments, this was feasible, but too much of a change would entail an outcry limiting insurers’ freedom of action.  The overall system had a certain air of stability or inertia, making any changes stand out, any big changes cause for scrutiny and possibly rebellion.

Now, with the ACA, everything is being tossed up in the air and when things land, much can and will be different.  Some changes are mandated by the ACA, such as minimum coverage, and insurers are cancelling inadequate policies, substituting very different ones.  But even when a policy doesn’t need to be changed, insurers will justify change by pointing to the ACA.

“Given the requirements of the ACA, we must make certain changes to your policy. In particular…”

We are at the beginning of a totally new insurance landscape, even if most of the insurers remain the same.  The public has been primed to expect major change and insurance companies will certainly make use of this expectation.

The result is likely to be more restrictive networks, decreased reimbursements to providers and other measures to limit cost.  Everything is now up for grabs.

If you have questions about the Affordable Care Act or your buying insurance on the federal state exchanges, drop us a a note. We’ll publish the good submissions.

Overcharged 38000% !!!

Pretty Grumpy in NC writes in :

I am writing this letter as a complaint about medical charges from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, which I think is excessive.

I would like to point out that I got excellent care during my stay at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. I am questioning charges in total of $763.50. I received my bill for my hospital stay for surgery on June 10, 2013. I noticed a charge categorized as “Cast Room” of $763.50. I called the billing department and asked for an itemized bill.

I received the itemized bill and discovered that the “Cast Room” bill was really a daily charge of $254.50 for “Basic Frame with trapeze”. I called about this charge and learned that it was the bar above the bed attached to foot of bed to the head of the bed along with a trapeze handle. This item is used to help get up out of bed.

I think these charges are excessive.

I contacted a local home health equipment company to see what the charge would be if I rented this piece of equipment, and they told me the same item is $20 per month! This just seems unbelievable that a hospital can charge over 38000% above the price I can get this equipment for my home.

Continue reading…