Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Westhill Consulting - Obamacare

Is 'Obamacare' like Canada's health-care system? 'Not even close,' according to critics  

The first major U.S. health-care reform passed in nearly 50 years is the Obamacare but regardless of critics passing judgment on "Obamacare" as "Canadian-style" health insurance, critics note that major differences between the two systems persist.
The U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which went into effect earlier this week, is "not even close" to the Canadian system says McGill University Professor of Political Science Antonia Maioni.
"Obamacare keeps in place the basic principle of health care in the United States which is: if you want to get access to care you need to buy insurance coverage," she told CTV News Channel on Friday.

"Obamacare is trying to make it easier for people to be able to buy that insurance coverage and, if you are very poor, to be able to qualify for a government program. But it doesn't have the same principle as in Canada, where if you are a legal resident, you are automatically enrolled in a provincial or territorial health plan."
In an op-ed published in the Globe and Mail, Maioni said the major differences between "Obamacare" and Canada's health-care system include:
"Obamacare" is not a single-payer system (where one entity, usually the government, pays all costs)
Care depends on the type of insurance coverage you buy
Insurance coverage varies by state
Wait times are based on the level of insurance coverage
Obamacare" faces challenges in cost control
Maioni said that while "Obamacare" was passed, in part, to address American spending on health care – the highest in the world at nearly 18 per cent of GDP, or $3 trillion – the act remains "problematic."
"There's nothing in it that speaks to really serious cost control," she said.
She furthermore said that while Canada also spends a lot on health care, there are mechanisms that the provinces can use to contain spending.
"Governments can negotiate fees with providers, governments can set global budgets for hospitals," she said. "There's a lot of politicking and controversy around that, but at least there's some measures of control for the government. In the United States, those measures are not there."
While "Obamacare" does try to better regulate insurers and provide ways for the government to tighten Medicare – the government program for the elderly and the disabled -- "there's no real facing up to the cost wall," she said.
She added that while the act will make it easier for Americans to buy affordable insurance, there are still "prevalent" gaps in the system.


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Westhill Consulting Healthcare - A Few Persistent Iowans Manage to Buy Health Insurance On Crash

A few persistent Iowans manage to buy health insurance on crash-plagued Obamacare exchange

There were at least five strangely determined Iowans have dealt with signing up for health insurance on the government’s balky new online marketplace.

They were the Hardy Handful.  It seems that they were eager to wait through endless holdups and to try, try again after constantly being booted off the system.  They had enrolled in insurance plans sold on the public marketplace by CoOportunity Health.

“They threaded the needle and got in,” said Cliff Gold, the insurance carrier’s chief operating officer. “It’s like when a radio station says, ‘If you’re the 20th caller, you’ll win something.’ These people were the 20th caller.”

Two of the unidentified purchasers are from Iowa City, two are from Glidden and one is from Clive, Gold said.

Also called exchanges, the health-insurance marketplaces are a key part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.  Since they opened Oct. 1, they have been plagued with technical problems.  Iowa’s exchange is using a federal website,, which has been beset with delays and crashes.  Federal officials have blamed the glitches on an unexpected surge of millions of consumers trying to use the system at once.  But some computer experts have said the problems are at least partly due to technical flaws in the site.  Federal officials are pledging to fix the issues as quickly as possible.

Gold said he is encouraged by the fact that a few people are getting through. He likened the situation to trying to start a care on a frigid winter morning. “At first, it just turns over. Then it kicks in,” he said. “Well, it’s kicked in, but it’s still cold inside the car.”

CoOportunity Health is one of two carriers selling individual policies throughout Iowa on the new exchange.  Gold said the company confirmed today that at least five Iowans and nine Nebraskans had selected its policies via the new system.  The other statewide Iowa carrier, Coventry, declined to say whether it had sold any Iowa policies on the new system.

Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart said CoOportunity’s news was encouraging. “Hopefully the system issues will begin to subside as more Iowans go online to enroll in the coming weeks,” he said.

They are the only place to buy insurance policies that qualify for new federal subsidies; this is one of the main attractions of the exchanges.  The subsidies will aid Americans with moderate incomes pay premiums.  A lot of officials have been advising consumers to hang around another week or two before trying to get on the systems, so the bugs can be worked out.  Consumers have until Dec. 15 to sign up for policies that will take effect Jan. 1, and they will have until March 31 to buy policies that will count toward the new requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance for 2014.