5 Reasons Healthcare is Different from Every Other Commodity (And Why this Matters for the Debate Over Repealing Obamacare)

This article by Nicholas Grossman originally appeared on Extra Newsfeed. It is republished here with permission.

Defending the role of markets in healthcare, Ben Shapiro argues that healthcare is a commodity, not a right.

Philosophically, he’s correct. Providing healthcare requires resources, and resources are inherently limited.

By contrast, rights — such as Locke’s life, liberty, and property — are free. They come from nature, God, the inherent dignity of a human being. Protecting rights requires resources only when other people try to take them away.

But healthcare doesn’t come from nature. It comes from doctors, nurses, hospitals, drugs, and medical devices.

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Op-Ed: Government Agencies Can Make Prescription Drugs More Affordable

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Two days ago on Vox, Sarah Cliff and Soo Oh posted a compelling article (America’s Health Care Prices Are Out Of Control. These 11 Charts Prove It.) where they demonstrate the costs of health care in the US versus other parts of the world, including Switzerland, the UK, Spain, and Australia. Through 11 charts, the authors compare prices of prescription drugs and hospital services such as giving birth, knee replacement, and spending a day in the hospital. Continue reading

PCORI Fees Due July 31st For Self-Funded Health Plans

The Affordable Care Act requires all self-funded health plans to pay an annual fee to help fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. Called the “PCORI” fee, payment is due on July 31st.  As the “plan sponsor”, in most cases, the employer is the party responsible for making payment.

The PCORI fee helps pay for federal research into the comparative effectiveness of treatment options (“evidence-based medicine”).  The purpose is to help lower the cost of health care and, therefore, health insurance. The PCORI fee is scheduled to “sunset” (i.e. end) in 2019.

For plan years ending before October 1, 2016, the fee is $2.17 per “covered life” (i.e. insured employees and dependents).  There are several approved methods for determining the average number of covered lives.  Complete details can be found on the IRS website at:

https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/patient-centered-outcomes-research-institute-fee

Use Part II of IRS Form 720, the Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return form, for reporting.

Don’t Discount Discount Cards

How do you know if you are being charged a fair price when you go to the pharmacy to pick up that medicine your doctor prescribed? Prescription drug pricing is far from transparent. That little bottle with those sometimes insanely expensive pills arrives in your medicine cabinet through a complicated supply chain that stretches from the pharmaceutical company that makes the drug through something called a Pharmacy Benefit Manager (“PBM”) to your local or mail-order pharmacy. Continue reading

Do You Have A High Deductible Health Plan? It May Cost Even More Than You Think.

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Today’s health insurance plans increasingly come with high deductibles. Many people, however, do not understand that the deductible is only part of what they may have to pay when they use their health insurance.

The more important number to focus on is the annual “out-of-pocket maximum”. After you have satisfied your deductible, your policy may require you to shoulder additional costs in the form of coinsurance, copays and facility access fees. Continue reading

Small Contributions, Big Dividends: Introducing AffinityChoice

AffinityChoice Logo with Gold Line_YBYCEveryone these days seems to be trying to sell employers on “voluntary” benefit plans.  “You can offer a plan at no cost to you”, is the pitch by the ubiquitous sales representatives from Aflac and other similar insurance companies who regularly knock on your door.

 But the reality is that employees see through that.  They don’t perceive such programs as an employee benefit at all.  Employee-pay-all plans deliver little or nothing to enhance employee satisfaction.  The common perception is simply that someone is trying to sell them some insurance. Continue reading

Democratic Candidates Debate ‘Single-Payer,’ But What Does That Mean?

khn-logo1 This article by Julie Rovner originally appeared on Kaiser Health News.

Health care has emerged as one of the flash points in the Democratic presidential race.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has been a longtime supporter of a concept he calls “Medicare for All,” a health system that falls under the heading of “single-payer.”

Sanders released more details about his proposal shortly before the Democratic debate in South Carolina Sunday night. “What a Medicare-for-All program does is finally provide in this country health care for every man, woman and child as a right,” he said in Charleston. Continue reading