Health Law's Individual Mandate, Essential Benefits Draw Headlines

A new study concludes that dropping the individual mandate would result in overall lower health spending but increases in health insurance premium costs. Meanwhile, CQ HealthBeat reports on the drama that surrounds the Obama administration's essential benefits proposal.  

The Hill's Healthwatch: Study: Premiums Could Rise 25 Percent Without Insurance Mandate
Insurance premiums would rise by as much as 25 percent if the healthcare law is implemented without an individual mandate, according to a new analysis from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. … Without the mandate, according to the Robert Wood Johnson analysis, costs would rise and fewer people would be insured (Baker, 1/12).

Politico Pro: Study: Dropping Mandate May Slow Spending
What would life be like if the individual mandate goes but the rest of the Affordable Care Act survives? Something like this: Overall spending would be lower, but individual premiums would be higher — and maybe a whole lot higher. That’s the conclusion of a new analysis by the Urban Institute, released Thursday. The analysis, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, modeled what would happen to spending levels and insurance premiums if the mandate goes away — which could happen if the Supreme Court strikes down the mandate this summer but lets the rest of the law go into effect (Nather, 1/12).

CQ HealthBeat: Essential Health Benefits Proposal Prompts Questions, Worries
Uncertainty, apprehension and questions continue to swirl around a surprising Health and Human Services proposal to allow state officials to choose an essential health benefit template for their exchanges from among certain existing insurance plans in their states. While the bulletin on the approach HHS intends to follow was billed as advantageous for states because it offers them "flexibility and freedom," patient advocates who expected a clearer national standard for benefit design were taken aback by the Dec. 16 announcement. And they remain wary (Norman, 1/12).

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