KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Get Ready To Pay More For Health Coverage, But It May Not Be Just Health Law’s Fault

Although many blame the health law for all recent health care cost increases, trends that bump up the cost of care were in place before the law was enacted and are being driven up even more by routine costs, some say.

Kaiser Health News: Expect To Pay More For Your Employer-Sponsored Health Care Next Year
If you're one of the 150 million Americans who get health insurance through your job, prepare to pay more. The new year will likely bring higher deductibles and co-payments, penalties for not joining wellness programs and smaller employer contributions toward family coverage. While some workers and employers blame the federal health law for those changes, benefit experts say the law is mainly accelerating trends that predate it (Appleby, 12/20).

USA Today: Study: Routine Costs, Not Law, Lead To Most New Increases
Routine costs, not requirements of the Affordable Care Act, contributed to the majority of health insurance rate increases in the last year, a new study released Thursday shows. "It wasn't driven by utilization of the services, but the unit costs," said Mike McCue, lead author of the study by The Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit group devoted to improving health services for Americans. "That will continue to be a major driver moving forward -- trying to control those medical expenses -- if they want to remain profitable" (Kennedy, 12/19).

And big tax preparation firms plan to help educate customers on how they can sign up for health law insurance coverage --

Politico: 'Tis The Season For Health And Taxes
Firms like Jackson Hewitt and H&R Block are offering health insurance checkups during the 2014 tax preparation season to explain Obamacare options to their customers, many of whom will qualify for federal tax credits to help afford health coverage but may not know it. The firms are partnering with web insurance brokers who will help people sign up as they're filing their taxes -- which in turn gives them cash on hand from tax refunds to help them pay their share of the premiums (Cunningham, 12/19).

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