While the Washington Education Association health trust won approval, dozens of other associations and trusts with plans covering hundreds of thousands of small-business employees and their households have either been denied by the State Insurance Commissioner or are in limbo, awaiting a decision. Of Washington state’s more than 60 association and trust plans, 11 are approved, nine are under review and the rest have been rejected.
If it is premature to draw conclusions about the cost effects of the ACA, it is doubly so for the quality effects of the law. The reductions in hospital-acquired conditions and Medicare readmissions since the enactment of the ACA are unprecedented and encouraging, but here again, the causes of these favorable trends are uncertain.
Of the 37 states that received $2.1 billion in grants to establish an exchange, only 17 did so, and they got an additional $2.7 billion from the feds. Of those 17, two went bankrupt in the first year. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that half of the remaining state exchanges face serious financial problems as they wrestle “with surging costs…and tepid enrollment numbers.”
A poll released today by the American College of Emergency Physicians shows that 28% of 2,099 doctors surveyed nationally saw large increases in volume, while 47% saw slight increases. By contrast, fewer than half of doctors reported any increases last year in the early days of the Affordable Care Act.
While the numbers slightly exceeded the 164,000 recorded at the close of first enrollment last year, they still fell short of expectations. Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which runs Healthplanfinder, had set a goal of 213,000, a number the exchange staff had said was needed for the exchange to be self-sustaining, as required under the law.