Tag Archives: health insurance

74% of Obamacare’s Biggest Haters Now Say They Actually Love It

74% of Obamacare’s Biggest Haters Now Say They Actually Love It

“Republicans love it. Three-quarters of self-identified conservatives who purchased a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act say they are more than pleased with their new care.

In short, Obamacare is working — even for those who railed against it.

How it’s working: Among young adults (the new law’s most important benefactors), the rate of uninsured people declined by 28%, according to a new Commonwealth Fund study. Of all of those who signed up for Obamacare (either using Medicaid or private insurance) 58% said they were better off than they were before they got their new coverage. Those with Medicaid showed their new plans the most love — 67% said they were doing better with Obamacare.

Image Credit: Commonwealth Fund

Luckily for Republicans, the new health care plans are party-blind: Less than a year after launching an all-out war against Obamacare, Republicans have turned out to be some of its biggest benefactors — at least the ones who don’t live in states where conservative leaders have blocked the law. Along a strip of the Midwest and throughout most of the South where the law is not in effect, more than a third of the lowest-income residents remain uninsured. That number has remained virtually unchanged from last year, even as millions of people in surrounding states gained coverage (many of whom for the first time). Meanwhile, in states that did participate in the expansion, the cost of Medicare has plummeted, saving the U.S. government a cool $50 billion.

Image Credit: Kaiser Family Health Foundation

Despite a rocky roll-out, 8 million Americans signed up for Obamacare since it became available in January, decreasing the number of adults without insurance from 20% to 15%.

Image Credit: Commonwealth Fund

Most adults with new coverage have used it to go to the doctor. Overall, about 80% have said they are satisfied with their purchase.

“This is yet another datapoint showing that the Affordable Care Act is basically doing what it’s supposed to do,” The Kaiser Foundation’s Larry Levitt told the New York Times.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Spotlights

Cash Back On Broccoli: Health Insurers Nudge Shoppers To Be Well

by ALLISON AUBREY

March 19, 2013 4:43 PM
A shopper at a branch of South African retailer Pick n Pay in Johannesburg. Health insurer Discovery offers rebates on health food at the chain to its members who enroll in a health promotion program.

A shopper at a branch of South African retailer Pick n Pay in Johannesburg. Health insurer Discovery offers rebates on health food at the chain to its members who enroll in a health promotion program.

SIPHIWE SIBEKO/Reuters /Landov

 

“At $2.50 a pound, broccoli may seem too expensive. But cut the price by 25 percent, and our thinking about whether we should buy it may change.

study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concludes that rebates on healthy food purchases lead to significant changes in what people put in their grocery carts.

It was actually South Africa’s largest insurer, Discovery, in partnership with Vitality Group, that decided to offer 10 percent and 25 percent cash-back rebates to members of its health promotion program on fruits, vegetables, non-fat dairy and other healthful foods at one supermarket chain. (To get the 25 percent rebate, members had to fill out a questionnaire.)

Researchers at the RAND Corporation then looked at their spending on these foods and found that they increased 9.3 percent (calculated as a ratio of spending on healthy food to total food spending) with the 25 percent rebate. A 10 percent rebate nudged people to buy healthier stuff, too, just a little less — a 6 percent increase.

“People did react fairly strong,” says Roland Sturm of RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif., the study’s lead author. Even the smaller rebate was “enough to change behavior.”

The analysis looked at the purchases of more than 170,000 households, 60 percent of which were eligible for the rebate.

In the U.S., Wal-Mart and a company called HumanaVitality are now testing a similar healthful food incentives pilot program. Members of HumanaVitality, a partnership between the Vitality Group (owned by Discovery) and health insurer Humana, save 5 percent when they buy foods with the Great For You label at Wal-Mart.

But is a 5 percent rebate, or discount, enough to motivate people to change their shopping patterns? It’s not clear. HumanaVitality will find out when they analyze the results in September.

Derek Yach of the Vitality Group acknowledges that a 10 percent rebate would be better than 5 percent. As my colleague Dan Charles has reported, Yach, a former PepsiCo vice president, and Vitality Group, are at the forefront of this movement to try to incentivize wellness.

But Yach says the findings of the RAND study suggest that diets can be shifted. And this, he believes, has huge implications for public policy.

Some two-thirds of healthcare spending is linked to lifestyle diseases such as obesity, Type-2 diabetes that can be prevented or controlled by healthier diets and lifestyle. So the insurers sponsoring these incentive programs are hoping they’ll help curb future healthcare costs.

While the study is among the first to evaluate a large rebate program, it’s important to look at what shoppers did with the cash they got back. Did they use the 25 percent savings on broccoli to buy doughnuts? Nope — they increased their spending on healthy foods.

But incentive programs have also been known to fall flat. As we’ve reported, researchers at the University of Buffalo found that subsidizing healthy food led to the unintended consequence of people spending more on high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. This was a small study that took place in a simulated market setting, not a real grocery store.

But this new study shows that over the long-term, it may be possible to nudge people towards wellness by consistently making healthy food cheaper.”

Leave a comment

March 22, 2013 · 8:01 pm