Alternative Design Options for a Public Health Plan

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New Lewin Group Report Examines Potential Impact

[By Staff Reporters]

April 6, 2009US Capitol

FALLS CHURCH, VA – The Lewin Group released a report titled “The Cost and Coverage Impacts of a Public Plan: Alternative Design Options.” The report examines potential impacts that a “public health plan” might have in competing for enrollment with the private insurance industry.

Healthcare Reform

As ME-P readers are aware, a public plan is currently being considered in a number of health reform proposals being considered by President Obama and the US Congress. This analysis enhances prior work done by The Lewin Group of the major party presidential candidate’s health reform proposals, during the 2008 campaign, as well as more recent analyses of the Congressional plans now being considered. The report estimates the impact on cost and coverage based on different levels of eligibility and reimbursement rates.

Key Findings Review

According to The Health Care Blog writer Robert Laszewski, key study findings include:

  • If Medicare payment levels are used in the public plan, premiums would be up to 30 percent less than premiums for comparable private coverage. On average, the monthly premium in the public plan for a typical benefits package would be $761 per family compared with an average of $970 per family in the private market for the same coverage.
  • If as the President proposed, eligibility is limited to only small employers, individuals and the self-employed, public plan enrollment would reach 42.9 million people. The number of people with private coverage would fall by 32.0 million people. If private payer reimbursement levels are used by the public plan, enrollment would be lower, with only 10.4 million people switching to the public plan from private insurance.
  • If the public plan is opened to all employers as proposed by former Senators Clinton and Edwards, at Medicare payment levels we estimate that about 131.2 million people would enroll in the public plan. The number of people with private health insurance would decline by 119.1 million people. This would be a two-thirds reduction in the number of people with private coverage (currently 170 million people). Here again, if the higher private payer levels are used, enrollment in private insurance would decline by only 12.5 million people.
  • Assuming Medicare reimbursement rates and eligibility for all individuals and employers, provider net income would decline under this public plan proposal, even after accounting for reduced uncompensated care and increased utilization for the newly insured. Net hospital revenues would fall by $36 billion (4.6 percent), and physician net income would fall by $33 billion (6.8 percent). If eligibility is restricted to individuals and small firms, net hospital revenues would actually increase by $11.3 billion due to the increase in newly insured individuals. But net physician incomes would decline by $3.0 billion.


Full report: lewin-report


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Understanding Collateralized Mortgage Obligations

Defining Terms and Concepts for Medical Professionals

By Staff Reporters


A CMO is a debt security backed by mortgages. These mortgage pools are usually separated into different maturity classes called tranches (from the French word for “slice”). The securities were issued by private issuers, as well as the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac). As the mortgages were usually government-guaranteed, CMOs usually carried AAA ratings until their current financial meltdown. The early versions of CMOs were known as “plain vanilla,” but recent developments gave us PACs (planned amortization certificates) and TACs (targeted amortization certificates); among too many others. They were all variations on how principal repayments in advance of maturity date were treated.




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