The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) commercial health insurance rules and programs seem to be getting a small a honeymoon right now.
Maybe not a Grand Tour of Europe, but at least a daytrip to an outlet mall.
See also: Americans are warming up to PPACA
The PPACA public exchange system has received qualified health plan (QHP) selection information for about 12 million people, and it could get more QHP selections during the current tax season special enrollment period, which started March 15 in many states and is set to end April 30.
Even Republicans who say they hate PPACA are putting some parts of PPACA in their PPACA-replacement proposals. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has included an independent claim denials appeal provision in his bill, S. 647, and the Republicans have put many PPACA-like provisions in the Patient CARE Act PPACA-replacer bill.
Complaints about PPACA-related tax filing problems are starting to surface this week, but, during the first few weeks of the tax season, tax preparers were complaining about how quiet their offices were, not Form 1095 complexity nightmares.
But consumers are starting to post on social media services about long hold times on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) help lines, and other hints of storms to come are showing up in company earnings reports and analyst reports.
For a look at issues that could end the honeymoon, read on.
1. Connecture still sees employer interest in back away from offering health benefits.
Connecture Inc. (Nasdaq:CNXR), a company that develops Web-based consumer health insurance shopping, enrollment and administration systems, says it did well in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The company is reporting $4.5 million in net income for the quarter on $28 million in revenue, up from $690,000 in net income on $25 million in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2013.
The company, which supports both public and private exchange programs, saw its contracted backlog increase slightly, to $78 million at the end of the year, up $2 million from a year earlier.
But one trend the company sees is continuing small employers’ interest in getting out of the health benefits provider business.
A week after the company released earnings, it announced a webinar on the movement to individual coverage in the small group market.
Christine Sigrist, a product manager at Connecture, said her company still sees “heightened discussion around migration from small group to individual plans.”
That could be good for insurers selling individual plans through the public exchange system, and for exchanges that depend partly on per-enrollees to support themselves, but it could be hard on the U.S. taxpayer. Federal spending managers would like to see employers continue to subsidize employees’ benefits, to reduce the amount the government spends on exchange plan enrollee premium subsidies.