Medical health insurance costs are about to go up. Possibly way up.

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For those of you who’ve private medical health insurance — insurance provided by your employer, for instance — prices are going to rise about 10% on average, based on initial data from states.

But when Congress doesn’t act fairly soon, insurance rates will rise quite a bit more for the 13 million Americans who get insurance through the Inexpensive Care Act marketplace, and 1 million Americans will face medical health insurance costs which can be double what they pay today.

That is somewhat complex but so essential, so I’ll take an in depth dive.

First, let’s speak about private health care costs. For the last several years, private medical health insurance rates have remained about flat. Partly, that’s because people didn’t use their medical health insurance as much through the pandemic because they might not get elective surgery and so they didn’t visit their doctors as often. But as restrictions eased, people began using their medical health insurance more.

Now, the Kaiser Family Foundation says, based on a review of information from 13 states, it appears medical health insurance costs will rise around 10% this yr.  Rates will vary by location, but additionally by how much employers pay or pass along. Greater employers can sometimes cut higher deals with insurers.

The Peterson-Kaiser Family Foundation Health System Tracker says:

On the time of this temporary, we have now compiled data from 72 insurers across 13 states and the District of Columbia. (The 13 states reviewed include: Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Latest York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, and Washington.) These filings are preliminary and will change through the review process. Rates shall be finalized in late summer.

To this point, we discover that across 72 insurers in 13 states and the District of Columbia, the median proposed premium increase is about 10%. Most premium changes insurers are requesting for 2023 fall between about 5% and 14% (the twenty fifth and seventy fifth percentile, respectively). In comparison with recent years, relatively few insurers are requesting to lower their premiums, with only 4 out of 72 insurers filing negative premium changes, and the remaining 68 insurers requesting premium increases.

Insurers say about half of the rise is because individuals are using their health care advantages more now and about half is from inflation. The Associated Press has an easy-to-read story concerning the estimates. Here is Peterson-KFF Health’s Systems Tracker with a rather more detailed summary of what’s driving private insurance costs through 2023.

Now let’s turn to marketplace insurance premiums for the ACA — commonly often known as Obamacare. Congress is prone to extend this system that keeps these costs from going up. But, as you already know, nothing is definite in Congress today. If Congress fails to act, ACA customers will get notices that their rates are rising by quite a bit sometime around the primary of October.

My friend Larry Levitt, KFF’s executive vp for health policy, has been telling classes that I’m leading across the country that journalists should concentrate as to if Congress extends health care coverage under the American Rescue Plan Act.

Before the pandemic-linked ARPA, individuals who earned greater than 4 times the federal poverty level weren’t eligible for subsidies under the ACA. People whose income goes over the extent even by somewhat bit would must pay full price for coverage, which might make it unaffordable for a lot of.

When Congress passed ARPA, it modified the calculation for who could get subsidized health care within the ACA marketplace. The brand new calculation was based on a percentage of income going to health care, so individuals with higher incomes would pay not greater than 8.5% of their income for Silver Plan coverage, probably the most basic marketplace plan.

But now Congress has to make a decision if it should make the brand new ARPA rule everlasting, or if we are going to return to income 4 times the poverty level because the cutoff for subsidies to cover medical health insurance. The price of the subsidy is about $22 billion a yr.

The present subsidies expire at the top of the yr. There’s little doubt this can turn into an election issue.

Journalists needs to be asking candidates whether or not they support extending ARPA health care subsidies. Sen. Joe Manchin, the Senate’s swing vote, indicated that he’ll support extending ARPA, but (for now) wants a bill that doesn’t include other spending, including climate change measures or tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans.

If Congress doesn’t extend ARPA, hundreds of thousands of Americans will get notices within the mail telling them that their insurance rates are about to skyrocket just weeks before the midterm elections. It would ignite recent attacks on Democrats for failing to manage health care costs.

Levitt told our seminar participants that if Congress doesn’t extend the ARPA subsidies, some people can pay upwards of $100 a month more for basic coverage. But since coverage costs roughly depending on where you reside, some people could find yourself paying twice as much for coverage.

Kaiser Family Foundation estimates:

A 40-year-old with an income of just over 4 times the poverty level living in West Virginia or Wyoming would must pay a mean of 18% of his or her income for a silver plan without the ARPA’s subsidies. That’s a rise of over 100% of their premium payments. Meanwhile, the identical person living in one among six low-premium states (Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Latest Hampshire, and Rhode Island) already pays lower than 8.5% of their income for an unsubsidized silver premium.

A 64-year-old Marketplace enrollee making just over 4 times the poverty level in West Virginia or Wyoming would must pay greater than 40% of their income for a silver plan in the event that they lost access to the ARPA subsidies.

Kaiser provides this calculation as an illustration of how one person could be affected:

On average across the U.S., a 40-year-old with an income just over 4 times the poverty level ($51,520 per yr for people buying coverage in 2022), will see their premium payments increase from 8.5% of their income to about 10% of their income if ARPA subsidies expire. The everyday 40-year-old would go from having subsidized monthly payments of $365 to an unsubsidized $438, or a rise of their premium payment of about 20% simply attributable to the lack of subsidies. That’s before accounting for any increase within the unsubsidized premium from 2022 to 2023.

Go to this interactive map to see state-by-state estimates of what this increase could cost if Congress doesn’t extend ARPA:

(Kaiser Family Foundation)

By the best way, our Poynter Midterm Essentials workshops head to Columbus, Ohio, after which Philadelphia next week. The classes are full. We end in St. Petersburg in August. We are going to record that last session and make it available without cost soon so you’ll be able to get the above information right from Larry Levitt himself. I’ll let you already know once we post the videos.

On this 30 second exposure, a meteor streaks across the sky through the annual Perseid meteor shower, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, in Spruce Knob, West Virginia. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

This weekend essay in The Latest York Times by Andrea Stanley caught my attention and made me take into consideration my very own contributions to the issue.

The essay looks at how light pollution is making it difficult to benefit from the nighttime sky in a lot of the country, even in what was dark sky country.

A few of it’s light from streetlights. Some is from others like me who send light into the night with landscape lighting. The essay caught my attention with this line, “What’s the point of an illuminated shrub at 2 a.m.?”

The essay includes this passage:

In accordance with a 2016 study published within the journal Science Advances, 83 percent of the world’s population lives under light-polluted skies, with one-third of humans unable to see the Milky Way in any respect. Later findings, in the identical journal, noted that the quantity of light-touched land increases by roughly two percent every yr.

“Light pollution is totally growing,” Ashley Wilson, director of conservation for the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), a company working to combat light pollution, told me. “Not even just our use of sunshine, however the excessive use of it. There was a report published earlier this yr by the Department of Energy which stated that 99 percent of the sunshine that we emit has no clear purpose. It boggles my mind. My analogy is with water. You’d never want to depart your sprinklers on all night within the hope it’ll water a particular plant in a pot. Why are we doing the identical with our light?”

A National Geographic article reported that light pollution has other effects:

Artificial light can wreak havoc on natural body rhythms in each humans and animals. Nocturnal light interrupts sleep and confuses the circadian rhythm—the interior, twenty-four-hour clock that guides day and night activities and affects physiological processes in nearly all living organisms. Considered one of these processes is the production of the hormone melatonin, which is released when it’s dark and is inhibited when there may be light present. An increased amount of sunshine at night lowers melatonin production, which ends up in sleep deprivation, fatigue, headaches, stress, anxiety, and other health problems.

And artificial light causes big problems for animals, too, especially for sea turtles and migratory birds:

Studies show that light pollution can be impacting animal behaviors, equivalent to migration patterns, wake-sleep habits, and habitat formation. Because of sunshine pollution, sea turtles and birds guided by moonlight during migration get confused, lose their way, and infrequently die. Large numbers of insects, a primary food source for birds and other animals, are drawn to artificial lights and are immediately killed upon contact with light sources. Birds are also affected by this, and lots of cities have adopted a “Lights Out” program to show off constructing lights during bird migration.

There may be even a bunch called the International Dark Sky Association that “works to guard night skies.” The group maps locations which can be a part of the Dark Sky Places Program.

(Dark Sky)

The locations are broken down into several categories, all of which could make terrific news stories, especially given the interest within the recent space telescope photos:

The International Dark Sky Places Program offers five varieties of designations:

  • International Dark Sky Communities: Communities are legally organized cities and towns that adopt quality outdoor lighting ordinances and undertake efforts to coach residents concerning the importance of dark skies.
  • International Dark Sky Parks: Parks are publicly- or privately-owned spaces protected for natural conservation that implement good outdoor lighting and supply dark sky programs for visitors.
  • International Dark Sky Reserves: Reserves consist of a dark “core” zone surrounded by a populated periphery where policy controls are enacted to guard the darkness of the core.
  • International Dark Sky Sanctuaries: Sanctuaries are probably the most distant (and infrequently darkest) places on the planet whose conservation state is most fragile.
  • Urban Night Sky Places: UNSPs are sites near or surrounded by large urban environs whose planning and design actively promote an authentic nighttime experience within the midst of great artificial light at night, and that otherwise don’t qualify for designation inside every other International Dark Sky Places category.

Axios brings us a pleasant reframe on boredom with studies that show boredom is sweet for us. Most of us are fidgeting with our devices and doomscrolling all day and that leaves no time for our brains to chill out, wander and create.  But, Axios points out:

In a single study, published within the Academy of Management Discoveries, researchers lulled a bunch into boredom by instructing them to sort beans by color. One other group was given a much more interesting craft to do.

After that, each group was directed to give you good excuses for tardiness. The bored group bested their counterparts on each number and creativity of ideas, as judged by an objective outside group.

One other study concluded that boredom motivates people to search out novelty. Our minds wander once we’re bored, and we expect of latest things to try.

Yet one more researcher found that boredom will be especially useful for youths who, the study says, need unstructured time to create their very own thoughts and activities.

All of this explains why almost two-thirds of individuals surveyed say a few of their best considering happens within the shower. It shouldn’t be the shower that helps you; it’s being disconnected from every little thing, for even just a few minutes, that frees you to think creatively.

Possibly we must always not ask, “What are you doing this weekend?” As a substitute, we’d ask, “What are you NOT doing this weekend?” Dare to be bored.

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