Category: ACA and Policy, Cost of Healthcare, Health Insurance


One of the more interesting things the Affordable Care Act did to the private health insurance business was to tell health insurance companies that the Feds were now in control of their profit margins. What does that mean?

Imagine you are the CEO of your own health insurance company. In fact, let’s call it Your Own Health Insurance Company, or YOHIC for short! How do you think you would feel if YOHIC collected $1 billion in premiums over a year, but only had to pay out $500 million in healthcare costs? Sounds like YOHIC is doing really well, turning a 50% profit. Does YOHIC get to keep the rest of the premiums for its own payroll and profits?

Since 2010, the answer to that question is a resounding NO! Read more

Category: Health and Wellness

Hurricane Recovery in the Time of COVID-19

I’m taking a break from my series on COVID-19 data to talk about something more pressing – our state’s recovery from Hurricane Laura.

If, like me, you’ve spent many years in Louisiana, you’ve dealt with a lot of hurricanes that caused a lot of damage and destruction. I have memories of my childhood home in Morgan City being pummeled so hard by Hurricane Betsy in 1965 (I was a preschooler!) that water was blowing through the bricks and into the sheetrock. The walls of our brand-new house were flexing, like the house was “breathing,” and a telephone pole dropped right onto our roof. Terrifying. Let’s just say my family never stayed for any other hurricane after that one.

I still remember the blank looks and terrified children among the 23 people, most of whom I’d never met, who sheltered with me and my family in 2005, post-Katrina. Some of them stayed with us for a year, even putting their kids into schools in our district, where my kids went. We had 23 humans, 10 dogs and a bird! What an adventure that was. Read more

Category: Health and Wellness

Tracking Louisiana’s Progress, Part 2: Deaths from COVID-19

I’m not usually one to dive into topics that are just horribly grim, but everything I’m going to tell you next is important to how we are forecasting and tracking COVID-19, and, in my personal opinion, needs to be said.

As I write this (week of Aug. 20), COVID-19 is killing around 30 of our family, friends and neighbors in Louisiana every day. Nearly 4,500 Louisianians have died since we started tracking COVID-19 deaths in February. In fact, nationwide, COVID-19 is now the THIRD-leading cause of death in the United States, behind only cancer and heart disease. That means COVID-19 is now killing more people than accidents, injuries, strokes, lung disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and many, many other causes. We have to take this virus very seriously, especially the trends of Louisianians dying from it. Read more

Category: Health and Wellness

Tracking Louisiana’s Progress Against COVID-19, Part 1: Inpatient Hospital Stats

In the data world, we always have options. Sometimes, way too many options.

As COVID-19 took hold here in March, and we began to see just how serious it was going to be, it became clear that finding strong, reliable data that was EASY TO COMMUNICATE to everyone was going to be a challenge.

After watching some data sources and results get shot down by naysayers, and knowing how important it was going to be to our economic success that the data I presented here via Straight Talk was reliable AND believable, I settled on three main areas of data that I want to track and communicate to you all. I believe these points are strong indicators of how close we are getting to Phase 3. In this post, we will tackle the first one: How many people are COVID-positive and in the hospital? Read more

Category: Health and Wellness

To Vaccinate? Or Not to Vaccinate? It’s a Big Deal.

These things always seem to start simply enough. I was driving to Shreveport one frosty November morning about five years ago to give a speech and spend a couple of days educating folks on health insurance compliance. Just north of Alexandria, I stopped at my favorite barbecue place for lunch. As I was getting out of the car, my back brushed the seat, and I got a pain in my side –a really strong, kind of burning pain. Very unpleasant!

“Getting old is just DELIGHTFUL!” I remember thinking to myself.

Over the next few days, the burning sensation got more painful and started to spread across the middle of my back and around my sides toward my chest. I kept looking in the mirror, expecting to see something, but there was nothing. By the time I got home, it hurt a LOT! What the heck was going on? Read more

Category: ACA and Policy, Cost of Healthcare, Government Programs, Health Insurance

Turning 26 Is Like Landing on an Alien Planet

It’s the eve of your 26th birthday, you must take your first steps into this alien world alone. For 25 years, you’ve lived in safety on the Mother Ship, er, your parents’ health insurance plan. PPOs, HMOs, cost shares and deductibles weren’t even on your radar.

What should you (or your kid who is turning 26) do? Healthcare Economist Mike Bertaut explains your options. Read more