Affordable Care Act Navigators: Unexpected Success During 2018 Enrollment Season Shouldn’t Obscure Challenges Ahead

Heading into open enrollment for 2018 marketplace coverage, experts predicted far fewer people would sign up for coverage. Despite the obstacles working against a successful open enrollment, sign-ups came close to last year’s tally: federally facilitated marketplaces (FFMs) logged 8.8 million plan selections, including close to 2.5 million new consumers, by the close of open enrollment on December 15th, nearing the 9.2 million plan selection from the previous year in just half the time. CHIR’s Olivia Hoppe and JoAnn Volk take a look at what explains the better-than-expected results. Continue reading

Insurer Participation in ACA Marketplaces: Federal Uncertainty Triggers Diverging Business Strategies

A reliable indicator of health insurance markets’ stability is insurer participation, including the number of insurers that elect to sell individual plans and whether they participate over subsequent years. In a recent analysis for the Commonwealth Fund, CHIR experts looked at insurer participation in the state-based Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces from 2014 to 2018, which sheds light on how state marketplaces have maintained competition despite uncertainty about the law’s future. Continue reading

States Face Key Decisions if Alexander-Murray Proposal Is Included in Year-End Budget Bill

The Alexander-Murray bill to fund the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing subsidies could be included in an end-of-year budget deal. It includes provisions requiring states to make some quick decisions on an issue that many may have thought was put to bed. CHIR’s Justin Giovannelli provides an overview of what states may need to do, and when, if Alexander-Murray passes. Continue reading

New Rules Pending on Short-Term Health Plans: Impacts for Consumers, Markets and Potential State Responses

New rules are due any day now in response to President Trump’s October 13, 2017 executive order to expand access to short-term limited-duration health plans that don’t have to comply with Affordable Care Act protections. The impact of the proposed new rules were debated at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ December meeting, as well as potential state policy options to protect consumers and stabilize their markets. CHIR recently outlined some in an issue brief, and we share some highlights here. Continue reading

Insurers, State Regulators Avoid Bare Counties in 2018, but Seek Long-Term Solutions

As we near the end of the second week of a so-far successful Open Enrollment, uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act remains a challenge. As insurers and state regulators prepared for the 2018 plan year, they addressed questions of whether Congress or the Trump Administration would make major changes to the law. This led to a situation in several states where some or all counties seemed likely to have no insurance plan available for residents seeking marketplace coverage. In a new issue brief for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, CHIR experts examine the actions of six states that faced the prospect of bare counties for 2018. Continue reading

State-Based Marketplaces Push Ahead, Despite Federal Resistance

Open enrollment for 2018 started last week on the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces. Along with its executive actions designed to weaken marketplaces operations, the Trump administration has taken a number of steps over the past year to curb marketplace enrollment. While the administration has scaled back efforts to provide health coverage, state-based marketplaces have taken a different approach. In their latest post for The Commonwealth Fund’s To The Point blog, CHIR’s Emily Curran and Justin Giovannelli share their findings from interviews with executives at 15 of the 17 states that operate their own marketplaces. Continue reading

States Step Up to Protect Consumers in Wake of Cuts to ACA Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments

In the wake of President Trump’s decision to cut off payments for a key ACA subsidy for low-income enrollees, the impact felt by consumers and insurers will vary from state to state, depending on the actions of insurance regulators and insurance companies. In their latest post for The Commonwealth Fund’s To The Point blog, CHIR’s Sabrina Corlette, Kevin Lucia, and Maanasa Kona share findings from their 50-state review of insurers’ responses to the loss of cost-sharing reduction payments for 2018. Continue reading

New Executive Order: Expanding Access to Short-Term Health Plans Is Bad for Consumers and the Individual Market

President Trump signed a “very major” executive order related to health care that is “going to cover a lot of territory.” The executive order takes steps to roll back a consumer protection related to short-term health plans. In their latest post for the Commonwealth Fund’s To the Point blog, CHIR’s Dania Palanker, Kevin Lucia, and Emily Curran assess the proposed regulatory changes and their impact on consumers and insurance markets. Continue reading