Updating the Essential Health Benefit Benchmark Plan: An Unexpected Path to Fill Coverage Gaps?

Many feared that Trump administration rules issued in 2018 would result in less-generous benefits in Affordable Care Act health plans. However, five states have now enhanced their essential health benefit benchmark plans under these rules. In a post for the State Health & Value Strategies program, CHIR’s Sabrina Corlette and Manatt Health’s Joel Ario examine how these states were able to do so. Continue reading

Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing for Essential Workers: Considerations and Challenges for State Policymakers

States are being forced to decide how to target, administer, and finance asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for essential workers in the midst of a global pandemic and their own budget crises. In a new post for the Commonwealth Fund’s To the Point blog, Kevin Lucia, Sara Rosenbaum, Sabrina Corlette and Madeline O’Brien identify challenges and considerations for state policymakers. Continue reading

Partial Vindication for Insurers in Cost-sharing Reduction Litigation: Implications for State Insurance Regulation

Health insurers won a partial victory against the government in federal court last week, when the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that the Trump administration breached a contract with insurers to reimburse them for cost-sharing reduction plans offered under the Affordable Care Act. In her latest “Expert Perspective” for the State Health & Value Strategies program, CHIR’s Sabrina Corlette breaks down the decision and its implications for state insurance regulation. Continue reading

As Insurers Sit on Extra Cash, Are Premium Relief and MLR Rebates the Best Use of Funds?

While the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted financial catastrophe across the country, the private health insurance industry appears to be thriving. CHIR researchers Megan Houston and Sabrina Corlette consider whether the traditional use of these extra funds is the best way to spend them and discuss opportunities that states may have to redirect money towards COVID-19 testing. Continue reading

Getting It Done: Consensus On Surprise Billing Protections

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk that patients will experience surprise bills for out-of-network health care services. In their latest post for the Health Affairs blog, CHIR’s Jack Hoadley, Kevin Lucia, and Katie Keith discuss the latest Congressional and administrative efforts to protect people from surprise balance billing and chart a path for a potential federal solution. Continue reading

New Report Provides State Policy Recommendations on How to Protect Consumers, Reduce Disparities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic presents unprecedented threats to health and safety, and exacerbates existing inequities that continue to jeopardize the wellbeing of millions of Americans. To help state policymakers during a time of great upheaval and uncertainty, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Consumer Representatives put together recommendations on access to coverage and care, health equity and racial justice, and other state policy issues. Continue reading

Imposing The Costs Of Workplace Coronavirus Testing On Group Plan Coverage Would Place An Excessive Burden On Essential Workers

To re-open safely, many employers will need to rely on regular testing for the virus that causes COVID-19. But doing so is expensive, and some have called for it to be financed by employers’ health benefit plans. In a new post for the Health Affairs blog, CHIR’s Sabrina Corlette joins the Urban Institute’s Linda Blumberg and Michael Simpson in a look at the data. They find that relying on group plan coverage alone would place an excessive burden on workers. Continue reading

Comparing Short-term Health Plans is Practically Impossible for Consumers

The Trump administration has promoted short-term health plans as a cheap substitute for comprehensive, Affordable Care Act-compliant health insurance. In this guest post for CHIRblog, former Montana insurance regulator Christina L. Goe reviewed a wide range short-term plan policies and found multiple confusing and complicated plan terms that make it difficult for consumers to assess and compare plans and could expose them to considerable financial risk. Continue reading

Limitations of Short-Term Health Plans Persist Despite Predictions That They’d Evolve

The Congressional Budget Office and others predicted that short-term health plans would become more generous in the wake of the Trump administration’s policy to encourage their use as an alternative to Affordable Care Act coverage. In their latest post for the Commonwealth Fund’s To the Point blog, CHIR experts reviewed over 400 short-term plan policies to determine if, in fact, they have become more comprehensive over time. Continue reading