Update on Federal Mandates to Cover COVID-19 Testing Services: New Guidance for States, Plans, and Insurers

The Trump administration recently issued guidance to health insurers, determining that they are not required to cover workplace or public health surveillance testing for COVID-19. In a recent post for the State Health & Value Strategies project, Sabrina Corlette assesses what this latest federal interpretation means for states’ efforts to combat the pandemic. Continue reading

The COVID-19 Pandemic – Insurer Insights Into Challenges, Implications, and Lessons Learned

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has placed enormous pressure on virtually all facets of U.S. society. Much attention has appropriately been placed on the efforts of health care providers to deliver care to those infected with COVID-19. However, less is known about the experiences of the health insurers who reimburse those health care providers for the care they deliver. In a new report supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, insurance experts at CHIR and the Urban Institute share findings from interviews with executives at 25 health insurance companies on their impressions of the ongoing ramifications of the pandemic and their response to the crisis. Continue reading

Effects of Medicaid Health Plan Dominance on the Health Insurance Marketplaces

Medicaid insurers dominate many of the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplaces. Some health system stakeholders have raised concerns about the potential negative consequences of Medicaid insurer participation in the market, largely due to their limited networks. In a new report supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, CHIR and Urban Institute experts assess how Medicaid insurers function in the marketplace. Continue reading

Should States’ COVID-19 Insurance Coverage Mandates Be Extended Past the Current State of Emergency?

Many states acted to expand access to health care services as part of the fight against COVID-19, mandating that insurers cover and reduce consumers’ costs for COVID-19 and other health care services. Now that the public health emergency orders in many states are expiring, what, if any, of these insurance mandates should be retained? In their latest post for the Commonwealth Fund, CHIR’s Sabrina Corlette and Madeline O’Brien assess states’ options. Continue reading

A Pledge to Do Better

We at CHIR are reeling and taking stock in the wake of the tragic and callous murder of George Floyd, as well as the unsurprising unrest caused by our nation’s longstanding indifference to the pain of communities of color. At CHIR, we spend our professional lives focused on improving people’s access to affordable, high quality health insurance. The work is an honor and we believe we are helping to advance policies that allow more people to get better health care without facing financial ruin.

However, we know we have privileges we too often take for granted and that, at times, have blinded us to well-documented inequities in our health care system. The fact is that we have not thought deeply enough about the longstanding and structural racism that makes it more likely that Black, Hispanic, and Native American/Alaskan Native people are uninsured, more likely to suffer from high out-of-pocket costs, more likely to lack access to providers, and more likely to get poor quality care. We can and must do more. As researchers and policy analysts, we can study the data to better understand the challenges facing communities of color. We can proactively seek out voices in those communities who are documenting and sharing their lived experiences. We can consciously and carefully assess the disparate impacts of policy choices, and work a lot harder to lift up those policies that lift up people of color. We don’t pretend that our efforts to learn about these issues and integrate them into our work in a deeper and more conscious way will make a big difference, but they could make a small difference. What we realize is that these efforts are essential to our mission and values.

We would love to hear from you. If you know of ways in which we can better integrate these important issues into our work and share them with decision makers, please let us know. Continue reading

During the COVID-19 Crisis, State Health Insurance Marketplaces Are Working to Enroll the Uninsured

As the coronavirus pandemic and economic shutdown continue, the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces are an important tool in covering the uninsured. In a new post for the Commonwealth Fund’s To the Point blog, CHIR experts Rachel Schwab, Justin Giovannelli and Kevin Lucia explore how state-based marketplaces have worked to enroll the uninsured during the COVID-19 crisis by creating new opportunities to sign up for coverage and launching outreach campaigns. Continue reading

The Provider Relief Fund: How Well Does it Protect Patients from Surprise Medical Bills for COVID-19 Related Services?

The $175 billion Provider Relief Fund prohibits participating providers from balance billing COVID-19 patients, regardless of their source of coverage. While this could help many patients avoid surprise medical bills, there remain several questions about the scope of protection this will provide. In an update to his April 30, 2020 post, Georgetown expert Jack Hoadley takes a look at the fine print of the program as well as new guidance from HHS. Continue reading

In the Age of COVID-19, Short-Term Plans Fall Short for Consumers

During February’s State of the Union address, President Trump touted his administration’s efforts to expand access to short-term health plans that do not comply with any of the ACA’s consumer protections. Short-term plans are often cheaper than ACA-compliant plans because they can deny coverage to people and exclude entire categories of services. In a recent post supported by The Commonwealth Fund, we reviewed 12 short-term plans to determine what coverage consumers would have if they needed treatment for COVID-19. We found that consumers in short-term plans are likely to have less financial protections than those enrolled in ACA plans. Continue reading