Future of Health Reform: A prescription for individual market stability

As policy uncertainty in Washington, DC roils health insurance markets nationwide, states like Minnesota are stepping up to preserve consumer coverage choices and keep premiums affordable. In a conference at the University of Minnesota School of Public Affairs sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota, CHIR’s Sabrina Corlette joined in a wide-ranging discussion with state leaders over the future of the ACA. BCBSM’s Laura Kaslow shares some takeaways from the event. Continue reading

Short-Term Health Plans: Still Bad for Consumers and the Individual Market

Some state and federal policymakers are urging HHS to relax Obama-era rules for short-term limited duration health plans, arguing they provide a cheaper alternative to ACA-compliant coverage. But a close examination of these plans reveals significant risks for consumers and the ACA marketplaces as a whole. In their latest post for the Commonwealth Fund’s To the Point blog, CHIR experts Dania Palanker, Kevin Lucia, and Emily Curran share the results of a deep dive into what’s covered – and what’s not – in short-term plans. Continue reading

Affordable Care Act Reforms Not Fully Realized for Small Businesses: New Study Documents a Market in Transition

A new report published by the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation uncovers trends in the market for small business health insurance that could have long-term implications for small employers who offer health coverage to recruit and retain employees and promote a healthy workforce. The authors, Georgetown CHIR experts Sabrina Corlette, Jack Hoadley, Dania Palanker and Kevin Lucia summarize some of their findings here. Continue reading

Important Gains under the ACA for Cancer Patients And Their Families

While there may be a respite from the push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a new report by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, authored by CHIR’s JoAnn Volk and Sandy Ahn, exposes what’s at stake in the debate for cancer patients and their families. The report finds that the ACA improved access to coverage and provides significant financial protections. The report is based on more than a dozen interviews with hospital-based Financial Navigators, who work closely with cancer patients throughout their treatment and provide critical insight into the coverage experience of cancer patients. Continue reading

“Small Business Health Plans”: Undermining States’ Authority and a Recipe for Fewer Plan Choices and Higher Premiums

The U.S. Senate stands poised to debate a bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, that would not only repeal major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, but would also fundamentally alter the state-federal framework for insurance regulation. A key provision would create federally certified small business health plans that are exempt from most state laws. In their latest article for The Commonwealth Fund, Kevin Lucia and Sabrina Corlette examine the impact of this provision on small businesses and states’ historic authority to protect consumers and manage their insurance markets. Continue reading

Have Employer Coverage? GOP Proposals Will Affect You Too (Part 2)

Much of the focus of the debate over repealing and replacing the ACA has been on the individual insurance market. But over 150 million people get coverage through their employer, and bills pending in the House and Senate will affect them, too. In a post originally published on the Health Affairs’ Blog, CHIR’s JoAnn Volk and Sabrina Corlette explain what’s preserved, and what’s at risk, for people in job-based plans. Continue reading

What Makes Covering Maternity Care Different?

The United States has a higher maternal mortality rate than any other developed country, but federal policy makers are considering reducing access to insurance coverage for pregnancy care. In a post for the Health Affairs blog, CHIR experts Dania Palanker and Kevin Lucia and Harkness Fellow Dimitra Panteli assess the latest policy proposal to allow states to waive out of the requirement that insurance plans in the individual market cover maternity and newborn care. Continue reading

Amid Market Uncertainty, Trump Administration Retreats from Health Plan Oversight

In mid-April, the Trump administration announced it would stop monitoring marketplace plans for compliance with several important federal protections and instead defer to states. In their latest blog post for The Commonwealth Fund, Justin Giovannelli and Kevin Lucia explain the new changes to insurance oversight, and assess the potential impact of this federal deregulation for states and consumers. Continue reading

Signs of Marketplace Stability May Be Undercut by Federal Policy Uncertainty

Recently, analysts have found evidence of marketplace stability after a number of insurers scaled back participation and increased premiums for 2017. Despite this progress, federal efforts to repeal and replace the ACA have sparked growing concerns about the marketplace’s sustainability. To understand how insurers are faring in the marketplaces amidst federal reform activity, CHIR experts reviewed the first quarter financial earnings of seven of the largest, publicly traded insurers. Continue reading

New Georgetown Issue Brief: 50-state Survey of State Action to Protect Consumers from Surprise Medical Bills

Balance billing occurs when a consumer who is treated by an out-of-network provider is subsequently billed by that provider for the difference between what their health plan paid and what the provider charges. In their latest issue brief published by the Commonwealth Fund, Kevin Lucia, Jack Hoadley, and Ashley Williams analyzed laws in all fifty states and the District of Columbia to understand the current scope of state laws that protect consumers from balance billing. Continue reading