Stakeholders React to HHS’ Proposed Market Stabilization Regulations: Part 2 – Consumer Advocates

Last month, the Department of Health & Human Services released proposed rules aimed at stabilizing the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces. After a 20-day comment period, they received close to 4,000 public comments. In the second post in our series on the reactions of health care stakeholders, CHIR’s Rachel Schwab looks at comments from consumer advocacy groups. Continue reading

Policy Experts Talk Strategies, Obstacles for “Repeal and Replace”

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has increased access to health care by expanding coverage and reducing the number of uninsured, but problems facing consumers and insurers have some calling for repealing, replacing, or repairing the law. It seems every day we are presented with a new replacement plan or proposed rule, leaving the future of the health care landscape uncertain. Recently, CHIR sent Rachel Schwab to cover two D.C. events that brought together health policy experts to discuss the options and obstacles in front of us. Continue reading

Risky Business: Health Actuaries Assess the Individual Market and Rates

As the health care debate continues, we face a number of unknowns. Congressional leadership and President Trump vowed to repeal the ACA, but have yet to reach a consensus on the replacement plan. Meanwhile, consumers and insurers are making big decisions about health plans without knowing what the individual market will look like. Predicting the impact of unknown events is no easy task; if you’ve misplaced your crystal ball, the American Academy of Actuaries (AAA) recently released an issue paper on the future of the individual market, lending their expertise to a debate riddled with uncertainty. Continue reading

Busting the “Falling under its Own Weight” Myth: New Analysis Shows Better Outlook for the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces

It’s a new year, and with it comes new hope for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) exchanges. Wall Street analysts recently released research that shows improvements in insurers’ finances for 2016, predicting even better margins for future years. But just as the markets are starting to stabilize, the incoming Congress and Administration are threatening to undo them. Continue reading

From Acne to EcZema: The Return of Medical Underwriting Puts Millions at Risk for Losing Coverage or Higher Premiums

Medical underwriting, outlawed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is a practice used by insurance companies to assess a consumer’s health status. In the event of an ACA repeal, millions of people could lose coverage, pay higher premiums, or receive inadequate benefits that exclude essential health services, all based on a pre-existing condition. While many of us don’t see ourselves as falling under that category, the list of health conditions that qualify you for the chopping block may surprise you. Continue reading

Though the ACA Faces Tough Critics, Millions are Having an Easier Time Paying Medical Bills

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has extended insurance coverage to 22 million people, but the law’s critics often point to the high out-of-pocket costs in some of the ACA’s marketplace health plans. And while many people do face high deductibles and cost-sharing for health care services, a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that dramatically fewer people are struggling to pay medical bills, compared to what they faced before the ACA. Continue reading

In the Midst of Federal ACA Woes, States Play an Important Consumer Protection Role

In Washington, our health policy minds are on system overload. Since the election last week, the town is buzzing about the President-elect and new Congress’ promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as one of their first legislative actions. At the same time, they have also pledged allegiance to some of the law’s market reforms. Since most of those reforms are enforced at the state level, a continued state role will be critical to preserving these vital consumer protections. Continue reading

Health Plan Restrictions on Contraceptive Coverage: It’s like asking people to “renew their seat belt each month”

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has lowered financial barriers to birth control by requiring health plans to cover contraceptives at no cost sharing, but restrictions limit the availability and affordability of certain methods. While we’ve come a long way in ensuring access to this essential service, one hundred years after Margaret Sanger opened the first Planned Parenthood clinic in Brooklyn, nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. Addressing the unmet need for contraceptives and enabling women to maintain consistent and accurate drug use is a public health issue that affects insurers, consumers, and providers. Continue reading

CHIR Expert Sabrina Corlette Talks Marketplace Problems, Possible Solutions at Alliance for Health Reform Briefing

On Monday, September 26th, CHIR’s very own Sabrina Corlette spoke at a briefing on the future of ACA marketplaces put on by the Alliance for Health Reform. Ms. Corlette joined representatives from Anthem, the American Action Forum, and Covered California to discuss the forecast for 2017 and potential policy solutions to expand coverage and access in the individual market. Continue reading

Quality Over Quantity? New Medicaid Network Adequacy Rules Illuminate Disparities Among Insurance Program Standards

Narrow network plans, or plans with a limited network of providers, present problems for consumers across the various coverage programs. In May, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released the final rule setting network adequacy standards for Medicaid and CHIP managed care plans. The new rule requires states to set quantitative standards for network adequacy; but since these standards don’t apply uniformly to other federal programs, network adequacy – and access to essential health services – varies greatly for consumers based on what program they fall under. Continue reading