A Snake in the Grass? Choosing Between COBRA and Other Coverage Options After Leaving Employer Coverage

Leaving a job comes with many challenges, not the least of which is securing new health insurance. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) offers employees continued coverage on their job-based plan, but losing the employer subsidies could cause some to turn to the individual market to find lower premiums. With a Senate bill under consideration that reduces federal subsidies and strips away vital consumer protections, anyone leaving employer coverage will have to make a decision today about joining an insurance market that could look vastly different six months from now. On her last day at Georgetown, CHIR’s Rachel Schwab reflects on options for coverage after leaving a job-based plan. Continue reading

New Report Emphasizes States’ Power to Protect Consumers and Ensure Stable Markets in the Midst of Federal Uncertainty

In the past few months, Congress and the Trump Administration have floated a number of proposals and three-pronged plans, many of which put states in the hot seat of implementing and overseeing major changes to the health care system. In a new report funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Consumer Representatives outline the potential impact of federal proposals, and how state Departments of Insurance can protect consumers and promote market stability through their role as regulators and advisors to state and federal policymakers. Continue reading

Proposed Trump Administration Rule Shortens Open Enrollment: Policy Goals, Potential Impact, and State Options

In February, the Trump administration proposed a number of rules that they hope will stabilize the individual market. One of these rules would cut this year’s open enrollment period from 90 days to 45 days. While HHS argues that the shorter timeframe could streamline the enrollment process and improve the risk pool, other health care stakeholders have expressed concern that a shortened OE might dampen enrollment and overwhelm state-based marketplaces. With the final rule expected any day, what are the possible impacts of shortening the annual enrollment period? CHIR’s Rachel Schwab takes a look. Continue reading

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