The Congressional Budget Office Definition of “Health Insurance” Leaves Room for Wide Coverage Gaps, Discrimination

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) frequently estimates how policy proposals will affect rates of health insurance coverage. To make these assessments, the agency relies on a definition including coverage that can discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and fail to cover key health services like prescription drugs, practices that are outlawed in the individual health insurance market under the ACA. CHIR’s Rachel Schwab takes a look at the CBO’s current definition of health insurance, and the impact it has on health insurance reform efforts. Continue reading

Labor Day in a Pandemic: The Varnish of “Gold Standard” Employer Coverage is Wearing Thin

CHIRblog took a break for Labor Day, but in light of the holiday, we continue to think about problems workers face getting access to affordable health insurance. Employer plans are often touted as the “gold standard” in health insurance. But millions of workers with job-based plans are underinsured, facing high cost sharing and premiums, and the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating problems with inadequate coverage as well as insurance access. Continue reading

One Victim of the COVID-19 Pandemic? State Health Policy

State legislative sessions are typically a flurry of health policy activity. In recent years, state lawmakers have taken action to stabilize their insurance markets and increase access to coverage. But like so many other constants we have come to rely on, state legislative sessions took a hit this year from the novel coronavirus pandemic, putting current and future state policy initiatives in jeopardy. Continue reading

Idaho Misses Opportunities to Help Consumers Get Affordable, Comprehensive Health Coverage During COVID-19 Pandemic

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, states have taken charge of responding to the public health emergency. As a state that runs its own health insurance marketplace, Idaho has tools at its disposal to help consumers enroll in comprehensive coverage. But like the federal marketplace, Idaho decided not to wield all of them, leaving large marketplace enrollment barriers and instead promoting alternative and less comprehensive coverage. Continue reading

COVID-19 Response: States That Run Their Own ACA Marketplace Are Better Positioned to Help Consumers Get Covered

During the current public health and financial crises brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces offer a crucial safety net. States that run their own marketplaces have a significant advantage in helping consumers obtain comprehensive, affordable health insurance. CHIR’s Rachel Schwab looks at some opportunities for state-based marketplaces that don’t exist for states relying on the federal marketplace. Continue reading

A Placeholder Won’t Protect People with Pre-Existing Conditions

President Donald Trump has voiced an “ironclad pledge” to protect patients with pre-existing conditions, but his 2021 budget proposal, which repeats this promise, is silent on how he would do that. At the same time, the Trump administration has taken numerous actions that undermine the Affordable Care Act, including its support of a lawsuit to overturn the ACA and its key protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Continue reading

The Texas Two-Step: Implementation of State Balance Billing Law Reveals Gaps in Consumer Protections

In Congress and state legislatures across the country, policymakers are debating fixes to surprise medical bills. The federal government has yet to enact comprehensive reforms, but a number of states have taken steps to protect consumers. One such state is Texas, which last year enacted a new law holding consumers harmless in situations that commonly lead to surprise medical bills. However, the state’s new protections were almost gutted due to an implementation loophole, a cautionary tale for federal and state policymakers. CHIR’s Rachel Schwab takes a look at what happened in Texas. Continue reading

This Thanksgiving, We’re Thankful for the Affordable Care Act’s Protections

It’s that time of year again. Our team at CHIR is heading far and wide for Thanksgiving, and as we gather around different tables, we’ll be sure to give thanks. One thing on our minds this season is our gratitude for the ongoing insurance protections provided by the Affordable Care Act. CHIR’s Rachel Schwab highlights some of the reforms we’re grateful for. Continue reading

Navigator Guide FAQ of the Week: Can I Get Help Paying for Coverage and Care?

Open Enrollment is in full swing in all 50 states and Washington, DC. As consumers consider their coverage options, many will qualify for subsidies to help pay for premiums and out-of-pocket expenses if they enroll in a plan through the marketplace. Throughout the enrollment period, CHIR is highlighting frequently asked questions from our recently updated Navigator Resource Guide. In this installation, we answer questions about financial assistance available to individuals and families. Continue reading

As Maryland Charts a New Course for Lowering Barriers to Coverage, Feds Could Raise Them

Maryland is implementing a program that offers a new, easy way to enroll in comprehensive and affordable health insurance. At the same time, the federal government is considering ending auto renewal in the marketplaces, which facilitates millions of enrollments each year. CHIR’s Rachel Schwab takes a look at Maryland’s new program, and how state and federal enrollment policy can impact consumers’ access to coverage. Continue reading