Updating the Essential Health Benefit Benchmark Plan: An Unexpected Path to Fill Coverage Gaps?

Many feared that Trump administration rules issued in 2018 would result in less-generous benefits in Affordable Care Act health plans. However, five states have now enhanced their essential health benefit benchmark plans under these rules. In a post for the State Health & Value Strategies program, CHIR’s Sabrina Corlette and Manatt Health’s Joel Ario examine how these states were able to do so. Continue reading

Aggressive Medical Debt Collections: COVID-related Consumer Protections Could be a Model for Long-term Relief

A new investigative report shows that even the COVID-19 crisis has not stopped many hospital systems from using aggressive collections practices to collect on unpaid medical debt. CHIR’s Maanasa Kona takes a deep dive into the problem of medical debt and aggressive collections practices, and how the government can step in to protect consumers. 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

Partial Vindication for Insurers in Cost-sharing Reduction Litigation: Implications for State Insurance Regulation

Health insurers won a partial victory against the government in federal court last week, when the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that the Trump administration breached a contract with insurers to reimburse them for cost-sharing reduction plans offered under the Affordable Care Act. In her latest “Expert Perspective” for the State Health & Value Strategies program, CHIR’s Sabrina Corlette breaks down the decision and its implications for state insurance regulation. Continue reading

As Insurers Sit on Extra Cash, Are Premium Relief and MLR Rebates the Best Use of Funds?

While the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted financial catastrophe across the country, the private health insurance industry appears to be thriving. CHIR researchers Megan Houston and Sabrina Corlette consider whether the traditional use of these extra funds is the best way to spend them and discuss opportunities that states may have to redirect money towards COVID-19 testing. Continue reading

Getting It Done: Consensus On Surprise Billing Protections

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk that patients will experience surprise bills for out-of-network health care services. In their latest post for the Health Affairs blog, CHIR’s Jack Hoadley, Kevin Lucia, and Katie Keith discuss the latest Congressional and administrative efforts to protect people from surprise balance billing and chart a path for a potential federal solution. Continue reading

New Report Provides State Policy Recommendations on How to Protect Consumers, Reduce Disparities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic presents unprecedented threats to health and safety, and exacerbates existing inequities that continue to jeopardize the wellbeing of millions of Americans. To help state policymakers during a time of great upheaval and uncertainty, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Consumer Representatives put together recommendations on access to coverage and care, health equity and racial justice, and other state policy issues. Continue reading

Imposing The Costs Of Workplace Coronavirus Testing On Group Plan Coverage Would Place An Excessive Burden On Essential Workers

To re-open safely, many employers will need to rely on regular testing for the virus that causes COVID-19. But doing so is expensive, and some have called for it to be financed by employers’ health benefit plans. In a new post for the Health Affairs blog, CHIR’s Sabrina Corlette joins the Urban Institute’s Linda Blumberg and Michael Simpson in a look at the data. They find that relying on group plan coverage alone would place an excessive burden on workers. Continue reading