State Insurance Department Consumer Alerts on Short-Term Plans Come Up Short

Open Enrollment for 2019 has ended in most states, but consumers are sure to be bombarded with sales pitches for alternative insurance products well beyond the December 15th deadline. Short-term plans are often marketed as lower-priced substitutes for ACA-compliant coverage, even though they cover far less. Since the Trump administration lowered federal guardrails on short-term plans, it has become particularly important for state insurance departments to highlight the limitations of these products. CHIR looked at insurance department websites to see what information was available for consumers regarding short-term plans. Continue reading

New Georgetown Report: Assessing the Effectiveness of State-Based Reinsurance

As state legislatures across the country prepare to convene in 2019, improving access to affordable health coverage will likely be on the agenda. Several newly elected officials have expressed an interest in establishing a state reinsurance program, following in the footsteps of a handful of states who have utilized the Affordable Care Act’s 1332 waivers for this purpose. As reinsurance gains ground as a state-level effort to promote market stability, stakeholders can learn from the experience of states that have already implemented reinsurance programs. In a new report from Georgetown, authors Rachel Schwab, Emily Curran, and Sabrina Corlette evaluate progress in the three states that have operational reinsurance programs: Alaska, Minnesota, and Oregon. Continue reading

Navigator Guide FAQ of the Week: Can Insurers Ask About Your Health History?

With just one month left in the open enrollment period for most of the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, we’ve updated our Navigator Resource Guide to reflect all of the federal health policy changes that have occurred over the last year and have provided answers to hundreds of frequently asked questions (FAQs). In light of the recent wave of health care-related robocalls from scammers, our FAQ of the Week focuses on: Is an insurer allowed to ask me about my health history? Continue reading

States Opt to Run their Own Exchanges to Save Money, Reclaim Autonomy

Last month, the Board of New Mexico’s health insurance exchange voted to transition from HealthCare.gov to a state-based exchange. The state will undertake the task of building its own eligibility and enrollment platform with the hopes of launching a website in time for the 2021 plan year. This is the same exchange that, in 2015, called the federal platform HealthCare.gov the “safest, most risk-free way to proceed.” So, what changed? CHIR’s Rachel Schwab looks at the reasons behind the growing call to leave HealthCare.gov. Continue reading

The Trump Administration’s Association Health Plans Emerge: What Early Announcements Tell Us About this New Market

This past summer, the Department of Labor (DOL) finalized a regulation calling for the expansion of association health plans (AHPs) for small businesses and self-employed individuals. There continue to be significant questions about the impact of the rule, including how many associations will form, the role major medical insurers will play in AHP administration and marketing, and the extent to which AHPs can offer cheaper premiums than plans that must meet federal and state consumer protection standards. Now, with the rule for fully insured AHPs effective on September 1, we are starting to see AHPs emerge as groups take advantage of the relaxed requirements. Continue reading

New Report Shows Role of Medicaid Expansion in Rural Area, Small Town Health Coverage

Under the Affordable Care Act, 33 states and the District of Columbia expanded Medicaid, greatly increasing coverage under the public program. In a new report, our sister center,
the Center for Children and Families, examines the impact of Medicaid expansion on health coverage in rural areas and small towns, communities that for many years have faced high premiums and limited choices on the private insurance market. Continue reading

House Farm Bill Supports AHPs with Federal Grants—Following in the Footsteps of the ACA’s CO-OP Program

The Farm Bill currently being debated in a House-Senate conference committee enables the Secretary of Agriculture to create a loan and grant program to assist in the establishment of agricultural association health plans (AHPs). The bill’s injection of federal funding for the purpose of creating new health insurance options is strikingly reminiscent of the ACA’s CO-OP Program. As Congress considers directing federal dollars into AHPs, we look back at the experience of the CO-OP program, which demonstrates just how difficult it is to build a new insurance company. Continue reading

Federal Flexibility Grants Highlight State Priorities for Market Stability

Last month, the Department of Health & Human Services awarded $8.6 million in grants to 30 states and the District of Columbia to provide additional support to implement certain ACA market reforms, including guaranteed issue, guaranteed renewal, and the Essential Health Benefits. CHIR’s Rachel Schwab took a look at how states plan to use the federal funding, and what tops the list of state market stabilization and consumer protection priorities. Continue reading

Cities File Suit Against the Administration for Deliberately Failing to Enforce the ACA

On August 2, a coalition of cities filed a federal lawsuit against President Trump and the Department of Health and Human Services, alleging that the administration has “intentionally and unconstitutionally” sabotaged the Affordable Care Act. The complaint alleges that the President has increased the cost of health coverage by discouraging enrollment, stoking uncertainty in the insurance markets, and reducing consumer choice. CHIR’s Emily Curran breaks down their complaint and evidence of alleged harm. Continue reading

Health Care Sharing Ministries: What Are the Risks to Consumers and Insurance Markets?

Health Care Sharing Ministries (HCSMs) are a form of health coverage in which members – who typically share a religious belief – make monthly payments to cover expenses of other members. HCSMs do not have to comply with the consumer protections of the ACA and may provide value for some individuals, but pose risks for others. We interviewed officials in 13 states and analyzed state laws in all states to better understand state regulators’ perspectives on regulation of HCSMs. Continue reading