House Hearings Shed Light on a Key Policy Priority: Protecting People with Pre-Existing Conditions

After becoming a rallying cry in the midterm elections, pre-existing condition protections have taken center stage on Capitol Hill: in January and February, the House of Representatives held three hearings about protecting people with pre-existing conditions, before the Ways & Means Committee, the Education & Labor Committee, and the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee. As the ACA faces legal challenges in federal court, these proceedings set the scene for how this policy debate will play out in Congress and offer insight into potential legislative action. Continue reading

Stakeholders Respond to the Proposed Health Reimbursement Arrangement Rule. Part I: State Insurance Departments and Marketplaces

In October 2018, the Trump administration proposed rules to expand the use of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) by loosening current federal limitations. The administration’s proposal would allow employers to offer employees the tax-advantaged accounts to assist with health care expenses, including premiums, in lieu of employer-sponsored coverage. To understand the potential impact of the proposals, CHIR reviewed comments from various stakeholder groups. For the first blog in our series, Rachel Schwab summarizes comments from state marketplaces and state insurance departments. Continue reading

Short-Term Health Plans Sold Through Out-of-State Associations Threaten Consumer Protections

The expansion of short-term policies has raised concerns that they may be deceptively marketed, with some sellers leading consumers to believe they are buying a comprehensive policy when they are not. While twenty-four states have sought to regulate short-term plans, their efforts may be undermined by a loophole that allows the policies to be sold through out-of-state associations – a practice we found to be quite common. Continue reading

Translating Coverage into Care: Answers to Common Post-Enrollment Questions

Open Enrollment has ended in the majority of states, and almost 8.5 million people signed up for coverage through HealthCare.gov. As consumers begin to use their 2019 plans, a host of questions about covered services, cost sharing, provider networks and more are sure to crop up. Luckily, CHIR has answers to frequently asked post-enrollment questions in our recently updated Navigator Resource Guide. Continue reading

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