Insurers, State Regulators Avoid Bare Counties in 2018, but Seek Long-Term Solutions

As we near the end of the second week of a so-far successful Open Enrollment, uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act remains a challenge. As insurers and state regulators prepared for the 2018 plan year, they addressed questions of whether Congress or the Trump Administration would make major changes to the law. This led to a situation in several states where some or all counties seemed likely to have no insurance plan available for residents seeking marketplace coverage. In a new issue brief for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, CHIR experts examine the actions of six states that faced the prospect of bare counties for 2018. Continue reading

State-Based Marketplaces Push Ahead, Despite Federal Resistance

Open enrollment for 2018 started last week on the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces. Along with its executive actions designed to weaken marketplaces operations, the Trump administration has taken a number of steps over the past year to curb marketplace enrollment. While the administration has scaled back efforts to provide health coverage, state-based marketplaces have taken a different approach. In their latest post for The Commonwealth Fund’s To The Point blog, CHIR’s Emily Curran and Justin Giovannelli share their findings from interviews with executives at 15 of the 17 states that operate their own marketplaces. Continue reading

States Step Up to Protect Consumers in Wake of Cuts to ACA Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments

In the wake of President Trump’s decision to cut off payments for a key ACA subsidy for low-income enrollees, the impact felt by consumers and insurers will vary from state to state, depending on the actions of insurance regulators and insurance companies. In their latest post for The Commonwealth Fund’s To The Point blog, CHIR’s Sabrina Corlette, Kevin Lucia, and Maanasa Kona share findings from their 50-state review of insurers’ responses to the loss of cost-sharing reduction payments for 2018. Continue reading

Trump’s Executive Order: Can Association Health Plans Accomplish What Congress Could Not?

In the wake of failed Congressional efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Trump has threatened to issue an executive order that could effectively roll back key protections for people with pre-existing conditions. In their latest post for the Commonwealth Fund’s To the Point blog, CHIR’s Kevin Lucia and Sabrina Corlette assess the proposed regulatory changes and their impact on consumers and insurance markets. Continue reading

ACA “Bare Counties”: Policy Options to Ensure Access Must Address Longer-Term Stability and Competition

September 27th marks the day most insurers have to formally decide whether they’ll stay in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces in 2018. While the danger of bare counties seems to have subsided, many more counties appear likely to have just one insurer offering marketplace coverage. In their latest blog post for the Commonwealth Fund, CHIR experts look at the policy options for ensuring access and competition. Continue reading

Down to the Wire: Indecision on ACA Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments Creates Confusion for States

The Trump administration’s indecision over whether to reimburse insurance companies for Affordable Care Act cost-sharing reduction plans has created considerable confusion and complexity for insurers and the state departments of insurance that regulate them. In their latest blog post for The Commonwealth Fund, Sabrina Corlette and Kevin Lucia review the directives that state insurance regulators have provided to their health insurers, and how those directives will likely affect consumers, insurers, and federal taxpayers. Continue reading

Short-Term Health Plans: Still Bad for Consumers and the Individual Market

Some state and federal policymakers are urging HHS to relax Obama-era rules for short-term limited duration health plans, arguing they provide a cheaper alternative to ACA-compliant coverage. But a close examination of these plans reveals significant risks for consumers and the ACA marketplaces as a whole. In their latest post for the Commonwealth Fund’s To the Point blog, CHIR experts Dania Palanker, Kevin Lucia, and Emily Curran share the results of a deep dive into what’s covered – and what’s not – in short-term plans. Continue reading

Amid Market Uncertainty, Trump Administration Retreats from Health Plan Oversight

In mid-April, the Trump administration announced it would stop monitoring marketplace plans for compliance with several important federal protections and instead defer to states. In their latest blog post for The Commonwealth Fund, Justin Giovannelli and Kevin Lucia explain the new changes to insurance oversight, and assess the potential impact of this federal deregulation for states and consumers. Continue reading

Signs of Marketplace Stability May Be Undercut by Federal Policy Uncertainty

Recently, analysts have found evidence of marketplace stability after a number of insurers scaled back participation and increased premiums for 2017. Despite this progress, federal efforts to repeal and replace the ACA have sparked growing concerns about the marketplace’s sustainability. To understand how insurers are faring in the marketplaces amidst federal reform activity, CHIR experts reviewed the first quarter financial earnings of seven of the largest, publicly traded insurers. Continue reading

New Georgetown Issue Brief: 50-state Survey of State Action to Protect Consumers from Surprise Medical Bills

Balance billing occurs when a consumer who is treated by an out-of-network provider is subsequently billed by that provider for the difference between what their health plan paid and what the provider charges. In their latest issue brief published by the Commonwealth Fund, Kevin Lucia, Jack Hoadley, and Ashley Williams analyzed laws in all fifty states and the District of Columbia to understand the current scope of state laws that protect consumers from balance billing. Continue reading