Promising Steps to Strengthen Marketplace Risk Pools Could be in Vain, if Affordable Care Act is Repealed

While critics have been describing the demise of the marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act, the Obama Administration has been taking steps to strengthen the risk pool and to ensure its long-term sustainability. These promising steps are now at risk under the threat of repeal with nothing to replace approach that Congressional leaders and the new administration seem to be taking. At risk and in jeopardy is the coverage of millions of people. CHIR’s Sandy Ahn takes a look. Continue reading

Tick Tock: An Unforgiving Calendar for Health Plans Makes Orderly “Transition” for Affordable Care Act Repeal Unlikely

The incoming Congress and Administration have pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act but hope to minimize disruption by providing for a transition period. However, insurers must make key decisions about health plans and pricing far in advance of bringing those plans to market. In an ongoing series of articles for The Commonwealth Fund, CHIR experts Sabrina Corlette and Kevin Lucia partner with Julie Andrews of Wakely Consulting Group to examine how the uncertainty created by Congressional action could result in far fewer plan choices and significantly higher premiums for consumers. Continue reading

Twelve Days of Coverage

Despite the gloom and doom surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), when we look back at what the ACA has achieved, there is cause to celebrate this holiday season. Six years after President Barack Obama signed the ACA into law, we have the lowest uninsured rate and record enrollment numbers on Healthcare.Gov, showing just how much people need and want comprehensive health insurance. As we hum along to our favorite holiday hits, CHIR has composed a new carol to pay homage to the monumental health care law that has led to unprecedented coverage and consumer protections. Happy holidays! Continue reading

From Acne to EcZema: The Return of Medical Underwriting Puts Millions at Risk for Losing Coverage or Higher Premiums

Medical underwriting, outlawed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is a practice used by insurance companies to assess a consumer’s health status. In the event of an ACA repeal, millions of people could lose coverage, pay higher premiums, or receive inadequate benefits that exclude essential health services, all based on a pre-existing condition. While many of us don’t see ourselves as falling under that category, the list of health conditions that qualify you for the chopping block may surprise you. Continue reading

A Lot to Lose: What’s on the Line for Women if the Affordable Care Act is Repealed

It’s the holiday season, but rather than visions of sugar plums dancing above our heads, we have visions of mammogram machines, birth control, doctor offices, and medical bills. Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), women faced numerous barriers obtaining affordable health care. After years of insurance industry practices like gender rating and pre-existing condition exclusions, the ACA ushered in a new era for women’s health, eliminating those discriminatory and unfair insurance practices from the insurance market. Continue reading

Though the ACA Faces Tough Critics, Millions are Having an Easier Time Paying Medical Bills

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has extended insurance coverage to 22 million people, but the law’s critics often point to the high out-of-pocket costs in some of the ACA’s marketplace health plans. And while many people do face high deductibles and cost-sharing for health care services, a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that dramatically fewer people are struggling to pay medical bills, compared to what they faced before the ACA. Continue reading

The Affordable Care Act prohibits discriminatory benefit design, but how is that enforced?

The Affordable Care Act put in place new protections to prevent health plan benefit designs that discriminate against people based on their health needs. But implementing and enforcing those protections have been easier said than done. CHIR experts Sabrina Corlette and Kevin Lucia take a look at regulatory lessons learned and challenges ahead. Continue reading

In the Midst of Federal ACA Woes, States Play an Important Consumer Protection Role

In Washington, our health policy minds are on system overload. Since the election last week, the town is buzzing about the President-elect and new Congress’ promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as one of their first legislative actions. At the same time, they have also pledged allegiance to some of the law’s market reforms. Since most of those reforms are enforced at the state level, a continued state role will be critical to preserving these vital consumer protections. Continue reading

Soldiering On

This past week’s stunning election results have put the future of the Affordable Care Act – and health coverage for millions of people – in jeopardy. What the new President and Congress will replace the law with is anyone’s guess. Sabrina Corlette, Kevin Lucia and JoAnn Volk discuss how we at CHIR will continue our mission of improving access to affordable and adequate insurance through reasoned, evidence-based research and analysis. Continue reading