Stable Rates Reflect Strength of ACA Marketplaces

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many predicted that insurers would need to dramatically hike their premiums. As it turned out, the opposite occurred, with average rates declining for 2021. In an Expert Perspective post for the State Health & Value Strategies program, CHIR’s Sabrina Corlette and Manatt Health’s Joel Ario examine the factors that led to a stable year for ACA insurance rates. Continue reading

COVID-19 and MLR Guidance on Risk Corridor Recoveries: State Options for Restoring Funds to Policyholders and the Public

The Supreme Court has required the federal government to reimburse health insurers for an estimated $12.3 billion in unpaid risk corridor funds and the Trump administration recently published guidance to insurers that affects the amount to be returned to policyholders. In an Expert Perspective for the State Health & Value Strategies program, Sabrina Corlette and Jason Levitis consider the effects of this guidance and state options for redirecting insurers’ extra cash to benefit policyholders and the public. Continue reading

Ensuring Access to the COVID-19 Vaccine for Enrollees in Private Health Insurance: A Roadmap for States

States and the federal government are preparing for the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine. But just as important as distributing and administering the vaccine is figuring out how to pay for it. In her latest “expert perspective” for the State Health & Value Strategies program, Sabrina Corlette discusses recent federal efforts to ensure that private health plans cover the full costs of a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as options for states to close potential gaps in coverage. 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

Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing for Essential Workers: Considerations and Challenges for State Policymakers

States are being forced to decide how to target, administer, and finance asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for essential workers in the midst of a global pandemic and their own budget crises. In a new post for the Commonwealth Fund’s To the Point blog, Kevin Lucia, Sara Rosenbaum, Sabrina Corlette and Madeline O’Brien identify challenges and considerations for state policymakers. 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

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