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

Simple Choice Plans Debut on Healthcare.Gov

Simple Choice plans, standardized benefit designs with fixed cost-sharing amounts and pre-deductible services, are new this year on Healthcare.gov. These types of plans can help consumers make “apples-to-apples” comparisons, but the the availability of such plans depends on insurer participation and local markets. Emily Curran and others here at CHIR take a look at the availability of Simple Choice plans on Healthcare.gov and find it’s a mixed bag. Continue reading

Health Plan Restrictions on Contraceptive Coverage: It’s like asking people to “renew their seat belt each month”

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has lowered financial barriers to birth control by requiring health plans to cover contraceptives at no cost sharing, but restrictions limit the availability and affordability of certain methods. While we’ve come a long way in ensuring access to this essential service, one hundred years after Margaret Sanger opened the first Planned Parenthood clinic in Brooklyn, nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. Addressing the unmet need for contraceptives and enabling women to maintain consistent and accurate drug use is a public health issue that affects insurers, consumers, and providers. Continue reading

The Affordable Care Act: Efforts to Address Barriers to Health Equity

Disparities in health insurance coverage and accessing health care continue to be a challenge in the United States. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made impressive strides to reduce overall health disparity by ensuring that health equity exists with health insurance coverage and accessing care. Current CHIR intern and guest blogger, Julia Embry, summarizes some of the ACA’s progress to address health equity in the United States. Continue reading

CHIR Expert Sabrina Corlette Talks Marketplace Problems, Possible Solutions at Alliance for Health Reform Briefing

On Monday, September 26th, CHIR’s very own Sabrina Corlette spoke at a briefing on the future of ACA marketplaces put on by the Alliance for Health Reform. Ms. Corlette joined representatives from Anthem, the American Action Forum, and Covered California to discuss the forecast for 2017 and potential policy solutions to expand coverage and access in the individual market. Continue reading

Increasing Deductibles in Employer Coverage: A Story Over a Decade in the Making

A graph has been making the rounds on the internet comparing cumulative increases in deductibles since 2011 to growth in inflation, worker earnings and health insurance premiums since it was posted as part of a Wall Street Journal blog. But the graph only tells part of the story – the part that occurred after 2011. The story of increasing deductibles in employer based health insurance is a story that is over a decade in the making.

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Quality Over Quantity? New Medicaid Network Adequacy Rules Illuminate Disparities Among Insurance Program Standards

Narrow network plans, or plans with a limited network of providers, present problems for consumers across the various coverage programs. In May, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released the final rule setting network adequacy standards for Medicaid and CHIP managed care plans. The new rule requires states to set quantitative standards for network adequacy; but since these standards don’t apply uniformly to other federal programs, network adequacy – and access to essential health services – varies greatly for consumers based on what program they fall under. Continue reading

Open Enrollment IV (OE4) is Just around the Corner: Things to Watch

While it seems like we just finished open enrollment, the next round for 2017 coverage is right around the corner. For open enrollment IV, officials will be implementing new policy changes in an effort to ensure not just a better shopping experience, but also to minimize disruptions of coverage and financial assistance. CHIR’s Sandy Ahn and Sabrina Corlette summarize some of the 2017 changes for FFMs below. Continue reading