Insurance Premium Surcharges for Smokers May Jeopardize Access to Coverage

While the ACA limits the power of insurance companies to charge higher prices to consumers based on health status and other factors, the law doesn’t stop insurers from imposing a premium surcharge on tobacco users that can raise the cost of coverage by as much as 50 percent. In a new blog post for the Commonwealth Fund, CHIR researchers discuss the pros and cons of tobacco rating and examine why some states have chosen to ban the practice. Continue reading

Implementing the Affordable Care Act: Revisiting the ACA’s Essential Health Benefits Requirements

Within the next several months, federal officials must decide whether to maintain or modify their “transitional” approach to implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits (EHB) requirements. In a new issue brief for the Commonwealth Fund, CHIR researchers examine how states have exercised their flexibility under the current EHB rules. Continue reading

New Report Finds that, Under the ACA, Consumers Nationwide Are Experiencing Improved Protections in the Individual Insurance Market

The ACA includes numerous consumer protections designed to remedy shortcomings in the availability, affordability, adequacy, and transparency of individual market insurance. However, because states continue to be the primary regulators of health insurance and implementers of these requirements, consumers are likely to experience some of these new protections differently, depending on where they live. CHIR’s latest issue brief finds that consumers nationwide will enjoy improved protections in each area targeted by the reforms. Continue reading

The Affordable Care Act’s Disclosure Rules: Can They Improve Coverage, Raise Care Quality, and Cut Costs?

The Affordable Care Act is designed to expand access to affordable and adequate health insurance, improve the quality and efficiency of care, and constrain rising health costs. While the closely watched insurance marketplaces are key to these efforts, among the most promising provisions is the law’s new transparency framework. In this latest in a series of blogs for the Commonwealth Fund, Justin Giovannelli, Kevin Lucia and Sarah Dash take a look at one important but overlooked tool. Continue reading

2014 Brings New Protections for Consumers – and New Oversight Responsibilities for States

2014 brings sweeping new health insurance protections for consumers, but for those reforms to be realized state insurance regulators need to make sure health plans comply with the law. A recent report released by the NAIC consumer representatives details best practices and provides recommendations to states to improve enforcement and better protect consumers. Sabrina Corlette has this overview. Continue reading

The Affordable Care Act’s Early Renewal Loophole: What’s at Stake and What States Are Doing to Close It

The Affordable Care Act includes sweeping insurance reforms to improve the affordability and adequacy of coverage. However, some insurers have begun encouraging their customers to renew their coverage ahead of schedule in order to delay implementing these reforms for up to 12 months. In a post that originally appeared on the Commonwealth Fund blog, Christine Monahan and Sabrina Corlette describe how insurers are taking advantage of a loophole in the law and summarize states’ efforts to prohibit or limit the practice. Continue reading