Author Archive: JoAnn Volk

The Feds Crack Down on Sham Insurance: New Court Order to Protect Consumers from Deceptive Marketing

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took action against Benefytt Technologies, finding the company relied on deceptive websites, high-pressure sales tactics, and misleading information to push consumers into enrolling in junk plans, and then made it difficult for consumers to cancel their coverage. CHIR’s prior research on the marketing of junk plans shows that these tactics are neither new nor unique.

Congress, Administration Work to Meet Growing Need for Behavioral Health Care

The need for mental health and substance use disorder services is substantial and growing. One in five adults in the United States, or 53 million people, had a mental illness in 2020, including 14 million adults who had serious mental illness; forty million adults had a substance use disorder. In response to these troubling trends, policymakers are seeking multi-pronged approaches to provide greater access to services that treat and manage mental health and substance use disorders. CHIR’s JoAnn Volk outlines how both Congress and the Biden administration plan to improve access to behavioral health care.

The Pandemic Exacerbated Gaps in Mental Health Care Access, but State and Federal Enforcement of Parity Requirements Can Help Improve Coverage

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a greater need for mental health and substance use disorder (MH/SUD) services, but many have difficulty obtaining timely, affordable care, including the insured. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) requires plans and insurers that cover MH/SUD services to cover those services in parity with other medical benefits. CHIR’s JoAnn Volk looks at state and federal enforcement of mental health parity requirements, and what these efforts mean for consumers.

Instead of Encouraging Enrollment in Comprehensive Health Coverage, New Federal Guidance Requires Taxpayers to Subsidize Health Care Sharing Ministries

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS has published a proposed rule that would grant tax advantages reserved for insurance to individuals’ spending on health care sharing ministries, raising real questions about using federal funds to promote a coverage option that fails to provide consumers with financial protection for health care expenses. JoAnn Volk walks through the proposed rule and its potential implications for consumers.

New Report Examines State Options for Oversight of Risk-Bearing Provider Organizations

Value-based payment models are promoted as a way to transform our health care system from one that rewards value rather than the volume of health care services delivered. These models require providers to accept the risk of financial losses should spending on patients in their care exceed targeted levels. A new brief from State Health and Value Strategies, authored by researchers at Bailit Health and CHIR, explores potential state approaches to oversight of provider organizations that accept financial risk.

New Report Documents Barriers for People with Mental Illness, Substance Use Disorders Buying Coverage Before the ACA

In a report released this week by the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), Georgetown researchers Dania Palanker, JoAnn Volk and Kevin Lucia document the many ways that individual market plans available before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) fell far short of providing adequate, affordable coverage for people with mental illness and substance use disorders.

The opinions expressed here are solely those of the individual blog post authors and do not represent the views of Georgetown University, the Center on Health Insurance Reforms, any organization that the author is affiliated with, or the opinions of any other author who publishes on this blog.