Regular readers know that I've developed a tradition over the past three years of tracking the average unsubsidized premium rate increases for the ACA-compliant individual market, painstakingly poring over the rate filings for every carrier in every state and running a weighted average by their market share.
Every year there are numerous challenges and headaches which get in the way, including things as obvious as "not every carrier publishes the number of enrollees they have covered" to complex situations like "carrier X is dropping out of the on-exchange market in half the counties of the state but is sticking around in the off-exchange market". In addition, many carriers submit an initial rate request...followed a few months later by a revised one...neither of which might end up matching the final premium changes approved by state regulators. Sometimes there may be 2-3 more revised filings along the way which muddy the waters even further.
Over the past few weeks, in the midst of the failed Republican-sponsored "ACA stabilization bill" known as Alexander-Collins (which laughably included "Bipartisan" in the title evne though it had changed dramatically from the actual bipartisan bills which Senators Patty Murray and Bill Nelson had worked with Lamar Alexander and Susan Collins on last fall), Democrats in both the House and Senate introduced real ACA stabilization/improvement bills of their own.
Whenever the discussion of what the next Big Move for healthcare policy should be comes up in Democratic/progressive circles, the incredibly difficult path which had to be paved to get the Affordable Care Act passed in 2009-2010 is often brought up as an example of how difficult it is to make even minor changes, much less major ones.
That gets a bit repetitive after awhile, however, so here's another excellent case study from 20 years earlier: The Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988.
Retreat in Congress; The Catastrophic-Care Debacle - A special report.; How the New Medicare Law Fell on Hard Times in a Hurry
With the benefit of hindsight, legislators and policy makers in both parties now agree that the seeds of disaster for the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act were sown well before it became law barely a year ago.
Louisiana officials will have to notify around 60,000 people who are elderly or disabled in early May that they are slated to lose their Medicaid benefits in July as a result of the Legislature's stalemate over the state budget and taxes.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has proposed eliminating some Medicaid programs that provide long-term care in order to cope with a $994 million budget deficit. The governor said he doesn't want to put forward such cuts, but he doesn't have much of a choice given the state's financial restrictions starting July 1, when the new budget year begins.
The Louisiana Department of Health is legally obligated to warn people about what might cuts be coming in July two months ahead of time, even if the programs are ultimately spared.
Here is our call to action for employers: Guide employees of any eligibility status to health coverage, whether employer-sponsored or government-supported, because it will benefit both employees and your company.
The main thrust of the article is that while most employers offer some sort of healthcare coverage option to their employees (in fact, most did so before the ACA mandated it), most of them don't appear to make a whole lot of effort to actually get the employees to enroll in that coverage...and even fewer make any sort of effort to encourage their staff to enroll in other types of healthcare coverage outside of the employer plan.
They include several charts and graphs, but this is the key one to me:
Gov. Gary Herbert signed a measure Tuesday to give more than 70,000 needy Utahns access to government health coverage, ending years of failed attempts on Capitol Hill to expand Medicaid in the state.
But whether House Bill 472 ever takes effect still remains uncertain. Under President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Utah law needs approval by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which has sent mixed signals on whether it will fully sign off.
Even if CMS does approve HB472, it will likely be about a year — even on an aggressive schedule — before the state can begin enrolling people for coverage. Meanwhile, a competing Utah citizens initiative that would expand Medicaid coverage more widely than HB472 also continues to gather signatures for a spot on November’s ballot.
While many want Democrats in Congress to focus on improving the way the ACA is working rather than trying to pass a national health care plan, there is support for such a proposal. This month’s Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds six in ten (59 percent) favor a national health plan, or Medicare-for-all, in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan.
MILWAUKEE -- State insurance commissioners and officials coming out of a closed-door meeting with CMS said the administration announced it will not finalize the rule on longer duration short-term plans until the fall and will delay implementation of that rule until January 2019 -- though CMS disputed this characterization of the meeting when asked by Inside Health Policy . Several sources stressed that the delay of the rule means that issuers will be unable to factor in the potential impact...
I've obviously already written a bunch of stuff about this, including links to a few impact projection analyses, but this one was put together by Avalere Health on behalf of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), which is one of the two major insurance carrier lobbying groups (the other one is BCBSA). On the surface you may expect a whitewash: "Oh, look at that, a report commissioned by Big Insurance is releasing a report claiming that these policies would be awesomesauce, big surprise!"
For some time now, I've been railing against Donald Trump's executive order pushing for the expansion of both "Short Term, Limited Duration" plans as well as "Association Plans". I've scornfully referred to his EO with the hashtag #ShortAssPlans.
Something which has gotten lost in the shuffle, however, is that I don't think short-term plans should necessarily be scrapped altogether, at least until we're able to achieve a comprehensive, universal coverage system in the future. Under our current patchwork heatlhcare system, I do think they serve a purpose for certain people in certain circumstances. I just think they need to be strongly regulated and limited in scope, partly to prevent siphoning off healthy people from the individual market risk pool...but partly to prevent people from being hit with financial catastrophe in the event of unexpected high medical expenses.
The problem is that Trump's executive order--which would effectively open the floodgates for them to be mutated into year-round plans, completely destroying one of the major points of the ACA in the first place.
With all the discussion about subsidized enrollees, unsubsidized enrollees, short-term plans, association plans, health sharing ministries and so forth swirling around the ACA stabilization/CSR reimbursement payment/Silver Loading debate, I just wanted to take a quick moment to remind everyone that "The Uninsured" isn't a single amorphous blob; it consists of several fairly specific subsets.
The good news is that the Kaiser Family Foundation is among the most reliable sources for this sort of data in the business. The bad news is that their estimates are out of date--this analysis/breakout was last updated in October 2017, but the actual survey data is from 2016. Needless to say, a lot has changed in the intervening year and a half...namely, the Trump Administration and two full ACA Open Enrollment Periods.