Janet Weiner

What Is "Affordable" Health Care?

Issue Brief
Nov. 1, 2018

Although the “affordability” of health care is a common concern, the term is rarely defined.This joint Penn LDI and United States of Care issue brief considers affordability as an economic concept, as a kitchen-table budget issue for individuals and families, and as a threshold in current policy. It reviews a range of measures that capture the cost burden for individuals and families with different forms of coverage, in different financial circumstances, and with different health concerns.

Exploring the Decline of Narrow Networks on the ACA Marketplaces in 2017

Issue Brief
Nov. 6, 2017

The prevalence of narrow provider networks on the ACA Marketplace is trending down. In 2017, 21% of plans had narrow networks, down from 25% in 2016. The largest single factor was that 70% of plans from National carriers exited the market and these plans had narrower networks than returning plans. Exits account for more than half of the decline in the prevalence of narrow networks, with the rest attributed to broadening networks among stable plans, particularly among Blues carriers. The narrow network strategy is expanding among traditional Medicaid carriers and remains steady among provider-based carriers and regional/local carriers.

Narrow Networks on the Individual Marketplace in 2017

Issue Brief
Sep. 14, 2017

This Issue Brief describes the breadth of physician networks on the ACA marketplaces in 2017. We find that the overall rate of narrow networks is 21%, which is a decline since 2014 (31%) and 2016 (25%). Narrow networks are concentrated in plans sold on state-based marketplaces, at 42%, compared to 10% of plans on federally-facilitated marketplaces. Issuers that have traditionally offered Medicaid coverage have the highest prevalence of narrow network plans at 36%, with regional/local plans and provider-based plans close behind at 27% and 30%. We also find large differences in narrow networks by state and by plan type. 

Effects of the ACA on Health Care Cost Containment

Issue Brief
Mar. 2, 2017

This brief reviews the evidence on how key ACA provisions have affected the growth of health care costs. Coverage expansions produced a predictable jump in health care spending, amidst a slowdown that began a decade ago. Although we have not returned to the double-digit increases of the past, the authors find little evidence that ACA cost containment provisions produced changes necessary to “bend the cost curve.” Cost control will likely play a prominent role in the next round of health reform and will be critical to sustaining coverage gains in the long term.

A Heck of a Day

Jul. 13, 2016

To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think -- spend some time time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that's a heck of a day.”

― Jim Valvano

For Third Enrollment Period, Marketplaces Expand Decision Support Tools to Assist Consumers

Research Brief
Apr. 4, 2016

In Health Affairs, Charlene Wong and colleagues go shopping on the most recent iteration of ACA marketplaces. They find added features to help consumers browse and pick a health plan, including total cost estimators and provider look-up tools. Marketplaces differ in how they estimate out-of-pocket costs and how they display plan choices, although most continue to present plans in premium order.

How Nursing Affects Medicare’s Outcome-based Hospital Payments

Data Brief
Nov. 12, 2015

Improving value is one of the central aims of recent and ongoing health care reform. In our last LDI/INQRI Brief, we reviewed the evidence of the role of nurses in increasing the value of health care. In this companion brief, we dig deeper into the three reimbursement strategies that Medicare uses to align hospital financial incentives with quality of care, and we calculate the potential effects of nursing-sensitive quality indicators on hospital payments.

Increasing the Value of Health Care: The Role of Nurses

Issue Brief
Oct. 15, 2015

Increasing health care value has become a central objective of payment policies, insurance design and purchasing, and patient and provider decision-making. The word “value” appeared in the title of seven sections of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and earlier this year CMS set a goal of having 50 percent of reimbursement based on value. 

State Variation in Narrow Networks on the ACA Marketplaces

Data Brief
Aug. 24, 2015

In June, we presented national data from one of the first attempts to measure the size of provider networks in plans sold on the health
insurance marketplaces. We used simple “T-shirt” sizes to categorize networks in a way that could help consumers quickly grasp the
choices they were making. In this Data Brief, we present network sizes summarized up to the level of the state and the rating area.
This analysis should help regulators and consumers assess and understand the trade-off between premiums and network size as we
enter the next open enrollment period.

The Skinny on Narrow Networks in Health Insurance Marketplace Plans

Data Brief
Jun. 23, 2015

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has prompted health plans to increase their use of “narrow networks” of providers as a cost containment strategy. The Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI) has assembled the first integrated dataset of physician networks for the plans offered on the ACA marketplace. This data brief uses this new resource to describe the breadth of the physician networks in plans sold on the state and federal marketplaces. 

The Affordable Care Act and Minority Health: Part IV (Workforce Diversity)

Jan. 15, 2015

As the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces begin their second year of open enrollment, LDI examines the current and potential impact of the ACA on the health of minority populations. This fourth post of a five-part series describes the current initiatives to diversify the health care workforce with greater minority participation.

Primary Care Shortages: More Than a Head Count

Issue Brief
Nov. 21, 2014

The existence of a primary care physician shortage, even prior to the ACA, is not universally accepted. A new report by the Institute on Medicine found “no credible evidence” that the nation faces a looming physician shortage in primary care specialties. There is greater consensus about a maldistribution of physicians, in terms of specialty, geography, and practice settings. 

Essential Health Benefits: 50-State Variations on a Theme

Data Brief
Oct. 22, 2014

All qualified health plans under the Affordable Care Act must cover a package of essential health benefits (EHBs) equal in scope to a typical employer plan. The law laid out 10 general categories of services that EHBs must cover, but did not itemize those services. Each state is allowed to identify an existing plan as a benchmark for these EHBs. The result of this policy is that EHBs vary from state to state, often because of a legacy of different state-mandated benefits (such as treatments for autism, infertility, or temporomandibular joint disorders). 

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