The Affordable Care Act was designed to curb the growth of health care costs as it broadly expanded coverage. Through provider payment reductions, alternative payment models, and a commission to enforce growth targets, the ACA sought to rein in Medicare spending. Through a tax on high-cost employer plans and competition in individual marketplaces, it sought to influence spending in the private market as well. But a number of provisions were never implemented, limiting the ACA’s impact on costs. While statutory reductions in Medicare provider rates have slowed cost growth in Medicare, they are not likely to be sustainable in the long term. Changing the trajectory of cost growth remains a challenge for future reform efforts.
States have a long history of providing families with the option to purchase Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage for their children, but these programs have dwindled in recent years. In a February 2020 Health Affairs blog post, we review states’ experiences with buy-in programs for children, present updated information on the four remaining CHIP buy-in programs, and compare them to child-only coverage on the individual market. This document provides an overview of our findings.
By any measure, the United States has a level of health inequity rarely seen among developed nations. The roots of this inequity are deep and complex, and are a function of differences in income, education, race and segregation, and place. In this primer, we provide an overview of these distinctly American problems, and discuss programs and policies that might promote greater health equity in the population.
Calls for the establishment of a “public option,” which emerged during the debate on the Affordable Care Act, have reemerged in this election season. Some proposals base the public option on Medicare, while others on Medicaid. In this article, Wharton professor and LDI Senior Fellow Mark Pauly discusses the likely effects of a public option on private markets, using experience in Medicare Advantage as a guide. Will the public option become the preferred one, sweeping away the private market? Or can the public and private options peacefully coexist?
Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are groups of physicians and hospitals that jointly contract to care for a patient population. ACO contracts incentivize coordination of care across providers. This can lead to greater consolidation of physician practices, which can in turn generate higher costs and lower quality. Given this, the study asks, as ACOs enter health care markets, do physician practices grow larger?
In this national study, Medicare beneficiaries treated by new surgeons had poorer outcomes than those treated by experienced ones in the same hospitals. However, the type of operation and the patient’s emergency status – rather than physician inexperience – explains nearly all poorer outcomes. Higher-risk cases are disproportionately treated by new surgeons.
In the United States, people who need long-term care (LTC) face a system with large gaps in care, which they must rely on friends and family to fill. Medicaid finances the majority of paid LTC, but people must exhaust their resources to qualify. Medicare and private health insurance do not cover LTC, and the private market for long-term care insurance is failing. Unpaid family and friends provide most long-term services, but the value of their services is rarely reflected in debates about LTC financing and delivery. Beyond the value of the services, this system has costs to the economy, as spouses and adult children reduce paid work to care for their loved ones. As the population ages and families are less able to shoulder the burden of LTC, the current system may be unable to meet the growing need without an alternative, sustainable financing mechanism.
Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health care safety-net programs were the primary source of care for over 44 million uninsured people. While the ACA cut the number of uninsured substantially, about 30 million people remain uninsured, and many millions more are vulnerable to out-of-pocket costs beyond their resources. The need for the safety net remains, even as the distribution and types of need have shifted. This brief reviews the effects of the ACA on the funding and operation of safety-net institutions. It highlights the challenges and opportunities that health care reform presents to safety-net programs, and how they have adapted and evolved to continue to serve our most vulnerable residents.
On January 1, 2017, Philadelphia became the second U.S. city to tax the distribution of sweetened beverages. The 1.5 cent per ounce tax applies to the distribution of sugar- and artificially sweetened beverages. Similar taxes have been passed in several other cities and are being considered at the state level. The authors examined the effect of the tax on beverage prices and sales at chain retail stores in Philadelphia.
Factors over the life course affect the mental health of urban black men with serious injuries. Childhood adversity, pre-injury physical and mental health conditions, and intentional injury (violence) are risk factors for post-injury depression and posttraumatic stress. Clinicians should expand assessment beyond the acute injury event to identify those patients at risk for poor mental health outcomes.
Amidst an ongoing opioid crisis that claimed 47,600 lives in 2017, increasing the availability of the rescue medication naloxone is a high priority. Naloxone reverses an opioid overdose when given intranasally or intramuscularly. But to be effective, naloxone must be available at the time of overdose. Naloxone distribution to laypeople can save a life when first responders are not immediately available, or when people witnessing overdoses are unwilling or unable to call 911. Naloxone is increasingly available through some pharmacies under a standing order; however, even when available, cost and stigma barriers persist. This Issue Brief reviews recent evidence on the outcomes and cost-effectiveness of naloxone distribution strategies in community, pharmacy, and other health care settings.
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]bout 5.5 million older adults are living with dementia, a chronic, progressive disease characterized by severe cognitive decline. This number will likely grow significantly as the U.S. population ages, which has cost implications for the Medicare program. A full accounting of these additional expenses will help policymakers plan for them in their Medicare budgets. In this study, Norma Coe and colleagues examined survival and Medicare expenditures in older adults with and without dementia to estimate dementia’s incremental costs to Medicare in the five years after diagnosis.
Among high-risk Medicare Advantage members with congestive heart failure, a proactive outreach program driven by a claims-based predictive algorithm reduced the likelihood of an emergency department (ED) or specialist visit in one year by 20% and 21%, respectively. The average number of visits dropped as well, with a 40% reduction in the volume of ED visits and a 27% reduction in the volume of cardiology visits after the first year.
In this study of postacute care, more than 10% of Medicare skilled nursing facility (SNF) stays included no visit from
a physician or advanced practitioner. Of stays with visits, about half of initial assessments occurred within a day of
admission, and nearly 80% occurred within four days. Patients who did not receive a visit from a physician or advanced
practitioner were nearly twice as likely to be readmitted to a hospital (28%) or to die (14%) within 30 days of SNF
admission than patients who had an initial visit.
Growing concern about the affordability of health care and the cost burden imposed on working families frequently appears in public debate about the next phase of health care reform. In this second brief of our affordability series, Penn LDI and United States of Care adapt a national-level affordability index to provide state-level data on the cost burden faced by working families who have employer-sponsored insurance (ESI). We examine how this burden varies across states, and how it has changed within states from 2010 to 2016.