Affordability may be the most ubiquitous buzzword in health reform. In repeated surveys, Americans cite the affordability of health care as their top financial concern. Despite their handwringing, politicians often avoid defining what constitutes “affordable” health care, and both non-experts and seasoned policymakers seem to lack robust measures of affordability. How can the most important crisis in health care lack reliable metrics?
Primary care appointment availability for new Medicaid patients declined when Medicaid fees for providers decreased after the ACA-mandated “fee bump” expired.
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.
Editor's Note: On November 7, 2017, University of Notre Dame employees received an email saying that contraceptive coverage will continue for health care plan members at no cost, because the third-party administrator will continue to provide the coverage free of charge.
Reforming Medicare to protect the health of an aging and vulnerable population is a pressing policy concern. To share some perspective, Dr. Mary Naylor led a panel entitled “Shaping the Future of Medicare” at Penn LDI’s 50th Anniversary Symposium.
The panelists addressed several core themes, including cost-effective personal care in the home, end-of-life care, Medicare payment reforms, and reimagining care for families of an aging population.
In Health Affairs, Colleen Barry and colleagues, including Andrew Epstein, Steven Marcus and David Mandell, examine whether state mandates requiring commercial insurers to cover treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) altered service use or spending among commercially insured children with ASD. To date, 46 states and the District of Columbia have enacted such mandates.
The authors compared children age 21 or younger who were eligible for mandates to children not subject to mandates using 2008–12 claims data from three national insurers. They found that...
In Health Affairs, Heidi Allen and colleagues, including Ashley Swanson, analyzed the impact of California’s early Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the use of payday loans, a form of high-interest borrowing often used by low- and middle-income households. No studies to date have focused on how health insurance coverage affects the use of alternative financial products. This research is especially important given the documented relationship between poverty, medical debt, and bad credit outcomes.
Using a difference-in-differences research design, the...
October 16, 2017 [cross-posted from the Health Cents blog on philly.com]
September 22, 2017 [cross-posted from the Health Cents blog on philly.com]
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.
Subsidized reinsurance represents a potentially important tool to help stabilize individual health insurance markets. This brief describes alternative forms of subsidized reinsurance and the mechanisms by which they spread risk and reduce premiums. It summarizes specific state initiatives and Congressional proposals that include subsidized reinsurance. It compares approaches to each other and to more direct subsidies of individual market enrollment. For a given amount of funding, a particular program’s efficacy will depend on how it affects insurers’ risk and the risk margins built into premiums, incentives for selecting or avoiding risks, incentives for coordinating and managing care, and the costs and complexity of administration. These effects warrant careful consideration by policymakers as they consider measures to achieve stability in the individual market in the long term.