Health Insurance

Financial and structural characteristics of the public and private programs that cover medical costs. LDI analyzes how to expand and improve coverage through insurance exchanges, employer-sponsored insurance, and public programs.

Networks in ACA Marketplaces are Narrower for Mental Health Care Than for Primary Care

Research Brief
Sep. 5, 2017

In 2016, ACA marketplace plans offered provider networks that were far narrower for mental health care than for primary care. On average, plan networks included 24 percent of all primary care providers and 11 percent of all mental health care providers in a given market. Just 43 percent of psychiatrists and 19 percent of nonphysician mental health providers participate in any network. These findings raise important questions about network sufficiency, consumer choice, and access to mental health care in marketplace plans.

Chart of the Day: Adverse Tiering for HIV/AIDS Patients

Aug. 3, 2017

It’s called “adverse tiering” and it’s a benefit strategy designed to dissuade patients with expensive chronic conditions from enrolling in marketplace plans. The ACA prohibited plans from refusing to cover patients with pre-existing conditions and from charging them higher premiums. To avoid high-cost patients, some plans have structured their formularies to require substantial cost sharing for drugs in a certain class, particularly for expensive conditions such as HIV/AIDS.

The Exaggerated Life of Death Panels? The Limited but Real Influence of Elite Rhetoric in the 2009-2010 Health Care Debate

Jul. 25, 2017

Daniel Hopkins

In Political Behavior, Daniel Hopkins analyzes the ability of American elites to frame political issues to sway public opinion, as well as the real-world constraints on that ability. Previous experiments demonstrate that elites can influence public opinion through framing, yet those experiments may not account for limitations on that ability. The author uses the 2009-2010 health care debate, along with automated content analyses of elite- and general population language, to study real-world effects of framing. He finds that the language Americans use to explain their opinions is...

Is American Pet Health Care (Also) Uniquely Inefficient?

Jun. 29, 2017

Liran Einav, Amy Finkelstein, Atul Gupta

In American Economic Review, Liran Einav and colleagues, including Atul Gupta, examine similarities between human and pet health care in the U.S.. The authors note similarities in rapid growth in spending in both industries, with wealthier families spending significantly more on both human and pet health. They also note a rapid increase in employment of health care providers in both industries, an increase in medical technology use, and a similar propensity for high spending at the end of life. While human and pet health care share a number of similarities, they also note...

Association Between Hospital Participation in a Medicare Bundled Payment Initiative and Payments and Quality Outcomes for Lower Extremity Joint Replacement Episodes

Jun. 29, 2017

Laura A. Dummit, Daver Kahvecioglu, Grecia Marrufo, Rahul Rajkumar, Jaclyn Marshall, Eleonora Tan, Matthew J. Press, Shannon Flood, L. Daniel Muldoon, Qian Gu, Andrea Hassol, David M. Bott, Amy Bassano, Patrick H. Conway

In JAMA, Laura Dummit and colleagues, including Matthew Press, evaluate whether a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) bundled payment pilot program is associated with a reduction in Medicare payments. Specifically, the authors assess if Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) reduced Medicare payments and maintained quality in lower extremity joint replacement. This CMS program was launched in 2013 to test whether linking payments for services provided during an episode of care can reduce Medicare payments and maintain quality. The authors used a difference-in-...

The Economics of Medicaid Reform and Block Grants

Jun. 27, 2017

Paula Chatterjee, Benjamin D. Sommers

In The JAMA Forum, Paula Chatterjee and colleagues explore the rationale for and potential effects of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The authors argue that Medicaid will be disproportionately affected, as 12 of the 20 million individuals who gained coverage through the ACA are on Medicaid. They assess arguments for Medicaid reform, examine policy implications, and explore potential effects on patients. They examine how these changes would affect current Medicaid payment models, and posit that providers may be more limited in services they can offer to Medicaid recipients...

‘A Giant Step in the Wrong Direction’

Jun. 26, 2017

Forty economists and health policy experts, including Dan Polsky and Zeke Emanuel, have signed a strongly worded letter opposing the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the Senate proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Exit, Voice or Loyalty? An Investigation into Mandated Portability of Front-Loaded Private Health Plans

Jun. 15, 2017

Juan Pablo Atal, Hanming Fang, Martin Karlsson, and Nicholas R. Zieberth

In a National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper, Juan Pablo Atal and colleagues, including Hanming Fang, study how a mandate designed to increase competition in the German private health care market influences rates of consumers switching insurers or switching plans within an insurer. In the German system, those who opt into private insurance are required to front-load premium costs, so that younger, healthier consumers pay disproportionately into old-age provisions to offset increased costs for older enrollees. Before a 2009 mandate, consumers who switched insurers could...

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