A project of the George Washington University's Hirsh Health Law and Policy Program and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Health Insurance

KFF releases 2014 Employer Health Benefits Survey

Posted on September 10, 2014

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) released its annual Employer Health Benefits Survey, which provides a snapshot of health coverage in the workplace. The 2014 survey results show that annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage are up 3 percent from last year, continuing a recent trend of moderate premium growth.  Premiums increased more slowly over the past five years than the preceding five years (26 percent vs. 34 percent) and well below the annual double-digit increases recorded in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This year’s increase also is similar to the year-to-year rise in worker’s wages and general inflation.

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Studies examine insurance rates of children and parents under the ACA

Posted on September 10, 2014

Two studies by the Urban Institute show that the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have in many cases helped to insure more parents, but have not been as successful at increasing coverage for their children. The studies found that nationally, between September 2013 and June 2014, the estimated uninsured rate for parents fell 2.4 percentage points from 16.7 percent to 14.3 percent. However, for the same time period, no statistically significant change was found in the estimated uninsured rate for children under age 17. Additionally, findings suggest that the majority of uninsured children are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)  but are not yet enrolled. The implications of these studies could be important as Congress considers whether to reauthorize funding for CHIP beyond 2016.

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CAP proposes model to control health care costs

Posted on September 8, 2014

The Center for American Progress released a report proposing an approach known as the “Accountable Care States” in order to control health care costs. The model will keep costs down by giving states flexibility and incentives to control costs. A state that designates itself an Accountable Care State will be accountable for health care costs, quality of care, and access to care with sizable financial rewards for keeping overall costs low. Using Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data, the report estimates that if half of the states participate, the Accountable Care States model would yield $1.7 trillion in savings on total health care spending over 10 years.

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CBPP releases report on alternative Medicaid expansion approaches

Posted on August 22, 2014

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released a report to help state policymakers design waiver proposals for alternative approaches to expanding Medicaid. Arkansas, Iowa, and Michigan have all been granted waivers by the federal government to expand their Medicaid programs through alternative methods. The report outlines what federal officials have previously permitted and refused to help newly interested  states successfully obtain a waiver.

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Study finds less market competition contributes to higher premiums

Posted on August 13, 2014

A study by the Urban Institute analyzed marketplaces in 10 states finding that in states largely dominated by one insurer, such as Alabama, Arkansas, Rhode Island and West Virginia, premiums are generally higher. In the more competitive markets- Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Virginia, the authors often found limited provider networks, which allows insurers to keep premiums low. However, these limited networks may hinder access to certain providers

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Report proposes theoretical ACA alternative

Posted on August 13, 2014

Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Avik Roy proposed a health care plan that guarantees “near universal coverage and permanent fiscal solvency.” The Universal Exchange Plan would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual and employer mandates and would transition Medicaid beneficiaries and future retirees into reformed health exchanges. The Manhattan Institute predicts the plan would expand coverage to 12.1 million more Americans than the ACA by 2025 and decrease individual market premiums 17 percentage points by 2020.

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Issue brief examines health plan quality improvement efforts

Posted on July 29, 2014

In a new issue brief published by the Commonwealth Fund, researchers from Georgetown’s Center on Health Insurance reforms reviewed state action in selective contracting, informing consumers about health plan quality, and collecting data on insurers’ quality improvement efforts. The study found that 13 state-based marketplaces have taken action to implement the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) quality improvement goals. The authors also assess technical and operational challenges states face in using the Marketplace to help drive system wide change in health care delivery.

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Study looks at remaining uninsured

Posted on July 29, 2014

A new study by the Urban Institute funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds that two-thirds of the nation’s remaining uninsured adults have incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). While this is the target population of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion, 40 percent of the uninsured live in states that chose not to expand Medicaid. The study found that affordability was the main reason people did not get health insurance, yet many uninsured individuals had limited awareness of potential financial help available to them.

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10.3 million adults estimated to have gained coverage under the ACA

Posted on July 24, 2014

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that an estimated 10.3 million adults gained insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The study, performed by Harvard researchers, reported a 5.2% decline in the uninsured rate during the first open enrollment period.  Data analyzed for this project included Gallup polls and ACA enrollment statistics from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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Courts issue conflicting ACA decisions

Posted on July 22, 2014

Today, two federal appeals courts issued contradictory decisions regarding the availability of advanced premium tax credits, or subsidies, for federally-facilitated marketplaces (FFM).  In a 2-1 decision in Halbig v. Burwell, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled that the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) did not possess the authority to issue subsidies for qualifying individuals enrolling in FFM.  In a similar case entitled King v. Burwell, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond unanimously upheld that subsidies may be offered by the IRS in both federally-facilitated and state-based Marketplaces.  Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), individuals earning 400% or less of the federal poverty level may receive subsidies in order to offset some of the premium costs for obtaining health insurance through the ACA Marketplaces.  The differing opinions issued today indicate that this issue will likely be taken up by the Supreme Court.

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