Tag Archives: insurers

Get county-level data to report on competition in insurance marketplace

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

downloading-and-uploading-data-iconAs large insurers, such as United Healthcare, Humana and Aetna, drop out of the Healthcare.gov marketplace, consumers are left with fewer and fewer choices, especially in certain geographic areas.

Sarah KliffSarah Frostenson and Soo Oh of Vox gathered the data to show us just how little competition there will be:

“There are currently 687 counties on the Healthcare.gov marketplace with just one insurer signed up to sell in 2017 — nearly four times the 182 counties that had one insurer this year.”

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New studies raise the question: Are out-of-pocket costs getting out of control?

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Source: Adrion ER, Ryan AM, Seltzer AC, Chen LM, Ayanian JZ, Nallamothu BK. Out-of-Pocket Spending for Hospitalizations Among Nonelderly Adults. JAMA Intern Med.Published online June 27, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.3663.Researchers from the University of Michigan’s Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy studied the cost of hospitalizations for insured consumers and found that costs rose sharply from 2009 to 2013.

Source: Adrion ER, Ryan AM, Seltzer AC, Chen LM, Ayanian JZ, Nallamothu BK. Out-of-Pocket Spending for Hospitalizations Among Nonelderly Adults. JAMA Intern Med.Published online June 27, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.3663.Researchers from the University of Michigan’s Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy studied the cost of hospitalizations for insured consumers and found that costs rose sharply from 2009 to 2013.

Two new studies indicate that out-of-pocket costs of health care are rising sharply.

The share of costs that consumers are paying rose by 13 percent from 2014 to 2015 according to a new report from TransUnion Healthcare. What’s more, the report shows that as these costs rose, patients had fewer resources to pay those increased expenses because their amount of revolving credit had declined.

Out-of-pocket costs are a combination of what patients pay in deductibles, coinsurance and copayments for covered services. Coinsurance is a percentage of the total bill and a copayment is usually a fixed amount due at the time of service. Consumers pay for these costs until they reach the out-of-pocket maximum when insurance starts paying. Continue reading

Beware of hype about how consumers will benefit when health insurers merge

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

GraphicStock

GraphicStock

One important question to ask about any health insurance merger is how will the deal will affect the local market.

It’s said that all politics is local and the same is true in health care. That’s why antitrust regulators will look closely at Anthem’s proposed acquisition of Cigna and Aetna’s proposed deal to buy Humana, which we covered earlier this month. Continue reading

Columnist finds evidence in question of controlling health care costs

Judith Graham

About Judith Graham

Judith Graham (@judith_graham), is a freelance journalist based in Denver and former topic leader on aging for AHCJ. She haswritten for the New York Times, Kaiser Health News, the Washington Post, the Journal of the American Medical Association, STAT News, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications.

Recently in this blog I suggested that reporters examine insurance companies’ record of controlling health care costs for older adults. And Mark Miller of Reuters decided to do just that.

Mark Miller
Mark Miller

In a just-published column, Miller looked at Medicare Advantage – a private insurance option that covers hospital and doctor services – and Medicare Part D, a prescription drug program run entirely by insurance companies.

His conclusion:

“There’s already plenty of competition in Medicare and it has not resulted in lower costs, according to recent evidence. In addition, the competition hasn’t pushed seniors to shop effectively for low-cost options.”

Miller turned up important new research from George Washington University that sheds light on this topic. The key finding from that soon-to-be-published study: Continue reading