Category Archives: Health care reform

History shows Inflation Reduction Act subsidies help Americans save on health insurance

In states where health insurance premiums are highest, consumers losing marketplace subsidies would have seen the steepest increases if Congress did not pass the Inflation Reduction Act’s continuation of the enhanced subsidies. Source: “Five Things to Know about the Renewal of Extra Affordable Care Act Subsidies in the Inflation Reduction Act,” Kaiser Family Foundation, Aug. 11, 2022. Accessed Aug. 18, 2022.

By signing the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) on Tuesday, August 16, President Biden made history by continuing a 12-year trend to reduce the number of nonelderly Americans without health insurance.

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Inflation Reduction Act will benefit millions of older adults

Photo by RODNAE Productions from via pexels.

Millions of older adults will soon benefit from lower prescription drug prices and a cap on out-of-pocket costs thanks to landmark legislation signed into law by President Biden today. Continue reading

3 reasons it’s significant that the percentage of uninsured Americans hit an all-time low

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, 2021–2022. Cohen RA and Cha AE. Health insurance coverage: Early release of quarterly estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, January 2021–March 2022. National Center for Health Statistics. July 2022.

The percentage of Americans who lack health insurance hit an all-time low of 8% in the first quarter of this year, reflecting an increase of 5.2 million people who gained coverage since 2020, according to a report by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released on Tuesday. 

Using data from the National Health Interview Survey and the American Community Survey, the report from the HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Education (ASPE) shows the effect of better subsidies for health insurance that consumers buy on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, increased federal efforts to encourage the uninsured to enroll, the continuous enrollment provisions in the federal-and-state Medicaid program and recent decisions in several states to increase enrollment in Medicaid, HHS said in a press release

Since 2019, seven states have expanded enrollment in the federal-and-state funded Medicaid program, according to Louise Norris at HealthInsurance.org. Those states are: Virginia and Maine in 2019; Utah, Idaho, and Nebraska in 2020; and Oklahoma and Missouri last year, she wrote.

The HHS announcement is significant for three reasons. First, the all-time low 8% rate means that about 26.4 million people lack health insurance, down from 48 million in 2010, according to an ASPE report last year. Second, the report includes a table showing changes in the uninsured rates in each state for low-income adults ages 18 to 64 from 2018 to 2020. In 18 states (15 of which expanded Medicaid), the uninsured rates for this population dropped in those years.

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Conflicting state and federal abortion laws put pregnant patients, physicians and hospitals at risk

 

Physicians treating pregnant women/people needing emergency medical care are wrestling with how to comply with what’s been called the bedrock law of emergency medicine when facing strict, new mandates on abortion.

“Confusion among emergency room doctors remains even after the Biden administration clarified this week that federal law allowing abortions in life-or-death situations supersedes any restrictions a state may have on the procedure,” Tony Pugh wrote for Bloomberg Law on Wednesday. His article explained how conflicting federal and state laws are complicating abortion care.

Early this week, Melanie Evans of The Wall Street Journal took a close look at how physicians and hospitals are addressing the mandates of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) of 1986 in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. That decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization stripped away an almost 50-year-old right to an abortion.

Even before the SCOTUS decision on June 24, many states had enacted laws to either restrict or prohibit abortions or expand and protect access to abortion in anticipation of the ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, as noted in the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation’s tracker of these measures.

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Older adults sacrifice basic needs to pay for health care

Photo by cottonbro via pexels.

Rising costs are putting many older adults in an economic bind. Some are skimping on basics like food to pay for health care; others are foregoing health care entirely. Both approaches may have serious long-term health consequences, according to a recent survey from Gallup and West Health.

Over one in three adults 50 and older have forgone basics such as food or utilities to pay for health care. Conversely, some older Americans are skipping needed health visits or medication because of costs. U.S. adults 50-64, women, and Black adults are more likely to cut back on basics, according to the Gallup poll. However, more than a third of adults 65 and older (37%) also said they are concerned about affording needed health care services in the next year.

Journalists can use these results as a starting point for examining the cost of care locally and programs available to help offset health care costs or other basic living expenses. This is particularly relevant as inflation continues to rise forcing more people to choose what to pay for and what to sacrifice.

Adults 50 to 64 are not yet eligible for Medicare, but many are already experiencing health problems. Nearly 50 million adults 50 and older are at a critical age because they will need additional care as they age, Nicole Wilcoxon, Ph.D., research director at Gallup said in a Zoom interview. “Cutting back on care due to cost puts them at risk for more severe illness and even death.”

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