Tag Archives: health insurance

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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ACA hits open-enrollment record, but swift action is needed to prevent rate hikes next year

This map from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows the percentage change in enrollment in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces in each state from 2021 to 2022. It shows enrollment increased in almost all states. Accessed Feb. 1, 2022. Reprinted with permission.

After a record number of consumers signed up for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Bob Herman and Caitlin Owen at Axios warned on Monday morning that increased enrollment could be in peril unless Congress acts this year to keep premiums low.

“Democrats are touting record Affordable Care Act enrollment, but a lot of those gains will be wiped away next year unless Congress takes action,” Herman and Owen said.

This angle is crucial because, as Herman and Owen explained, the Democrats increased how much government pays in health insurance premium subsidy assistance for low- and middle-income Americans when they passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) last March.

In multiple blog posts last year, we reported about how the increased subsidies could help millions of Americans, including this post in October, “Approximately 80% of consumers expected to save significantly on 2022 Affordable Care Act plans,” and this one in April, “New health insurance subsidies will require strong explanatory journalism skills.”

The financial assistance built into the ARPA led to a 21% increase in ACA enrollment since last year, totaling 14.5 million consumers who signed up since last fall, Herman and Owen wrote. “If you include other special ACA plans in New York and Minnesota, total enrollment is closer to 15.5 million people, according to marketplace tracker Charles Gaba,” they added. Gaba runs the ACA Signups site.

The problem for the Biden administration and for Democrats in Congress, however, is that the enhanced subsidies are scheduled to end on Dec. 31. A measure to extend the improved premium subsidies through 2025 was included in what’s called the build back better legislation, which is stalled in the U.S. Senate. It’s unclear if the increased subsidies will be included in any new legislation, Herman and Owen reported.

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Approximately 80% of consumers expected to save significantly on 2022 Affordable Care Act plans

Small Area Health Insurance Estimates

The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 Small Area Health Insurance Estimates report showed that the rate of Americans who lacked health insurance dropped between 2013 and 2019 in 2,909 counties and rose in just four counties after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented in 2014. (Photo courtesy of the United States Census Bureau.)

Health insurance premiums will cost $10 or less each month next year for four out of five consumers shopping for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces, the Biden administration announced on Monday. The savings come from higher subsidies for most Americans that Congress passed last spring under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

On Monday, Nov. 1, open enrollment for ACA plans will give consumers the widest variety of health insurance options and the lowest prices ever, said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra. Also, HHS quadrupled the number of health insurance navigators available to guide consumers seeking information on how to sign up, and added an extra month to the open enrollment period, which ends on Jan. 15.

According to Becerra, health insurance costs are the lowest ever because the ARPA increased the subsidies for monthly premiums through Dec. 31, 2022. Technically, those increased funds are called enhanced premium tax credit subsidies, the Center for Health Insurance Reforms explained in a recent blog post about open enrollment.

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Growing beyond the pilot stage, bundled payment gains wider acceptance

Health insurers are expanding the use of bundled payment as a core part of their efforts to reform how they deliver and pay for care, according to a new report commissioned by the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute Inc. (HCI3), a nonprofit that supports bundled payment and other payment-reform initiatives. (See below for an announcement about an HCI3 webinar on bundled payment scheduled for June 24.)

The report (PDF) by consulting firm Bailit Health Purchasing LLC showed that bundled payment has grown beyond the pilot stage among Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurers.

“While the number of providers and payers implementing bundled payments is relatively small, we observed growth in the adoption of bundled payment initiatives,” the report said. Last year, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services approved more than 500 organizations to participate in its Bundled Payment for Care Improvement initiative. The Medicaid program in Arkansas has a bundled payment initiative, and Ohio and Tennessee are implementing similar programs. This level of activity may mean a movement toward broader adoption of bundled payment is on the horizon, the report said.

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Using data from exchanges, journalists report on the true cost of health insurance

When the federal and state exchanges opened for business on Oct. 1, 2013, health care journalists found a trove of stories worth reporting on the cost of health insurance.

But they also found that simply reporting on the premiums that consumers paid was only part of the story. Consumers also had to pay deductibles at each metal level (bronze, silver, gold and platinum) and these payments varied widely.

Reporters also found that the federal subsidies for the poor added a layer of complexity to their reporting that made covering the actual cost of health insurance to be difficult and confusing. Continue reading