Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Narrow Networks in your state

The Affordable Care Act aimed to increase patient access to care.  Although it has certainly improved the share of patients who are insured, it is not clear whether it has actually improved “access.”  Many health insurance exchange plans are able to offer low premiums by limiting the number or type of doctors you are able to […]

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ACA driving up health care spending?

That is the conclusion reached by John Holahan and Stacey McMorrow in a RWJ Issue Brief. They claim that “recent reports suggest such growth has returned to a more typical level of approximately 5.6 percent in 2014, considerably faster than increases in gross domestic product (GDP).” Positive excess cost growth–defined as the difference between the […]

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“Affordable” Care Act

Is the Affordable Care Act making health insurance more affordable?  Generally, the answer is yes.  More individuals are insured due to Medicaid coverage expansions in some but not all states and the implementation of health insurance exchanges.  However, there is one worrying trend in affordability: increasing patient cost sharing. A paper by Hempstead et al. (2015), […]

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Rate hikes in 2016

The Affordable Care Act may turn out to be not so affordable.  From the New York Times: Health insurance companies around the country are seeking rate increases of 20 percent to 40 percent or more, saying their new customers under the Affordable Care Act turned out to be sicker than expected. Federal officials say they […]

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ACA and narrow networks

One way for insurers to reduce health care costs is to restrict patient access to only lower cost providers.  This phenomenon is known as narrow networks.  On the one hand, narrow networks can promote efficiency by driving down provider price and directing patients to the highest value physicians.  Alternatively, if insurers use narrow networks to direct patients […]

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Obamacare’s slow repeal?

While we are waiting for the King v. Burwell verdict, which could repeal large sections of Obamacare, the house of representatives has already approved rolling back some ACA provisions. Modern Healthcare reports: Lawmakers postponed final passage of the proposed Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act despite a majority voting in favor of the bill. The […]

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Covered California and Adverse Selection

The Affordable Care Act requires all individuals to be offered the same premium regardless of health status. Although there are some ratings bands based on age and smoking status, most people who purchase insurance on health insurance exchanges receive the same premium for any given insurance product from any given insurance company. The insurance products […]

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Medicare starts using prior authorization

Included within the many changes to physician payment in HR2, is one provision that may surprise people; a subset of Medicare physicians will be required to receive prior authorization to conduct imaging services. Beginning with 2017, and in consultation with stakeholders, the Secretary will identify ordering professionals with low adherence to applicable [appropriate use criteria] […]

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What is MIPS?

Yesterday I posted about MIPS, the new Medicare physician reimbursement program set to begin in 2019.  The Health Affairs blog provides a nice summary of some of the changes. First and probably most importantly, the formulaic approach to setting base payment rates is gone, replaced with automatic increases for all doctors from 2015 through 2019. For […]

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Medicaid Expansion and States’ bottom line

A recent RWJF Issue Brief notes that states that expanded Medicaid received more revenue from the federal government and had less state-level spending on programs that support the uninsured. In examining Medicaid expansion across eight states—Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and West Virginia—it is clear that states are realizing savings and revenue […]

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