Affordable Care Act
Obamacare Health Industry News Recap: 2/8-2/12: What we learned this week
Published on February 12, 2016
For updates visit our Timeline of the Affordable Care Act.
Health Care Signups Exceed Hopes, With 4 Million Newcomers to Federal Marketplace
The Obama administration announced Thursday that about 12.7 million people signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act or had their coverage automatically renewed in the third annual open enrollment season.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the signups exceeded her goals and her expectations. “Open enrollment for 2016 is over, and we are happy to report it was a success,” she said.
Most of the plan selections were for people in the 38 states — more than 9.6 million — who used the federal website, HealthCare.gov. The other 3.1 million people were enrolled in states that run their own marketplaces.
In March 2015, the Obama administration announced that nearly 11.7 million people had selected health plans or had been automatically re-enrolled through the public marketplaces. In September, the administration said, actual enrollment was at 9.3 million.
Federal officials said there might be a smaller decline this year because the new numbers included some cancellations and were therefore more accurate. Still, officials said, they did not know how many of the people with marketplace coverage this year were previously uninsured.
Read more: (The New York Times)
Will Healthcare.gov Get A California Makeover?
Covered California holds insurers to a higher bar than what’s required under the Affordable Care Act.
It negotiates premium prices down and requires quality goals to be met. Health plans must participate in health-disparity workgroups, collect information about enrollees’ health status and monitor rates of preventive health services use. In the first two years, California’s exchange rejected multiple health insurance carriers.
Covered California says it’s the only exchange in the country that requires all plans to be standardized (not just some, which the federal government is proposing). All gold tier plans, for instance, have the same costs for lab tests, doctors’ visits and deductibles.
Federal administrators may be trying to adopt active purchasing rules before the new presidential administration takes office, said Sabrina Corlette, research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms.
“There’s no question that the feds are closely watching the California experience,” said Corlette, commenting on Covered California’s ability to keep insurers in the marketplace and hold down premiums.
Read more: (Kaiser Health News)
Top Hospitals Likely Are Available On A Marketplace Plan, Study Finds
An analysis done by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation discovered that many top-notch hospitals are available in-network in marketplace plans this year. However, more than half of those hospitals participated in fewer plans than last year, limiting their in-network availability to just one marketplace plan in a growing number of cases.
The study examined the marketplace plan participation in 2015 and 2016 of 156 hospitals that were highly ranked on U.S. News and World Report’s most recent list of Best Regional Hospitals based on clinical care and other measures.
Overall, the study found that more than 95 percent of highly rated regional hospitals were available in at least one marketplace plan in both years.
Read more: (Kaiser Health News)