While Congress wrestles with budget reconciliation and takes another swipe at the Affordable Care Act, most state lawmakers are back at their day jobs and finished with legislative business for the year. The 2015 sessions produced a few highlights, and some lowlights, for health care advocates. Lawmakers continued to grapple with full implementation of the ACA, but some looked beyond the health care law to move their states toward a health reform 2.0 agenda. Below we note some of the significant work this year in state capitals.
The Affordable Care Act did a lot to help uninsured consumers get health coverage, but it did not entirely resolve the very real problems with insurance affordability for low- and moderate-income consumers. These consumers often struggle to meet other living costs and, even once they have health insurance, may not be able to get the health care they need because they have trouble paying for costs associated with their premiums, office visits, and other types of health care.
Open enrollment for the health insurance marketplace begins this November. As a result, health insurers are filing their proposed health insurance premium rates for 2015. To examine how rates may change for consumers buying policies in 2015, we reviewed filings and news reports from 12 states where proposed rates have received media attention. For each state, we looked at overall proposed premium rate changes, which are an average for each insurer. A consumer’s actual premium increase or decrease may be higher or lower than the average depending on age, location, and plan choice.
When it comes to implementing health reform, it turns out the old saying “the early bird gets the worm” sums it up pretty well.
The news of WellPoint's Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield hiking up premiums for its customers in California by 39% made waves across the country, and many other of WellPoint's affiliates will soon follow suit.
California consumers are not alone as they face huge premium hikes. Other consumers in states across the country also will see rate hikes from WellPoint this year.