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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What We Did During Your Summer Vacation: Readers’ Top Blogs

What did you miss on your vacation? Our readers’ favorite blogs from the summer reflect some of the hottest topics in health care policy.

1. All About Health Insurance Premium Rates

With cost a major factor in consumers’ health insurance plan choices, it’s not surprising that our coverage of the 2015 rates for health insurance premiums attracted the most readers this summer. Beginning in May and June, health insurers began releasing their proposed monthly premium rates for 2015. We wrote about premium rate predictions, five trends we’d observed in the 2015 rate filings, and laid out a roadmap for advocates seeking to challenge unreasonable increases in premium rates using a process known as “rate review.” 

2. Quality, Not Size: Improving Private Insurance Health Provider Networks for Consumers

The second most popular blog concerned how well private health insurance provider networks serve consumers. This blog described the criteria for determining whether a health plan’s network is adequate. In other words, does it offer consumers the right care, in a timely manner, without having to travel unreasonably far?

3. Minority Enrollment in Health Insurance Marketplaces During the First Open Enrollment Period 

After the close of the first open enrollment period, numerous studies and surveys sought to capture the number and demographics of those who bought coverage through the marketplace. This blog discussed data from multiple sources showing that enrollment for communities of color is on the upswing. Nonetheless, concerted outreach efforts will continue to be necessary to boost enrollment. 

4. Rural Americans More Likely to Fall into Medicaid “Coverage Gap” and Lack Insurance

Almost two-thirds of—or 1 million—rural, uninsured Americans live in states whose leaders have decided not to expand Medicaid. In June, we highlighted findings from the Kaiser Family Foundation about how rural Americans are poorer and more likely to have jobs that don’t offer health insurance. They are more likely to fall into the Medicaid coverage gap— left without affordable health insurance options because they don’t qualify for regular Medicaid but can’t afford to buy health coverage through the marketplace. 

5. Boston Hospital Acquisition Shines New Light on the Pitfalls of Mergers and Consolidation

The news of another high-profile hospital acquisition prompted us to analyze the growing trend of hospital mergers and acquisitions. This trend brings with it a complex set of challenges for consumers and for health care costs if implemented without safeguards. 

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