Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we’ve made tremendous progress in expanding access to affordable health insurance. However, the findings of our new report show that there is still work to be done to help consumers with their out-of-pocket costs so they can get the care they need. The good news is that there are steps that health insurers and state and federal policy makers can take to address this issue.
In 2014, health insurance companies and observers wondered how much their costs would increase as previously uninsured people gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Were the higher premiums justified?
In time for rate review season, we analyzed how much money health insurers are earning. We found that the top insurers are in a strong financial position. Consequently, there is certainly room for scrutiny as insurers propose new premium prices for 2016.
In recent months, there’s been an increased interest in improving access to health care for people who are recently released from incarceration or otherwise involved in the criminal justice system. While incarcerated, people generally cannot get access to health care through Medicaid or the marketplace. But when they are released, many are eligible. Assisters in a number of states are working to help what is known as “the justice-involved” population enroll in health coverage, both through the marketplace and in Medicaid.
Ruth Petran has celebrated Mother’s Day with her children for the past 33 years, but this Mother’s Day is special. Ruth says it’s the kind of Mother’s Day that wouldn’t have been possible without the Affordable Care Act. This is the first Mother’s Day that Ruth will celebrate as a grandmother, as well as a mother. For years, Ruth worried that her daughter’s private insurance policy without maternity coverage would force her to delay having children. Thanks to the ACA’s protections that mandate maternity coverage for all consumers, Ruth’s daughter, could access the insurance she needed to start a family and give Ruth the grandchild she had been hoping for.
The activity around payment and system reform creates an opportunity to develop interventions that directly address racial and ethnic health disparities. However, some reforms could inadvertently make disparities worse. For example, they could discourage providers from treating sicker, more complex patients, or undermine the financial viability of struggling safety net providers.
Fortunately, some communities are implementing delivery system reforms that reduce health disparities and bend the cost curve. The effective models we describe in this blog series share several features in common.
On April 29, Families USA released a report that profiles two residents in neighboring states: Iowa, which chose to accept federal funds to extend health coverage to more adults through Medicaid, and Missouri, which has rejected federal funds to do the same. Our report shows how a state’s choice to extend health coverage can make a real difference in people’s lives. It also shows that if a state chooses not to extend coverage, that choice is not only a great injustice—it threatens access to care for Americans who need affordable, quality health care.
After the 2014 elections, the predictions for Medicaid expansion were full of doom and gloom. But as lawmakers begin to close out their sessions in 2015, there are signs of progress and hope that opposition to Medicaid expansion is eroding. Montana offers the most recent case for optimism, this week becoming the 30th state (including D.C.) to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
As we approach the end of April, the special enrollment period (SEP) for tax filers is coming to a close. The tax SEP was just one of many SEPs out there. Now enrollment assisters can focus their outreach and partnership efforts to target specific populations who may qualify for other SEPs. For advocacy groups and those providing application assistance, it’s time to spread the word that coverage is available for people now, as their lives change.
Across the country, there is tremendous momentum to change how health care is delivered and paid for in order to improve quality and to curb costs. These initiatives to transform the health system have the potential to improve care for everyone, and could directly address health disparities. Advocates must actively engage in these reform efforts—both to protect communities of color from harm and to take maximum advantage of opportunities to transform health care delivery to better serve people of color.
In the second open enrollment period that just ended, one million more people of color signed up for marketplace coverage under the Affordable Care Act than enrolled during the first year. This achievement is thanks in large part to the more than 20,000 thousand navigators and assisters around the country who offered in-person assistance in communities of color. But we’re far from achieving equity when it comes to health coverage. Here we share recommendations to make improving enrollment efforts in communities of color a priority.