What's New in Health Care Reform provides an overview of the past week’s news, updates, and commentary in health care reform and utilization management.
HealthCare.gov Site Straining to Keep Up with Enrollees
HealthCare.gov has been straining to handle this year’s would-be enrollees, who are frequently being placed in holding areas on the site to avoid crashing the sign-up system, enrollment workers around the country say. Online “waiting rooms,” where people are sent at times when the site’s capacity is stretched, have been deployed regularly since the new sign-up period began last Tuesday, Nov. 1. Via Wall Street Journal.
Administration Crosses Fingers For Robust Obamacare Enrollment
Consumer advocates and Obama administration officials started working to sign up millions of consumers for Obamacare coverage as the fourth open enrollment period kicks off. Kevin Counihan, the CEO of HealthCare.gov, said the administration is going “all out” this year with an education campaign and on-the-ground partnerships to encourage sign-ups. The administration needs a successful enrollment to ease concerns about the cost of insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Via Morning Consult.
Public Option for U.S. Health Insurance Gains Visibility in Debate Over Affordable Care Act
Advocates and opponents are gearing up for a life or death battle over a problematic Affordable Care Act in 2017, and the idea of a government option in health insurance is gaining some traction among Democratic legislators. Almost seven years ago, Congress and President Barack Obama undertook a health overhaul that deliberately avoided a government-run insurance alternative. Such an option has been considered a non-starter among Republicans and some centrist Democrats who oppose it as an unnecessary expansion of government into the nation’s health care system. Via Wall Street Journal.
Anthem Warns it Could Leave Obamacare Markets in 2018
The health insurer Anthem warned that it could retreat from the Affordable Care Act marketplace in 2018. The company would consider withdrawing from the marketplace if its financial results from marketplace plans don’t improve next year, CEO Joseph Swedish said detailing the insurer’s third-quarter earnings. Swedish said 2017 will be a “critical year” in determining the insurer’s plans for the exchanges going forward. Via Morning Consult.
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CDC: Progress Reducing Uninsured Rate Threatens to Stall
President Barack Obama's legacy health care law has reduced the number of Americans going without health insurance to historically low levels, but continued progress threatens to stall this year, according to a new government report. The study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests the law may be reaching a limit to its effectiveness in a nation politically divided over the government's role in guaranteeing coverage. Via AP.
Shopping For Obamacare Opens to Mixed Reviews From Consumers
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell has her work cut out for her. She has to convince millions of people who get their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges or who have no coverage at all that they should go online and shop for a good deal. Via NPR.
Is High-Deductible Health Insurance Worth the Risk?
As companies push workers to pay more for their medical care, millions of employees are facing a tough decision, choosing between high premiums and high deductibles. The choice is this: Pay more every month for peace of mind later, or pay less and run the risk of having higher out-of-pocket costs down the line. And increasingly, people are doing the math and deciding that the risk is worth it — leaving them responsible for thousands of dollars in medical bills and forcing them to make hard decisions about whether some care is worth it. Via NY Times.
Popular Obamacare Provision Hampering Push for Millennials
One of the most popular pieces of Obamacare could be hurting the administration’s push to attract more young people into the wobbly marketplace, according to several people who helped shape the law. The administration is staging campus enrollment drives and pouring money into Facebook and Instagram ads this year in an attempt to boost Obamacare enrollment among young adults. Because of the health care law, the White House says nearly 3 million young people under the age of 26 have been able to stay on their parents’ insurance plans and don’t have to shop for coverage on HealthCare.gov. Via The Hill.
As Insurers Cut Brokers’ Commissions, Consumers May Have One Less Tool For Enrollment
Some health insurance brokers are already fielding questions about coverage and whether existing plans will still be available next year. For an increasing number of brokers, there’s also another question: Will they get paid? Some insurers — including Cigna and Aetna — will not pay licensed agents and brokers a commission for helping people enroll in individual health insurance coverage for 2017 in many states, while others have reduced their commissions. They join UnitedHealthcare, which dropped commissions on new business this year in many states. Via Kaiser Health News.
NIH to Require Researchers Receiving Grants to Share Data
The National Institutes of Health will require applicants for federal research funding to submit a plan outlining how data gleaned from a potential project will be shared with the public, Director Francis Collins told CQ Roll Call. This move is part of a larger push from President Barack Obama’s administration to make information gathered from government-backed studies more public. Academic research institutions and others have traditionally kept such data private. Via Roll Call.