With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) ninth open enrollment period (OEP) set to launch in less than a month, the ACA Marketplaces are seeing record enrollment numbers with more generous subsidies, new carrier competition, and a relatively stable rating environment. At the same time, there is uncertainty with the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic and medical costs trending upward as the economy recovers, albeit at an uneven pace. These trends have made for a challenging rate review process in the 47 states plus the District of Columbia (D.C.) that conduct their own ACA rate reviews of carrier-proposed rates using federal review standards. State announcements of 2022 rates have trickled out at a slower pace than in prior years, and it is likely that many states will not publish their approved rates until the beginning of open enrollment. As always, state rate results vary widely and, even within states, there often are substantial variations among carriers and across different regions in geographically diverse states. With these caveats, this expert perspective highlights some observations about the factors that are impacting rate changes this year and the kind of variations that exist among states.
Updated Network Adequacy Planning Tool for States
Included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are certain requirements regarding the adequacy of provider networks developed by health insurers to deliver covered services to their enrollees. The requirements provide broad parameters within which insurance regulators and other state officials responsible for network adequacy must evaluate the networks of Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) operating in their markets. This network adequacy planning tool for states provides an overview of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation on minimum network adequacy standards. The tool is in Word format, and is designed to be used as a template to assist states in developing analysis plans that will inform discussions around updating network adequacy standards.