In 2019, the Washington legislature enacted a bill requiring insurers on the state’s health insurance exchange to offer plans with standardized benefit designs, beginning in 2021. Colorado and Maryland are considering similar requirements. As these and other states consider the option of standardized health plans, they can benefit from the experiences of California, the District of Columbia (D.C.), Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Vermont, all of which require insurers to offer standardized benefit designs. This Expert Perspective outlines benefits and risks of plan standardization, and raises critical questions that states will need to consider, and offers a decision roadmap for states implementing a standardized benefit design requirement.
Predicting the Effects of the Affordable Care Act: A Comparative Analysis of Health Policy Microsimulation Models
Jean M. Abraham, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
Microsimulation models were utilized throughout the legislative process that led to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and these models continue to play a prominent role in understanding the likely effects of federal health care reform provisions on insurance coverage and cost at both the national level and, increasingly, within individual states. This brief examines five major federal health policy simulation models. Components of these models vary, and the similarities and differences between the models have important consequences for states as they evaluate model outputs and/or contract options for state specific policy microsimulations. The issue brief explains the basics of microsimulation modeling so that policymakers and analysts are better able to assess modeling outputs and make informed decisions when contracting with a microsimulation vendor. A related webinar provided an overview of the five major models, discussed how one state has utilized microsimulation modeling and highlighted questions states should consider when contracting for or using modeling outputs. An archived replay of the webinar is available here.