On January 15, 2022, health insurers will be subject to new federal requirements to cover and waive cost-sharing for over-the-counter diagnostic tests for COVID-19 for the duration of the federal public health emergency. Past federal guidance required insurers to fully cover COVID-19 tests, but allowed them to require enrollees to first obtain a health professional’s determination that a test is medically necessary. The new requirements, published January 10, enable consumers to obtain the tests directly from pharmacies or online retailers without being seen by a health professional. With case rates surging and the costs of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests ranging from $14 to $34, this new benefit should provide significant financial relief to privately insured individuals. This expert perspective focuses on key provisions of the new coverage requirements as well as health equity considerations and implications for state insurance regulators.
The Impact of Medicaid Expansion on Uncompensated Care Costs: Early Results and Policy Implications for States
Deborah Bachrach, Patricia Boozang, and Mindy Lipson, Manatt Health Solutions
Since implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the 30 states that have expanded Medicaid have enrolled more than 10 million people in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the collective rate of uninsured individuals in these states has fallen from 18 percent to less than 11 percent. Recent research by Manatt Health Solutions looked at the fiscal implications of expansion and found that, in addition to coverage gains, expansion states experienced significant budget savings and revenue gains. This issue brief, the third in this series prepared by Manatt Health Solutions, examines early data on expansion-related decreases in uncompensated care costs and related state budget implications. It also looks at impending reductions in federal support for Medicaid Disproportionate Share (DSH) payments and waiver pools made available to support hospital uncompensated care costs prior to the Medicaid expansion authorized and funded under the ACA.