Expert Perspectives

Oct 30, 2020 

Stable Rates Reflect Strength of ACA Marketplaces

The start of the 2021 rate review process for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplaces coincided with the initial outbreak of COVID-19 cases, and early forecasts were ominous, with rate increases projected as high as 40 percent. There was also widespread concern about how to set rates when insurers’ COVID-related costs looked anything but predictable. In short, it looked like, after a period of relative stability in Marketplace rates, enrollees might be in for a rollercoaster ride. This expert perspective provides a brief overview of how the rate review process has developed since the first ACA OEP in 2013 and how those developments came together this year to enable regulators and insurers to manage uncertainty and achieve more stable rates for the 2021 plan year.

Oct 30, 2020 

Ensuring Access to the COVID-19 Vaccine for Adult Medicaid Enrollees: A Roadmap for States

This expert perspective provides a roadmap for states to assess their vaccine coverage policies in Medicaid and, if necessary, to close any coverage gaps that might otherwise inhibit vaccine uptake during a crucial period of mass immunization. The concluding section discusses the possibility of congressional action that may alter the federal landscape for Medicaid vaccine coverage.

Oct 29, 2020 

Ensuring Access to the COVID-19 Vaccine for Enrollees in Private Health Insurance: A Roadmap for States

Several COVID-19 vaccines could be on the market soon. State and federal officials have begun devising strategies for distributing and administering the vaccine and communicating with the public, but an equally important element will be the extent to which health care payers, including private insurers, will cover the costs for recipients. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that most health insurers and employer health plans cover certain preventive services without cost-sharing, including vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). However, ensuring that a COVID-19 vaccine is a free preventive service for all who need it, when they need it, is by no means guaranteed. This expert perspective discusses recent federal efforts to expand private insurance coverage of a vaccine, and provides a roadmap for states to close remaining coverage gaps that could inhibit vaccine uptake.

Oct 27, 2020 

COVID-19 and MLR Guidance on Risk Corridor Recoveries: State Options for Restoring Funds to Policyholders and the Public

In April 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government must restore to health insurers approximately $12.3 billion in risk corridor payments under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On September 30, the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) proposed instructions on how to allocate these risk corridor payments under the ACA’s medical loss ratio (MLR) formula. This guidance means that policyholders will receive an estimated 2.4 percent ($298 million) of the risk corridor payout in the form of MLR rebates. This expert perspective considers ways states could potentially redirect insurers’ extra cash to benefit policyholders and the public.

Oct 20, 2020 

Collaborating to Connect Consumers to Coverage

This year has presented many unique and unexpected challenges, but as open enrollment approaches states are making concerted efforts to connect residents with public and private health coverage options and are anticipating more churn between programs than ever before amid the COVID-19 public health crisis. Millions have filed for unemployment since the pandemic began, many losing their employer-sponsored health coverage or experiencing income loss in the process. As consumers navigate ongoing changes in their income or health coverage, it is more important than ever to clearly communicate with consumers what health coverage options are available for the remainder of 2020 and heading into 2021. This expert perspective lays out key takeaways on messaging to consumers to enroll in coverage this OEP and highlights examples from two states.

Oct 13, 2020 

Equitable Recovery Strategies

As state officials shift their focus towards loosening social distancing policies and reopening, they must now grapple with balancing both economic and public health concerns while also considering how reopening policies will impact residents in very different ways, possibly mitigating or exacerbating preexisting disparities. This expert perspective provides a survey of actions that state and local governments have taken to intentionally incorporate equity into their recovery and reopening policies.