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Employer-Sponsored Family Health Premiums Rise a Modest 4 Percent in 2013, National Benchmark Employer Survey Finds

Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $16,351 this year, up 4 percent from last year, with workers on average paying $4,565 toward the cost of their coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) 2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey. This year’s rise in premiums remains moderate by historical standards. The 15th annual Kaiser/HRET survey of more than 2,000 small and large employers provides a detailed picture of the status and trends in employer-sponsored health insurance costs and coverage.

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: February 2014

The February 2014 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that those who are most likely to be customers in the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s new insurance exchanges (the uninsured and those who purchase their own coverage) are more likely to prefer less costly plans with narrow provider networks over more expensive plans with broader networks, while the public overall has the opposite preference. Overall opinion of the ACA remains about the same as it has been since November, with just under half the public viewing the law unfavorably and just over a third having a favorable view.

All Eyes on the Supreme Court: More than Birth Control at Stake

On March 25th, the Supreme Court will hear two cases brought by for-profit corporations challenging the ACA’s contraceptive coverage rule on religious grounds. These two corporations are Hobby Lobby, a national chain of craft stores owned by a Christian family and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinet manufacturer, owned by a Mennonite family. Beyond the impact on the ACA and contraceptive coverage, the Court’s decision may have implications for religious rights of employers and employees, as well as corporate and civil rights laws. This brief examines three fundamental questions raised by some of the 84 amicus briefs that have been submitted to the Court.

Sizing Up Exchange Market Competition

This issue brief offers an early look into how competitive the health insurance exchanges (also called marketplaces) are under the Affordable Care Act in selected states. Through analysis of enrollment data released by seven states (California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Washington) this brief finds that exchange markets in California and New York are shaping up to be more competitive than their individual markets were in 2012 while those of Connecticut and Washington show less competition. In several states, market shares of individual insurers have shifted significantly compared to the individual market prior to the ACA, pointing to the potential for greater price competition in the future and the influence of new entrants to the market.

A Guide to the Supreme Court’s Review of the Contraceptive Coverage Requirement

This issue brief dissects the issues raised by the legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that private insurance plans include contraception as part of their coverage of preventive services for women. Over 40 for-profit corporations and over 40 nonprofit corporations have filed lawsuits claiming that the requirement to provide their employees with contraceptives violates their religious rights. On November 26, 2013, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases filed by for-profit corporations, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, that claim that this requirement violates their religious rights. At the crux of these cases is a question that the Supreme Court has not previously addressed: Do for-profit corporations have religious protections under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment? The brief provides background on how the ACA’s contraceptive requirement works, summarizes some of the legal challenges brought by for-profit and non-profit organizations and discusses the implications of potential rulings by the Supreme Court.

Grandfathering Explained

The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives recently indicated that it will be seeking to repeal regulations under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that govern the “grandfathered” status of health plans. As this aspect of the health reform law gets more scrutiny, it may be useful to review some of…

Questions About Essential Health Benefits

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently issued its long-awaited report on defining the essential health benefits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As expected, the committee preparing the IOM report did not recommend which specific services should be covered, but rather discussed what the process should be for defining the essential benefits,…

An Employer Health Benefits Balance Sheet

There seems to be growing interest in the question of how many employers will keep offering coverage to their full-time employees once the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is fully implemented in 2014, or instead will choose to stop offering coverage and pay a penalty. While there is some good analysis…

Peering Into the Black Box of Insurance Rating

Recently, the New York Times reported that private health insurers continue to seek large premium increases despite seeing lower than expected use of medical care and booking record profits. The story highlights a significant problem for health policy: the lack of good, public information about how health insurers manage health…