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Private Insurance Benefits and Cost-Sharing Under the ACA

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released guidance on the two key components that determine the level of protection that private insurance plans will provide to consumers under health reform. The first involves the services that insurance plans must cover, and the second involves how much patients…

Insurance Coverage of Contraceptives

In this post, we answer some of the key questions about the new contraceptive coverage policy generally, and more specifically, how it will be applied to religious organizations.

Betting on Private Insurers

Just-released estimates of national health spending in 2010 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) show that 45% of our health care spending is financed by the federal and state governments, primarily through the Medicare and Medicaid programs. This share has grown temporarily in recent years because of the…

The Requirement to Buy Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act

Along with changes to the health insurance system that guarantee access to coverage to everyone regardless of pre-existing health conditions, the Affordable Care Act includes a requirement that many people be insured or pay a penalty. This simple flowchart illustrates how that requirement (sometimes known as an “individual mandate”) works.…

Insurance Brokers and the Medical Loss Ratio

In a close vote, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) recently adopted a resolution urging Congress and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to exempt insurance broker and agent compensation from medical loss ratio (MLR) requirements or otherwise adjust the requirements to ease their effect. HHS last…

Webcast: New CMS Estimates of State-by-State Health Expenditures

The Kaiser Family Foundation held a live interactive webcast on December 7, 2011, to discuss trends in state health care expenditures and the implications for national and state efforts to constrain health care costs. The webcast examines new state-by-state estimates of public and private health spending from the Centers for…

The Economy and Medical Care

Various market watchers have reported that the use of health care services has not been growing recently as it had in the past, resulting in lower than expected health care claims for people with private insurance and higher than expected earnings for insurers. A look at physician office visits by…

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,…

Uniform Coverage Summaries for Consumers

This brief explains the proposed federal rule that requires private health plans to provide a short, easy-to-read uniform summary of benefits and coverage to all health insurance applicants and enrollees. The rule, which implements a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is intended to make it simpler for consumers…

How Competitive Are State Health Insurance Markets?

Beginning in 2014, state-based health insurance exchanges will be created to facilitate coverage and choice, with the hope that enhanced competition among insurers will help to moderate premiums for individuals and small groups. This analysis by the Foundation assesses the competitiveness of state insurance markets for individuals and small businesses…