Coverage

Lawsuit: Aetna fertility coverage policy “an illegal tax” on LGBTQ people

The lawsuit alleges that an Aetna policy discriminates against LGBTQ people by requiring them to pay thousands in out-of-pocket costs for fertility treatments before becoming eligible for coverage. Though Aetna has agreed to pay the costs incurred by the plaintiffs, the suit aims to strike down the policy as a whole.

Report: Uninsured rate holds steady at 11% during pandemic despite job losses

The increase in access to public health insurance coverage — via legislation like the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that prevents states from disenrolling Medicaid beneficiaries — helped offset the loss of employer-sponsored insurance, the report from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows.

UnitedHealth subsidiaries settle mental health parity allegations for $15.6M

UnitedHealthcare and United Behavioral Health agreed to the settlement to resolve allegations that they illegally denied coverage for mental health and substance use disorder treatments. The allegations are related to business practices they no longer use, parent company UnitedHealth Group said.

UnitedHealthcare nixes some out-of-network coverage for non-emergencies

Per a policy update that went in to effect July 1, the health insurance giant is not covering non-emergency services that members receive at out-of-network facilities that are outside of their service area. This update mainly affects residential treatment facilities, inpatient rehabilitation and other non-hospital-based services.

Job losses, federal regulations drove Medicaid enrollment to a historic high

Enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program has reached a record high, with 80 million now covered through these programs. The spike was largely driven by the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic and a federal requirement that prevents states from removing people from the programs until the public health crisis is …

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Supreme Court upholds ACA, dismissing constitutional challenge

The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, dismissing the lawsuit brought by Texas, 17 other states and two individuals on the grounds that they were not able to prove they were harmed by the law. Industry stakeholders celebrated the court’s long-awaited decision.

Emergency physicians oppose new UnitedHealth policy enabling retroactive ED claims denial

UnitedHealthcare is instituting a new policy beginning July 1 that changes how the payer assesses emergency department claims, allowing it to retroactively deny ones it deems “non-emergent” or not an emergency. The American College of Emergency Physicians has made its opposition clear, stating the policy may violate federal law.

Supplemental Security Income for People with Disabilities: Implications for Medicaid

This issue brief describes key characteristics of SSI enrollees, explains the SSI eligibility criteria and eligibility determination process, and considers the implications of changes in the SSI program for Medicaid, including the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn as well as proposals supported by President Biden that Congress might consider.

Coverage parity for mental health, substance abuse, a key focus for insurance regulators

Health insurers are prohibited from placing unfavorable limits on mental health and substance abuse benefits, and yet, many do. Federal and state regulators are taking aim at these practices and making the enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 a key focus.

Expanding Medicare to Adults at Age 60 Years—Medicare-for-More?

In this column for the JAMA Health Forum, Larry Levitt examines the implications of lowering Medicare’s age of eligibility, which is emerging as a potential pathway toward Medicare-for-all or a public option among single-payer advocates. He explores the implications for costs, industry, people and broader reform efforts.

Lowering the Age of Medicare Eligibility to 60 Could Reduce the Cost of Health Care and Have a Modest Effect on the Number of People Who Are Uninsured

A new KFF analysis shows that lowering the age of Medicare eligibility to 60 could improve the affordability of coverage for people who are already insured and expand coverage to over a million of the nation’s 30 million uninsured. Such a policy could provide a path to Medicare coverage for up to 11.7 million people…More

CMS’ rule granting speedy coverage to FDA-designated ‘breakthrough’ devices delayed again

CMS delayed the start date of its rule that would provide expedited Medicare coverage for products the FDA deems “breakthrough devices” from May 15 to Dec. 15. CMS wants more time to examine concerns expressed about the rule, including that devices may gain coverage despite limited evidence of their use among seniors.

How Employer Actions Could Facilitate Equity in COVID-19 Vaccinations

Providing paid time off to employees to get and recover from any side effects could help boost vaccination rates. Overall, nearly three in ten (28%) employed adults who not yet ready to get the vaccine say that they would be more likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine if their employer gave them paid time off …

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Disparities in Health and Health Care: 5 Key Questions and Answers

Disparities in health and health care for people of color and underserved groups are longstanding challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these disparities and heightened the importance of addressing them. Health disparities are driven by underlying social and economic inequities that are rooted in racism. Addressing disparities is important not only from a social justice …

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New Analysis Summarizes Recent Research on the Effects of ACA Medicaid Expansion, Providing Context for Renewed Expansion Debates in States

New federal financial incentives for Medicaid expansion and the increased reliance on Medicaid as a coverage safety net during the pandemic have renewed debate in the 12 states that have not adopted the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. A new KFF literature review provides context for these expansion debates by summarizing evidence from…More

Vast Majority of Large Employers Surveyed Say Broader Government Role Will Be Necessary to Control Health Costs and Provide Coverage, Survey Finds

Top executives at nearly 90% of large employers surveyed believe the cost of providing health benefits to employees will become unsustainable in the next five-to-10 years, and 85% expect the government will be required to intervene to provide coverage and contain costs, according to a new survey released today from Purchaser Business Group on Health…More

What Are Some Policy Options for Reaching the 2.2 Million Uninsured People in the ACA’s “Coverage Gap”?

A new KFF issue brief explores several potential policy options that would help close the Affordable Care Act’s “coverage gap,” including providing further new incentives for states to expand Medicaid, creating a new “public option” or extending ACA Marketplace premium subsidies to low-income people who don’t currently qualify for federal help. At stake is affordable…More

Women’s Health Care Utilization and Costs: Findings from the 2020 KFF Women’s Health Survey

This brief presents findings from the 2020 KFF Women’s Health Survey on women’s use of health care services, costs, and experiences accessing health care. The 2020 survey is a nationally representative survey of 3,661 women ages 18 to 64, conducted between November 19 and December 17, 2020.

Illinois first state to offer full Medicaid benefits to women one year postpartum 

As part of its ongoing effort to improve maternal outcomes in the country, the government has approved Illinois’ request to extend full Medicaid coverage for new mothers. The approval extends the coverage from 60 days to one year and will give about 2,500 women living below the poverty line access to care every year.

How the American Rescue Plan Act Affects Subsidies for Marketplace Shoppers and People Who Are Uninsured

This brief use data from the American Community Survey (ACS) to provide estimates of eligibility for and the amount of financial assistance to purchase Marketplace coverage under the ARPA among both current individual market purchasers, as well as Marketplace-eligible uninsured people.

Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act aims to bolster the ACA. Here’s how.

President Joe Biden recently signed the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package into law. The American Rescue Plan Act includes several provisions to boost coverage under the ACA, like widening eligibility for premium tax credits.

How are States Addressing Racial Equity in COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts?

This brief reviews information available through state websites and publicly available vaccine distribution plans to provide greater insight into how states are addressing equity through vaccine allocation and distribution strategies, outreach and communications efforts, and data collection and reporting. It provides a snapshot and examples of state efforts in these areas.

ACA Open Enrollment Matters for Medicaid Coverage, Too

President Biden’s January 28th executive order to reopen enrollment in the federal ACA Marketplace from February 15 through May 15, combined with $50 million in federal spending on outreach and education about ACA coverage options, has the potential to reach millions of people who were uninsured prior to or have lost coverage during the pandemic. …

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Analyzing Recent Trends in Medicaid/CHIP Applications: What We Do and Do Not Know

This data note discusses changes in the number of applications for Medicaid/CHIP coverage during the coronavirus pandemic. Although enrollment in Medicaid/CHIP has increased steadily by more than 6 million individuals (9%) from February to September 2020, the total number of Medicaid/CHIP applications has decreased by more than 150,000 (-6%) in the same time period. The …

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Key Issues for State Medicaid Programs When the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Ends

As a result of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) , states have experienced increased enrollment along with administrative challenges. After the PHE ends, states are likely to have renewal and redetermination backlogs and will face decisions around continuing temporary policy changes. This brief highlights key issues from the new CMS guidance to states on …

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The Coverage Gap: Uninsured Poor Adults in States that Do Not Expand Medicaid

In states that do not implement the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many adults will fall into a “coverage gap” of earning too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for Marketplace premium tax credits. Nationwide, 2.2 million poor uninsured adults are in this situation. This brief presents estimates …

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The Language of Health Care Reform

Published in the Jan. 19 edition of JAMA, this article from KFF Executive Vice President for Health Policy Larry Levitt lays out the major health policy challenges that will confront President-elect Biden and potential approaches to major reform. While a big reform debate may not be likely this year, one is likely coming as the…More

New CMS rule to enable immediate coverage for FDA-designated ‘breakthrough’ devices

The agency has finalized a rule that allows it to provide immediate Medicare coverage for FDA-approved products that are deemed “breakthrough devices.” The new coverage process would enable seniors to get access to these devices more quickly, but some provider and payer groups are concerned that this could cause patient harm.

How Has the Pandemic Affected Health Coverage in the U.S.?

Findings from administrative data suggest that the decline in enrollment among employer-sponsored insurance was far less than overall declines in employment as of September, and that many who did lose their job-based coverage likely found a safety net in coverage through Medicaid or the ACA marketplaces.

Preventive Services Tracker

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires new private health insurance plans to cover many recommended preventive services without any patient cost-sharing. This tracker presents up-to-date information on the adult preventive services nongrandfathered private plans must cover, by condition, including a summary of the recommendation, the target population, the effective date of coverage, and related federal …

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Explaining Health Care Reform: Questions About Health Insurance Subsidies

This brief describes health insurance subsidies available through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, including premium subsidies that would be provided in the form of tax credits, as well as other subsidies that would lower cost sharing to eligible Americans. It provides details on who is eligible for the assistance, the maximum repayment limits for the …

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Medicaid Covers People with Pre-Existing Conditions, Too

In recent weeks, the possible overturning of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in court and the upcoming election have focused attention on the issue of protections for people with pre-existing conditions. While the focus has been on the ACA’s private insurance protections, Medicaid also plays a significant role in covering people with pre-existing conditions.

Election 2020: State Health Care Snapshots

Health care is a top issue for voters in the 2020 election. To understand the health care landscape in which the 2020 election policy debates will unfold, these state health care snapshots provide data across a variety of health policy subjects, including health care costs, health coverage—Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance—and the uninsured, women’s health, health …

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A Reconfigured U.S. Supreme Court: Implications for Health Policy

U.S. Supreme Court decisions shape health policy in important ways. The nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, if confirmed, is expected to establish a solid 6:3 conservative majority that could affect case outcomes in several areas. This issue brief considers the potential implications of a reconfigured Court for health policy issues, including those already on …

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Average Family Premiums Rose 4% to $21,342 in 2020, Benchmark KFF Employer Health Benefit Survey Finds

San Francisco – Annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose 4% to average $21,342 this year, according to the 2020 benchmark KFF Employer Health Benefits Survey. On average, workers this year are contributing $5,588 toward the cost of family coverage, with employers paying the rest. The survey was conducted from January to July as…More

2020 Employer Health Benefits Survey

This annual survey of employers provides a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage, including premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions, offer rates, wellness programs, and employer practices. Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $21,342 this year, up 4% from last year, with workers on average paying $5,588 toward the cost of their …

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Insurance Coverage and Viral Suppression Among People with HIV in the United States, 2015-2018

Health insurance coverage and access to care improve health outcomes, including viral suppression, for people with HIV in the United States. Prior research has demonstrated that implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014 increased coverage among people with HIV and that certain forms of coverage are positively correlated with sustained viral suppression. We …

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