[…] The proposed regulations from HHS for the exchanges come to 244 pages, but Timothy notes that they are “practical, sensible, and functional” and that HHS tried to simplify things wherever possible, rather than complicate them. For anyone who wants to get the gist of the proposed regulations without reading the 244 pages that HHS released this month, I highly recommend that you check out Timothy’s article. […]
[…] Because of the new law, employers can now use wage adjustments to reimburse employees for individual policies (as long as they haven’t had a group policy in the past twelve months), which wasn’t allowed at all in the past. But the use of HRAs to fund individual policies can now only be done if the employer hasn’t had a group policy in the past twelve months, and that restriction wasn’t found in the DOI final agency order regarding HRAs. […]
[…] In terms of underwriting actions for less serious conditions (those that don’t result in a decline), GettingUsCovered only takes people who have been offered a policy with an exclusion rider… which most carriers don’t do anymore. Perhaps this is resulting in GettingUsCovered being comprised mostly of members who have a condition that would result in a decline in the individual market, while CoverColorado has those members as well as members who have less serious conditions that simply result in a higher-priced policy in the individual market.
[…] The merger is expected to provide numerous benefits for both hospital systems, and will presumably make for lower total operating/administrative costs than they would have if they weren’t working together. As health care costs continue to climb, this should help both hospitals continue to provide quality care to their patients. It’s also reasonable to assume that the merger will be beneficial for UCH and PVHS patients, since access to both hospital system’s strengths will likely be available to patients in both Denver and Northern Colorado. […]
[…] This is a good example of how similar legislation does not necessarily have the same support or outcomes in different states. That’s not to say that the Health Care Affordability Act is universally supported in Colorado – it’s not. But it’s working relatively well as a vehicle to fund Medicaid here and to support Colorado hospitals that treat a large number of uninsured patients.
[…] Overall, the survey is very thorough, the questions are mostly objective, and the data obtained from 1300 employers is no doubt a useful barometer of current employer attitudes towards health care reform. But I imagine that if the sentence about assuming that exchanges will make individual health insurance easy and affordable had not been included, the number of employers who said that they plan to drop their group plans might not have been so high. Time will tell.
[…] If the rates are justified, they’ll likely be approved – even if the amount of the increase is distastefully large. The DOI is not trying to keep premiums artificially low or force carriers to cut out legitimate claims expenses. Having rates approved by the DOI does not mean that the people of Colorado get smaller-than-average premium increases. Rather, it means that although our rate increases are sometimes substantial, we know that those rates are justified as a reflection of increasing claims costs.
[…] The 27 states (including Colorado) that administer their own PCIPs have been notified by HHS that they can modify their programs in a similar manner. As of this morning, the GettingUSCovered website still has the same eligibility guidelines that it has always had: a letter from a private carrier stating that the applicant has been declined, or approved with an exclusion on a pre-existing condition. […]
[…] Even if parents with kids in CHP+ do smoke and buy lottery tickets at a higher rate than parents with private health insurance, what’s to make us think that they would all of a sudden stop spending money on those things and instead pay premiums for CHP+? Is our goal to punish those parents for what better-off families view as poor choices, or is the goal to make sure that as many kids as possible have health insurance? If it’s the latter, then the point made by Senator Brophy is irrelevant.
[…] If the government can tell the health insurance carriers that no more than 15 – 20% of premium dollars can be spent on administrative expenses, including profits, why can’t similar guidelines be enacted for the pharmaceutical industry? Perhaps then we wouldn’t need to worry as much about who is going to pay the cost of prescription drugs for seniors. And maybe individual health insurance policies could start covering prescriptions with basic copays again.
The Colorado legislative session that wrapped up this month was a busy one for Colorado-specific health care reform. Despite a few bumps in the road, SB200 passed, which means that Colorado is now on its way to creating a health insurance exchange that will address the particular needs of individuals and small businesses in the state. Although this bill was controversial simply because the whole idea of exchanges is too closely tied with the PPACA […]
[…] One of the provisions of the PPACA is for the federal government to assist the states in funding the creation of health insurance exchanges. In a largely symbolic vote, the US House of Representatives voted last week to block that funding. HR1213 would prevent the federal government from spending money to help the states set up their own health insurance exchanges. It passed in the Republican-dominated House, but […]
The Colorado Division of Insurance recently released the 2010 small group market report. The number of employers in Colorado offering small group health insurance dropped by 10% compared with 2009, and the number of Colorado residents with small group health insurance coverage dropped by 7%. The report contains comprehensive data on the availability of coverage, carriers in the small group market, pricing, and how the rating flexibility laws have impacted the market. […]
[…] However, the real world is not always ideal. The Post editorial makes some very good points, and I don’t doubt that if CPH+ moves to a monthly premium system this summer, there will be some kids who lose their coverage, and fewer children will enroll in the future compared with how many would have enrolled if monthly premiums were not part of the deal. […]
[…] But presumably if the child is eligible for coverage through a parent’s employer, individual health insurance carriers would not be required to offer the child a child-only policy. As we’ve noted in the past, child-only policies represent a very small fraction of the individual health insurance market, but within the child-only market, it would seem that there are a lot of children who are also eligible for other creditable coverage (albeit more expensive coverage…). It will be interesting to see if this becomes an issue once all the carriers return to the child-only market. […]
The language of the law was modified to include open-enrollment periods during which children could apply for coverage, and last September the Colorado Division of Insurance officially designated those open-enrollment periods as January and July each year. The idea was that with open-enrollment periods rather than constant access to new policies, parents would be less likely to wait until a child was sick to seek coverage. But even with the open-enrollment periods, only two carriers – Rocky Mountain Health Plans and […]
[…] Regardless of whether you support the federal healthcare reform laws, it’s hard to see how it would be better for Colorado to forgo creating a state-specific exchange. Doing so would mean that Colorado would have to participate in a federally-run exchange instead, and obviously such a program is not going to be geared to the specific needs of the people and businesses in Colorado. So although there are still likely to be plenty of legal battles over the Constitutionality and implementation of the federal healthcare reform law, it makes sense for states to move ahead in creating their own exchanges.
[…] It’s true that we can’t just keep expanding Medicaid without figuring out ways to fund the expansion, but we also can’t ignore the needs of the uninsured population, many of whom are uninsured because of the cost of health insurance (even if they might not technically qualify for Medicaid under the current rules). Regardless of the future of the federal Medicaid mandates, hopefully the focus of the state leadership will be on finding additional ways to generate funds and increase efficiency in order to be able to provide real access to health care for as many Colorado residents as possible.
[…] A state with two functional insurance carriers offering individual policies is obviously going to have a very different marketplace than a state with ten major carriers competing for business. It will be interesting to see how things play out in the states that are granted temporary MLR waivers by CMS. Three years from now, will their insurance markets be able to provide adequate coverage and also comply with the 80/85% MLR guidelines? Or will the waivers morph into something that allows the impacted states to set their own guidelines? Time will tell.
Last week it appeared that Colorado Democrats and Republicans were prepared to work together to begin the process of creating a health insurance exchange for the state. But the bipartisan friendliness didn’t last long. House Majority Leader Amy Stephens (R – Monument) is a co-sponsor of the bill, and has faced a lot of criticism in the past week from conservative Republicans and the Tea Party over her support for the legislation to create the exchange. Stephens has also co-sponsored a bill that would allow Colorado to opt out of federal health care reform laws, and she has made it clear that she does not support the PPACA. But she and other lawmakers on both sides of the aisle felt […]
[…] But although the spending caps will be beneficial to families that have large medical expenses, they do nothing to actually address the rising cost of health care, and the over-utilization that is also driving costs. This has been a recurring theme with a lot of the provisions created by health care reform: we’re finding ways to spread the costs in a more equitable fashion, but we’re not really addressing the fact that the total cost burden of health care in this country isn’t sustainable on its current trajectory, no matter how much we spread it out across the population.
[…] It’s always good to see new innovations that help to expand access to healthcare, and clinic memberships that allow people to cover their day to day medical expenses with a predictable annual fee and low cost appointments is likely to be quite popular, especially among people who can’t afford comprehensive health insurance. But as with any other product, a clear awareness of what you’re purchasing (or being offered, if an employer is covering the cost) will help to avoid future surprises.
[…] Senate Bill 200 (the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Act), co-sponsored by Senator Betty Boyd (D – Lakewood) gets the ball rolling on the health insurance exchange that the state will have to have in place by 2014. Specifically, the bill would create a “nonprofit unincorporated public entity known as the Health Benefit Exchange”. It includes guidelines for the appointment of a 12-member board of directors (9 of whom will be voting members) who will oversee the exchange, and lays out their responsibilities. […]
[…] I wrote last fall about the new high risk pool in Colorado – GettingUsCovered – and how it differs from our existing high risk pool, CoverColorado (which has been operating for two decades). In states like Colorado that have existing state pools in addition to the federally-backed pools, there may be adequate options for people with pre-existing conditions, assuming that funding for both programs holds out until 2014. But in states that only have a PPACA-created pool, there are definitely some cracks to fall through, including the requirement that applicants be uninsured for six months before they can join the pool.
Good news for those applying to United HealthOne:
Beginning with applications received on March 24, 2011, the processing of credit card or EFT payment will not take place until the application is approved and issued.
It’s about time. It was tough to explain to clients “and yeah, they’re going to charge you before they’ve even made a decision.”