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Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund

Anna L Goldman, Benjamin D Sommers
Issue: Kansas remains one of 17 states that have not expanded Medicaid. In 2017, the Kansas legislature voted to expand Medicaid, but former Governor Sam Brownback vetoed the measure. Goal: To examine evidence on health care coverage and access among low-income Kansans and to review the potential impact of expanding Medicaid with the possible addition of a work requirement as a condition of eligibility. Methods: Findings from a telephone survey of 1,000 low-income nonelderly adults in Kansas were compared with data on low-income adults in Ohio and Indiana, both of which expanded Medicaid...
September 1, 2018: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Cathy Schoen, Karen Davis, Amber Willink, Christine Buttorf
Issue: An estimated 40 percent of low-income Medicare beneficiaries spend 20 percent or more of their incomes on premiums and health care costs. Low-income beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions or high need are at particular risk of financial hardship. High cost burdens reflect Medicare premiums and cost-sharing, gaps in benefits, and limited assistance. Existing policies to help people with low incomes are fragmented — meaning that beneficiaries apply separately, sometimes to different offices — and require Medicare beneficiaries to navigate complex applications...
September 1, 2018: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Jame C Robinson
Issue: Reference pricing is an emerging health insurance benefit design aimed at reducing health costs. In this model, an insurer establishes a maximum payment that it will contribute toward covering the price of a product or service in situations where there is wide price variation for therapeutically similar drugs, diagnostics, or procedures. Experiences to date indicate that reference pricing can influence patients and physicians to switch to less costly options within each therapeutic class, reducing overall drug prices...
September 1, 2018: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Jodi Liu, Christine Eibner
Issue: Recent changes to the Affordable Care Act, including elimination of the individual mandate penalty, the halting of federal payments for cost-sharing reductions, and expanded access to short-term plans, may reduce enrollment in the individual market. Goal: Analyze options to increase enrollment, accounting for recent policy changes. Methods: RAND’s COMPARE microsimulation model is used to analyze six policies that would expand access to tax credits, increase their generosity, and fund a reinsurance program...
August 1, 2018: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
JoAnn Volk, Emily Curran, Justin Giovannelli
Issue: Health care sharing ministries (HCSMs) are a form of health coverage in which members--who typically share a religious belief--make monthly payments to cover expenses of other members. HCSMs do not have to comply with the consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act and may provide value for some individuals, but pose risks for others. Although HCSMs are not insurance and do not guarantee payment of claims, their features closely mimic traditional insurance products, possibly confusing consumers...
August 1, 2018: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Karen Davis, Amber Willink, Ian Stockwell, Kaitlyn Whiton, Julia Burgdorf, Cynthia Woodcock
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
June 1, 2018: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Nathan D Shippee, Katherine D Vickery
Issue: Access to health care, use of services, and patient outcomes can be complicated by many medical and nonmedical factors. People facing complex challenges such as mental illness, housing insecurity, or substance use, however, are not a homogeneous group; different individuals have different needs. Goals: To understand the needs of people with very low income--no more than 75 percent of the federal poverty level--who enrolled in Medicaid under Minnesota’s expansion of the program prior to the Affordable Care Act...
May 1, 2018: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Stan Dorn
Issue: Consumers' concerns about affordability limit participation in ACA marketplaces. Funded by local hospital systems and run by independent nonprofits, third-party payment (TPP) programs improve affordability for low-income consumers by paying premium costs not covered by tax credits. Goal: To assess the potential of TPP to make marketplace coverage more affordable, without harming insurance risk pools. Methods: Interviews in May and June 2016 with program administrators, hospital systems, carriers, and consumer groups in five localities and the Washington State marketplace...
May 1, 2018: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Henry Waxman, Bill Corr, Kristi Martin, Sophia Duong
Issue: Prescription drug prices have been climbing, creating significant barriers for patients. Since becoming U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb announced an action plan and several policy changes to increase generic drug competition and transparency to address high prescription drug prices. Goal: This issue brief aims to explain the FDA's plan of action and assess its implementation to date. It also aims to assess whether FDA actions, if implemented, address the known problems leading to high drug pricing...
April 1, 2018: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Sherry Glied, Ougni Chakraborti
Issue: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulates the price of health plans sold in the nongroup market. Premiums cannot be based on gender or health status, and price increases related to age are limited. These changes have lowered premiums for older, sicker people but raised them for younger, healthier ones--especially young men ineligible for premium subsidies. This has raised concerns that the latter have failed to gain coverage. Goal: Compare the impact of the ACA's rating rules on the number of insured young men, older adults, and others...
April 1, 2018: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Stuart Guterman, Laura Skopec, Stephen Zuckerman
Issue: Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollment has grown significantly since 2009, despite legislation that reduced what Medicare pays these plans to provide care to enrollees. MA payments, on average, now approach parity with costs in traditional Medicare. Goal: Examine changes in per enrollee costs between 2009 and 2014 to better understand how MA plans have continued to thrive even as payments decreased. Methods: Analysis of Medicare data on MA plan bids, net of rebates...
March 1, 2018: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Jon R Gabel, Heidi Whitmore, Matthew Green, Sam Stromber
Issue: In 2017, five states--Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming--had only one issuer participating in their health care marketplaces, limiting consumer choice and competition among insurers. Goal: Examine the history of participation in the individual market from 2010 (before the Affordable Care Act was enacted) to 2017, and analyze premium changes among marketplace plans. Methods: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's HIX Compare, which provides national data on the marketplaces from 2014 to 2017...
March 1, 2018: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Amber Willink, Cathy Shoen, Karen Davis
Issue: The Medicare program specifically excludes coverage of dental, vision, and hearing services. As a result, many beneficiaries do not receive necessary care. Those that do are subject to high out-of-pocket costs. Goal: Examine gaps in access to dental, vision, and hearing services for Medicare beneficiaries and design a voluntary dental, vision, and hearing benefit plan with cost estimates. Methods: Uses the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, Cost and Use File, 2012, with population and costs projected to 2016 values...
January 1, 2018: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Ruben Amarashingham, Bin Xie, Albert Karam, Nam Nguyen, Bianca Kapoor
Issue: Our health care and social services delivery systems are not well-equipped to effectively manage patients with multiple chronic diseases and complex social needs such as food, housing, or substance abuse services. Community-level efforts have emerged across the nation to integrate the activities of disparate social service organizations with local health care delivery systems. Evidence on the experiences and outcomes of these programs is emerging, and there is much to learn about their approaches and challenges...
January 1, 2018: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Stephen Zuckerman, Laura Skopec, Stuart Guterman
Issue: Medicare Advantage (MA), the program that allows people to receive their Medicare benefits through private health plans, uses a benchmark-and-bidding system to induce plans to provide benefits at lower costs. However, prior research suggests medical costs, profits, and other plan costs are not as low under this system as they might otherwise be. Goal: To examine how well the current system encourages MA plans to bid their lowest cost by examining the relationship between costs and bonuses (rebates) and the benchmarks Medicare uses in determining plan payments...
December 1, 2017: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Susan L Hayes, Sarah R Collins, David C Radley, Douglas McCarthy
Issue: Given uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act, it is useful to examine the progress in coverage and access made under the law. Goal: Compare state trends in access to affordable health care between 2013 and 2016. Methods: Analysis of recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Findings and Conclusions: Between 2013 and 2016, the uninsured rate for adults ages 19 to 64 declined in all states and the District of Columbia, and fell by at least 5 percentage points in 47 states...
December 1, 2017: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Yash M Patel, Stuart Guterman
Issue: Since the 1980s, private plans have played an increasingly important role in the Medicare program. While initially created with the goals of reducing costs, improving choice, and enhancing quality, risk-based plans--now known as Medicare Advantage plans--have undergone significant policy changes since their inception; these changes have not always aligned with the original policy objectives. Goal: To examine major policy changes to Medicare risk plans and the effects of these policies on plan participation, enrollment, average premiums and cost-sharing, total costs to Medicare, and quality of care...
December 1, 2017: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
David Machledt
Issue: With its emphasis on coordinated care and prevention, managed care should be tailor-made to tackle social determinants of health. But various challenges discourage Medicaid health plans and providers from assisting beneficiaries with nonmedical concerns such as housing insecurity or parenting skills that are integral to improving health outcomes and lowering costs. To better address these social factors, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) updated its Medicaid managed care rule in early 2016...
November 1, 2017: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Allen Dobson, Joan E DaVanzo, Randy Haught, Luu Phap-Hoa
Issue: Safety-net hospitals play a vital role in delivering health care to Medicaid enrollees, the uninsured, and other vulnerable patients. By reducing the number of uninsured Americans, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was also expected to lower these hospitals’ significant uncompensated care costs and shore up their financial stability. Goal: To examine how the ACA’s Medicaid expansion affected the financial status of safety-net hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid and in states that did not...
November 1, 2017: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
Amber Willink, Karen Davis, John Mulcahy, Jennifer L Wolff
Issue: Older adults who reside in communities, as opposed to nursing homes or other residential institutions, are largely dependent on family and unpaid caregivers for assistance with daily activities, like preparing meals or laundry, and self-care tasks like bathing or dressing. For low-income older adults, assistance with such activities, also known as long-term services and supports (LTSS), can also come from Medicaid. These sources of support will be increasingly inadequate as the population ages...
November 1, 2017: Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund
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