The Commonwealth Fund Connection

The Commonwealth Fund Connection is a roundup of recent Fund publications, charts, multimedia, and other timely content. 

Insurance Rebates, Reduced Premiums Expected from Affordable Care Act Rule

Consumers nationwide would have received an estimated $2 billion in rebates from health insurers if the new medical loss ratio (MLR) rule enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act had been in place in 2010, according to a new Commonwealth Fund analysis. The MLR rule, which went into effect in 2011, aims to control private insurance costs for consumers and government by requiring that a minimum percentage of premium dollars go toward medical care and health care quality improvement, as opposed to administrative costs and corporate profits.

Read the issue brief and use our interactive tool to find the estimated total rebate and annual rebate per person for each state.

Assessing Health Plans' Quality Improvement Activities

Under the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services must develop requirements for health plans to report on their quality improvement strategies, such as benefit or reimbursement models designed to improve health outcomes, prevent hospital readmissions, ensure patient safety, and promote wellness activities. A new report examines existing approaches to assessing health plans' quality improvement activities and makes recommendations for federal health plan reporting requirements.

Patients Actively Engaged in Their Care Fare Better, International Survey Finds

Adults with complex health care needs who are engaged in their care—whether by self-managing their condition or participating in treatment decisions—report fewer medical errors, rate their care more highly, and hold more positive views of the health system, according to an analysis of findings from an 11-nation survey conducted by The Commonwealth Fund. But the level of patient engagement by providers across countries varies widely, according to the new study (Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, April/June 2012).

Commonwealth Fund Articles in the Literature

Recent Commonwealth Fund–supported studies examined:

Building Sustainable Health Care Systems

With support from The Commonwealth Fund, the Health Care Research Collaborative examined the efforts of eight health care systems to reduce their energy use and waste and make environmentally responsible purchasing decisions. These sustainability initiatives have produced financial gains for the health systems.

International Innovations

A new series of International Innovations profiles approaches to solving shared health system challenges. These include:

Explore Local Health System Performance

The Scorecard on Local Health System Performance, 2012, found that where people live in the U.S. has a significant impact on their health care experiences. Use our interactive tool to explore comparative data on local health system performance and identify priorities for improvement. You can also visit ChartCart to view or download the complete set of Local Scorecard charts.

2013–14 Australian–American Health Policy Fellowship Application Open

The Australian–American Health Policy Fellowship offers a unique opportunity for outstanding, mid-career U.S. professionals—academics, government officials, clinical leaders, decision-makers in managed care and other private health care organizations, and journalists—to spend up to 10 months in Australia conducting research and working with leading Australian health policy experts on issues relevant to both countries. 

The deadline for receipt of applications for the 2013–14 fellowship is August 15, 2012.

For a fellowship of 10 months, an award of up to $87,000 (AUD) will be provided, which includes round-trip airfare to Australia, a monthly stipend, and project-related travel. In addition, a supplemental allowance is provided to fellows accompanied by a partner and/or children (e.g., approximately $50,000 (AUD) for a partner and two children up to age 18) to cover airfare and living expenses.

For further information and to obtain an application, please see http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Fellowships.aspx. In addition, The Commonwealth Fund, in collaboration with the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation at the University of Technology, Sydney, and the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, is hosting a Web conference on the fellowship at 5:00 p.m., E.S.T., on Monday, April 23. To register for the Web conference, please go to: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/j01dh28kqs8g.