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What Is Your State Doing to Affect Access to Adequate Health Insurance?

Alabama

Select a state on the map and an action above to learn what the individual insurance market stabilization strategies states may be pursuing.

Source: J. Giovannelli, K. Lucia, and S. Corlette, "To Understand How Consumers Are Faring in the Individual Health Insurance Markets, Watch the States," To the Point (blog), Commonwealth Fund, July 18, 2018.

Notes: Section 1332 of the ACA authorizes states to apply to waive specified provisions of the health law to facilitate state-specific programs for improving coverage. If a state's "innovation waiver" program is forecast to reduce federal spending, the state is entitled to have these savings passed through to it for purposes of implementing the program. The states identified in this table have secured, or are seeking, approval for innovation waivers that use these federal "pass-through" funds to partially finance the state's reinsurance program.

*Program funding and projected premium effects data are estimates and come from the states' Section 1332 waiver applications.

**For states with an approved waiver for which pass-through funding levels have been announced by the federal government, the federal share of program funding equals the federal pass-through funding for the year identified, as calculated by the federal government, divided by the total program funding, as estimated in the state's waiver application. For these states, the state share of funding equals the difference of total program funding and federal funding. For states with a pending waiver application, or with an approved application for which pass-through funding levels have not yet been announced, the respective funding shares are derived from information provided in the state's waiver application.

***State reinsurance programs typically are designed following one of two broad models. A "condition-specific" reinsurance program covers some or all of an insurer's claims costs that have been incurred by enrollees diagnosed with one more specified high-cost health conditions. An "attachment point" reinsurance program covers some or all of an insurer's claims costs that exceed a specified threshold, or attachment point, regardless of the type of claim.

Source: J. Giovannelli, K. Lucia, and S. Corlette, "To Understand How Consumers Are Faring in the Individual Health Insurance Markets, Watch the States," To the Point (blog), Commonwealth Fund, July 18, 2018.

Note: The ACA requires most individuals to maintain "minimum essential" health coverage or pay a tax penalty (the individual mandate). Recent changes in federal law, effective in 2019, reduce this tax penalty to $0, but do not repeal the underlying requirement to maintain coverage. This graphic identifies states that require residents to maintain adequate health coverage -- whether or not the state imposes a penalty on individuals who fail to do so -- notwithstanding the elimination of the federal tax penalty.

Source: J. Giovannelli, K. Lucia, and S. Corlette, "To Understand How Consumers Are Faring in the Individual Health Insurance Markets, Watch the States," To the Point (blog), Commonwealth Fund, July 18, 2018.

Note: The ACA provides federal subsidies to reduce the cost of individual market health insurance for eligible individuals. Premium tax credits are available to otherwise eligible individuals with household income between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL) who enroll in coverage through an ACA marketplace, and cost-sharing subsidies are available to such individuals with incomes between 100% and 250% FPL who enroll in a silver tier plan. This graphic identifies states that make available separate, state-funded subsidies to defray the cost of ACA-compliant individual market health coverage: for example, an additional premium subsidy for individuals receiving federal premium tax credits, or a subsidy for individual market consumers whose incomes render them ineligible for federal coverage assistance.

Source: J. Giovannelli, K. Lucia, and S. Corlette, "To Understand How Consumers Are Faring in the Individual Health Insurance Markets, Watch the States," To the Point (blog), Commonwealth Fund, July 18, 2018.

Notes: Short-term policies are not subject to the federal consumer protections of the ACA. Under federal regulations finalized in August 2018, short-term policies may provide coverage for a period of 364 days and may be renewed, at the discretion of the insurance company, for up to 36 months. This table identifies states that, by limiting the maximum duration of short-term coverage to less than 364 days, or by applying state law consumer protections to such coverage, impose limitations on the sale of short-term plans than are more strict than those mandated under the default federal approach.

*These states prohibit short-term insurers from discriminating on the basis of an applicant's health status.

**A state is identified as having limited the initial contract duration of underwritten short-term coverage to less than 364 days if a short-term plan lasting longer than the specified duration would become subject to one or more of the following state consumer protections: guaranteed issue, guaranteed renewability, or required coverage of essential health benefits. Such states typically impose limitations on the renewal of short-term policies, but, in most cases, do not prohibit insurers from issuing multiple new short-term policies consecutively.

***A state is identified as having limited the total length of time a consumer may be enrolled in underwritten short-term coverage to less than 364 days if it prohibits the issuance of multiple short-term policies consecutively, closing a loophole that otherwise may permit continuous enrollment in such plans.

†Connecticut makes consecutive short-term policies subject to certain preexisting condition coverage requirements.

††Hawaii also prohibits the issuance of a short-term policy to an individual who was eligible to purchase coverage through the ACA marketplace during an open or special enrollment period in the previous calendar year.

†††California prohibits the issuance of any health insurance policy with a duration of less than 12 months.

Source: J. Giovannelli, K. Lucia, and S. Corlette, "To Understand How Consumers Are Faring in the Individual Health Insurance Markets, Watch the States," To the Point (blog), Commonwealth Fund, July 18, 2018.

Note: Federal regulations established a 45-day open enrollment period for 2018 coverage beginning on November 1, 2017 and ending on December 15, 2017. For 2019 coverage, the open enrollment window will again last 45 days, beginning on November 1, 2018 and ending on December 15, 2018. The 11 states (and the District of Columbia) that operate their own ACA marketplaces and use their own enrollment platforms have authority to modify the federally-specified enrollment dates, including by lengthening the duration of the sign-up period. By contrast, the 39 states that use Healthcare.gov for enrollment do not have such authority. This graphic identifies those states that extended the length of the 2018 open enrollment period beyond the 45-day federal default, or that plan to extend the duration of the 2019 enrollment period. While, as a formal matter, some of these states have provided for an extension by establishing a broadly available special enrollment period beginning on the day following the end of the federal default open enrollment window, the table identifies those states that, as a matter of practice, offer a continuous, broadly available enrollment period for next-year coverage than is longer than 45 days.

Source: J. Giovannelli, K. Lucia, and S. Corlette, "To Understand How Consumers Are Faring in the Individual Health Insurance Markets, Watch the States," To the Point (blog), Commonwealth Fund, July 18, 2018.

Note: This graphic identifies states that have adopted certain specific actions intended to promote a competitive ACA marketplace. In particular, only those states that: (1) have merged their individual and small-group markets; (2) require that all individual market coverage be sold through the ACA marketplace; or (3) leverage insurers’ participation in state public health insurance programs, such as Medicaid, or state insurance markets to encourage or require participation in the ACA marketplace. Other factors and state actions not identified here also may affect the competitiveness of a state's ACA marketplace.

Source: J. Giovannelli, K. Lucia, and S. Corlette, "To Understand How Consumers Are Faring in the Individual Health Insurance Markets, Watch the States," To the Point (blog), Commonwealth Fund, July 18, 2018.

Note: In states where transitional policies are allowed, insurers may choose whether to continue to offer such policies. In some states, transitional policies may no longer exist in the individual market, even though permitted under state law. Transitional policies are those that were issued following the ACA’s enactment in 2010 but before 2014. These policies, also known as “grandmothered plans,” are required to meet some, but not all, of the ACA’s individual market consumer protections.

Source: J. Giovannelli, K. Lucia, and S. Corlette, "To Understand How Consumers Are Faring in the Individual Health Insurance Markets, Watch the States," To the Point (blog), Commonwealth Fund, July 18, 2018.

* The table identifies states that have established rules exempting certain health coverage products from federal and state insurance regulation. These rules tend to encourage market segmentation and a deterioration of the ACA-compliant risk pool, thereby making comprehensive individual market coverage less affordable and accessible. States may have taken other actions that are likely to decrease access to affordable and adequate individual market coverage that are not identified in this table. For example, this table does not include state actions that may encourage the sale of, or broaden access to the following forms of coverage, which are not fully compliant with federal rules governing the individual market: short-term, limited duration insurance; association health plans that meet the definition of a large-group plan under federal law; transitional, or "grandmothered" health plans; or coverage arrangements offered by a health care sharing ministry.

Publication Details

Publication Date: October 15, 2018