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Affordable Care Act

  • Nearly 12 Million People Enrolled in 2018 Health Coverage Under the ACA  Washington Post by Amy Goldstein A total of 11.8 million Americans signed up for Affordable Care Act health insurance for 2018, a drop of just 400,000 from the previous year despite widespread predictions that enrollment would plummet amid political and insurance industry turbulence surrounding the law. The final figures, released Tuesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, show that the proportion of first-time customers for this year dipped slightly, from 31 percent to 27 percent, while the high proportion qualifying for government subsidies that help consumers afford their insurance premiums stayed level at 83 percent. The enrollment total in the new federal report is identical to that from a compilation issued in February by an outside group, the National Academy for State Health Policy.

  • Premiums Shoot Up, but Many Are Paying Less for 'Obamacare'  Associated Press by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar Consumers getting financial assistance under former President Barack Obama's health care law will pay lower premiums this year, even though the "list price" for their health insurance shot up. That odd result is reflected in a report issued Tuesday by the Trump administration. After federal aid, the average monthly premium paid by subsidized customers on is dropping to $89 from last year's $106. That's a 16 percent savings even though the "list price" premium went up about 30 percent, now averaging $639 for those subsidized customers. The bottom line is counterintuitive, but it shows how "Obamacare" subsidies cushion consumers from rising premiums.

  • Ohio Seeks First-ever Individual Mandate Waiver  Modern Healthcare by Virgil Dickson Ohio officials asked the Trump Administration on Friday to formally waive the Affordable Care Act individual mandate that requires residents to have health insurance, making it the first state to make such a waiver request. Ohio's legislature called for the 1332 waiver last summer, and Congress zeroed out the financial penalty for not having coverage in its tax bill in December. "The [tax] legislation zeroed out the penalty that is associated with the individual mandate … but … did not eliminate the mandate itself," Ohio Department of Insurance Director Jillian Froment said in a March 30 letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "That is why Ohio is submitting an application to waive [the mandate]."

  • Iowa Tries Another End Run Around the Affordable Care Act  Washington Post by Amy Goldstein As a growing number of Republican-led states look for end runs around the Affordable Care Act, Iowa is embracing a strategy that contends that not all health plans are actually health insurance. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) on Monday signed into law a bill allowing the century-old Iowa Farm Bureau to collaborate with the state's dominant insurer to sell "health benefit plans," which are expected to cost health customers less than ACA coverage because they will not have to comply with federal requirements. The law says such plans "sponsored by a nonprofit agricultural organization . . . shall be deemed not to be insurance." That means they will be allowed to avoid both federal and state insurance regulations.

  • To Curb Rising Health Insurance Costs, Some States Try 'Reinsurance Pools' Stateline by Michael Ollove The Gopher State (Minn.) is one of four states trying to calm roiling health insurance markets by creating state reinsurance pools — even as actions by Congress and the Trump administration continue to create uncertainty in the health insurance industry. Maryland became the latest to do so when Republican Gov. Larry Hogan last week signed a bill creating a reinsurance pool financed in part in the next year by a $380 million tax on health insurers. Another six states are taking steps to launch their own reinsurance programs. Reinsurance has long had a place in the private insurance market.

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