The Evolving Coverage Landscape for Small Businesses: Opportunities and Challenges

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created new health insurance marketplaces for small businesses, known as Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) marketplaces, and made substantial changes to the regulation of health insurance for small businesses. For purposes of health insurance regulation, small businesses have traditionally been defined by states as businesses with up to 50 employees. The ACA defined the small group market as employers with 1-100 employees, while allowing states to limit small group participation to employers with 50 or fewer workers from 2014 through 2016. Every state chose to do so, but, for plan years beginning in 2016, the definition of small business is set to expand to include those with 100 or fewer employees—with potentially significant consequences for the small group health insurance market and the SHOP marketplaces.

Reporter Briefing: Small Business Health Coverage Changes in 2016- Opportunities and Challenge

Join us for a special breakfast for reporters to address major changes set to take place for small businesses and health coverage in 2016, and proposals to delay or reconsider those changes. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created new health insurance marketplaces for small businesses, known as Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) marketplaces, and made substantial changes to the regulation of health insurance for small businesses. For plan years beginning in 2016, the definition of a small business is set to expand from up to 50 employees to up to 100 employees—with potentially significant consequences for the small group health insurance market and the SHOP marketplaces.

King v. Burwell: The Facts and Implications

This briefing told you what you need to know about a major Supreme Court challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Court is expected to make a decision in June, and a ruling for the King petitioners could mean that individuals will no longer be able to receive subsidies to purchase health insurance through the federal marketplace. The federal government is operating insurance marketplaces in more than 30 states. Currently, subsidies to buy health insurance are available to individuals with incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (i.e., those with annual incomes between $11,770 and $47,080).

ACA 101: What You Need to Know

This session was especially helpful to congressional staff members new to the issue, but is also a useful review for anyone dealing with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The briefing took place just as the second marketplace enrollment period ended and the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case challenging the law’s subsidies.

ACA Enrollment Round II: Do Consumers Have the Help they Need?

The Affordable Care Act’s second open enrollment period runs through mid February, and millions of people are already looking for help to find the best insurance fit. While many who signed up last year are expected to shop around for different health plans, millions more may become first time buyers. This briefing will explore the availability and usefulness of in-person assistance programs (navigators, assisters and brokers) that are intended to help individuals search and apply for coverage. After last year’s enrollment difficulties, we will look at the challenges of this second round, with a particular focus on the help available to consumers.

Health Insurance Marketplaces, Round II: Results and Expectations

One day after this briefing, on November 15, the second open enrollment period begins for health plans sold in federal and state marketplaces. More than 7 million people who bought insurance for 2014 can shop around for new plans or stay where they are. Those who received federal subsidies will face a redetermination process to assess their current income and other eligibility factors. Experts estimate there may be millions of new enrollees.

Reporter Briefing: What’s Next for Obamacare?

The Association of Health Care Journalists’ Washington, DC Chapter and the Alliance for Health reform invite you to a discussion about how journalists can get ready for Round 2 of marketplace enrollment and uncover the next big issues related to the Affordable Care Act.

Navigating the Health Insurance Landscape: What’s Next For Navigators, In-Person Assisters and Brokers?

Approximately 10.6 million people were aided by more than 4,400 in-person assistance programs in searching and applying for coverage in the first six-month enrollment period. Brokers also played a role in helping consumers sign up for coverage. Some believe that in-person, enrollment assistance programs are key to future enrollment success, while others voice concerns about the training of those offering assistance, and the security of applicants’ personal information. Many questions arise about their effect on coverage moving forward and the funding required to support the programs.

Health Insurance Marketplaces in 2014: Behind the Numbers

With the first open enrollment period for health insurance marketplaces now completed, an estimated 8 million people have enrolled in new private health insurance plans, with millions more newly enrolled in Medicaid. This briefing will look behind the enrollment numbers to take a detailed look at the demographics of marketplace enrollees, initial consumer experiences with health plans and lessons for next year’s open enrollment period.

Rates of Change: Putting 2015 Insurance Premiums into Context

Health insurance premiums have been one of the most closely-watched features of the new health insurance marketplaces. In 2014, insurers set rates based on limited data about who would sign up for coverage. Round II of open enrollment is fast approaching, allowing little time to process the first year’s data and to prepare for tomorrow. For 2015, some analysts anticipate increases of 10 percent or less, while others forecast growth of 20 percent or more.

Health Centers at the Launch of the Coverage Expansion

The coverage expansion under the Affordable Care Act brings new pressures and opportunities for health centers, including the potential to serve newly-insured patients while continuing as a cornerstone of the primary care safety net for the uninsured. At the same time, health centers are in the midst of rapid transformation brought about in part by recent federal investments in health center capacity and delivery system improvements, even as they face uncertainty about future state and federal funding.

State Medicaid Expansion: The Third Way

To date, about half of states have moved forward with the Affordable Care Act’s optional Medicaid expansion. Now, additional states are pursuing an altogether different path that would allow them to use federal Medicaid funds to help low-income residents buy private coverage. Arkansas, Michigan and Iowa have already received federal Medicaid waivers and launched programs. Others are in various stages of drafting and negotiating. A few are considering block grants.

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the ACA Era

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) contains several provisions that address access to community based services for the 4.5 million people in the U.S. with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Many of these provisions are aimed at balancing the array of services between those offered in institutions and those in the community.

Health Insurance Marketplaces: The First 8 Weeks

Health insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, opened October 1, and while states have released some enrollment data, and much of the attention has been on the initial technical challenges, there has been less information about overall consumer experience.

The Employer Mandate of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act

The Toolkit, available here, details the ACA’s employer requirements and penalty. It also includes information about the delay in the mandate to 2015, and analysis about its impact on employer-based coverage. The Toolkit includes: key facts about the employer mandate; data about trends in employment-based health coverage; links to news articles and reports explaining and analyzing the issue; health care experts who understand the issue and its implications, along with contact info.

ABCs of the ACA – What You Need to Know

The Alliance for Health Reform answers key questions about the insurance marketplaces that opened for enrollment October 1 in this new FAQ, available here. The document also provides links to websites that go into detailed explanations of how the law and the exchanges work. Some links point directly to state marketplaces and other government resources.