The Scoop: Health Insurance News – August 12, 2021 Edition

Maryland extends COVID-19 registration window to December 15

Maryland Well being Connection, like many other state-run exchanges in the spring, opened an enrollment period to deal with the COVID-19 epidemic. This allowed uninsured residents, regardless of whether they had a qualifying event, to enroll in health insurance. By mid-July when the enrollment window closed, more than 54,000 people had registered. Maryland Well being Connection announced last week that the enrollment period would be extended until December 15, 2018. This extension will allow uninsured people to enroll with immediate (and retroactive) coverage – even during open enrollment in the fall. Individuals who choose the traditional open enrollment period will have coverage by January 1, 2021. The COVID-19 special enrollment period allows uninsured Marylanders the option to enroll with almost immediate (and even retroactive) protection – even during open enrollment this fall.

New York, Vermont, California, Washington, DC, and other states are still undergoing COVID-19 specific enrollment periods, although Vermont’s will end on Friday, while New York’s will finish on Saturday, assuming there are no further extensions. HealthCare.gov is used by residents of 38 states. The federal government decided not to provide a COVID-19 specific enrollment period. Democrats have been protesting this decision for years and continue to urge the Trump administration into a rethink. Last week, 25 Democratic Senators sent a letter to President Trump, urging him to open a period of enrollment on HealthCare.gov, to allow uninsured residents to obtain health insurance for the remainder of 2020.

The majority of Pennsylvania’s medical insurers have suggested fee reductions for 2021.

Pennsylvania’s insurers in the individual market have proposed a 2.6 percent reduction to their weighted average fee for 2021. Pennsylvania’s newly approved reinsurance plan, which will take effect in 2021, would have likely resulted in a slight increase in 2020 rates. However, the reinsurance programme is keeping premiums under control.

Highmark Alternative Firm, one of many Highmark affiliates in Pennsylvania, is discontinuing its current plans (off-exchange and on-exchange). It will only offer a Bronze plan outside the exchange in 2021. Highmark Alternative Firm enrolls less than 1% of Pennsylvania’s individual market.

Kentucky’s private-market insurance companies suggest a fee increase of more than 11 percent for 2021.

Kentucky’s individual-market insurance companies have proposed a fee increase of 16,6 % & 5.3 %. The weighted average proposed fee increase amounts to approximately 11 %. This is a much higher increase than the national average so far. In 20 states where individual-market premium submission information has been made public, weighted-average increases in 2021 are 1.85 %. Only New York has a higher total average proposed rate increase than Kentucky.

North Carolina insurance market to be served by new insurers in 2021

According to the trend we are seeing in many states across the country, North Carolina will have some new insurers on the medical insurance market in 2021. Oscar will join the Asheville area’s alternate. UnitedHealthcare, which left the exchange at the end of 2016, will return. It appears that Sentara/Optima – currently offering individual-market coverage in Virginia – may also be a member of North Carolina’s 2021 alternate.

The proposed 2021 fee adjustments vary between Cigna and Ambetter. Cigna’s is a decrease of approximately 14 %, while Ambetter’s is a 6 % increase.

New Mexico CO-OP is closing at the end of 2020. This leaves only three CO-OPs left in U.S.

Only 4 of the original 23 CO-OPs created under the ACA remain operational, and this number will drop to just 3 by 2021. New Mexico Health Connections announced this week that they’ll be closing at the end of 2020. Their 14,000 members will have to select new coverage during the open enrollment period that starts November 1, 2020.

New Mexico’s Office of the Superintendent of Insurance has published FAQs regarding the CO-OP closing, explaining that members do not need to take any action now and can choose a new plan during open enrollment (November 1-December 15). If members who have their coverage through the New Mexico marketplace (HealthCare.gov), do not choose a new plan during open enrollment, they will be automatically enrolled into a similar plan with another insurer.

New Mexico Well being Connections proposed the largest share price increase in New Mexico’s individual market for 2021 earlier this summer. Three other insurers made modest changes to their fees. Two new insurers, Western Sky Neighborhood Care(Ambetter/Centene), and Friday Health Plans will join New Mexico’s alternative for 2021. Plans are available for purchase in November. New Mexico’s CO-OP will close, but the state now has 5 alternate insurers.

HHS approves New Hampshire reinsurance program

HHS approved New Hampshire’s 1332 waiver request for a reinsurance plan last week. The state anticipates that full-priced individual-market premiums will be 16 percent lower with the reinsurance plan than they would have otherwise been. It also projects that the complete enrollment in the individual market will increase by 6 percent with the program in place.

New Hampshire’s Reinsurance Program will be funded by a premium assessment on New Hampshire health insurers, as well as federal funding that is passed through. The federal government will spend less on subsidies due to the lower total premiums. New Hampshire can use the savings to fund its own reinsurance program.

HHS approved Pennsylvania’s proposal for reinsurance last month. New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, as of 2021 will join a dozen other states where active reinsurance programs are keeping individual-market medical insurance rates lower than they would be otherwise, and providing common stability to markets.

Nebraskans fill out nearly 2,700 forms in the first six days following Medicaid expansion.

Nebraska’s Medicaid expansion protection will take effect in October, nearly two years after the voters of Nebraska approved a Medicaid expansion poll measure. In the first six working days after enrollment began on August 1, 2,692 applications were submitted. Nebraska originally projected that 90,000.0 people would be eligible for coverage under Medicaid expansion. However, a Households USA analysis determined that an additional 33,000 people could be qualified because of widespread job losses due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Twenty lawyers oppose the tax deduction of healthcare bills shared by ministry.

The IRS proposed in June that healthcare sharing ministry and direct major care charges would be tax-deductible medical expenses for those who itemize deductions. Employers could reimburse these membership fees using well-being reimbursement plans. Attorneys common from 20 states, led by California Lawyer Common Xavier Becerra, sent a letter this week to the IRS expressing their opposition to the proposed rule. They also asked that it be withdrawn.

The attorneys general are aware that the proposed rule is likely to increase client confusion. It will be harder for people to understand that Healthcare Sharing Ministry Plans are not medical insurance, and should not be considered a sufficient substitute for primary medical coverage. They also point out that this rule will further segment the market with a growing number of healthy people choosing non-insurance coverage, while sick individuals remain in the ACA compliant market. The letter also states that the proposed rule goes beyond the IRS’s authority and is bigoted.


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