A Selection Of Recent Studies And Surveys

The Urban Institute: "Capping The Tax Exclusion Of Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: Is Equity Feasible?"

"Some policymakers propose capping the amount of employer-sponsored insurance that is exempt from federal income and payroll taxes. If such a cap is based on employer premiums, inequities will result," based on an employer's size and geographic location as well as the health status and age of the employees, Steve Dorn, of the Urban Institute, writes in a paper that "explores a way to cap the tax exclusion that avoids these inequities." "If each plan is evaluated in terms of its actuarial value – that is, the expected claims cost of enrolling a nationally representative population in the plan – only one factor would determine taxation: namely, the generosity of covered benefits. As suggested by prior experience with other legislation, actuarial standards can be defined with enough specificity that a cap on the exclusion of health insurance will be clear and objective in its application." (6/2).

Kaiser Family Foundation: "Medicare Prescription Drug Plans in 2009 And Key Changes Since 2006"

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation on Thursday released a report based in part on "a series of Medicare Part D 2009 Data Spotlights documenting changes in drug coverage and costs since 2006." The report finds that while "Most PDPs [prescription drug plans] do not offer coverage in the coverage gap … those that do primarily cover generics" and "even then, they … cover fewer generics during the gap than in the initial coverage period." In contrast, Medicare Advantage drug plans "continue to offer coverage for at least a limited number of brand-name drugs in the gap." "The limited availability of coverage for brand-name drugs in the coverage gap puts Part D enrollees at risk of incurring substantial costs, an increasing concern as the size of the coverage gap increases each year (from $3,216 in 2008 to $3,454 in 2009)," the authors write, adding, "Among beneficiaries who reach the gap, one-fifth either stop taking one of their drugs or switch to another alternative in the drug class" (6/11).

Trust for America's Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Public Opinion Survey

Americans rank disease prevention above all other health reform proposals, including providing tax credits to small businesses to offset the cost of health care, prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions, according to the results of a recent public opinion survey released Tuesday by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "Overall, prevention was rated higher than all other proposals, including providing tax credits to small businesses and prohibiting health insurers from denying coverage based on health status." The poll – which was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies – "reflects the responses from 1,014 registered voters" (6/8).

The National Academy for State Health Policy and the Pew Center on the States: Children's Dental Health

In a May issue brief, findings were presented on ways to expand oral health care. conclusions were based on a literature review as well as a series of interviews with health experts. The authors write, "State examples and studies from around the world confirm that providers with a smaller scope of practice than dentists can efficiently and safely perform many components of dental care. States are working hard to gather data, build consensus, develop systems of care, and train and educate new types of providers who can join the dental team, supply basic primary dental care to underserved populations and expand the safety net" (5/09).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.