Open-Enrollment, Obamacare Seasons Bring Employer Health Coverage Changes

The New York Times examines trends in this year's insurance open-enrollment season while Politico looks at what coverage requirements employers can expect from the health law. In the meantime, insurers are wary of covering some intensive psychiatric care and employer health coverage choices move to private insurance exchanges.

The New York Times: Trends To Watch For In Employer Health Plans
A lot of attention has been given to the health insurance exchanges opening next month. But if you're like most Americans, you'll still get your insurance through an employer. And that means the annual open enrollment season, when you choose your benefits for the coming year, will soon be upon you. ... Here are some questions to consider this year (Carrns, 9/27).

Politico: How Obamacare Affects Businesses – Large And Small
When Congress was writing Obamacare, its biggest backers said the new law would help small businesses. Instead, they’re complaining about it. It was also supposed to take the cost pressure off businesses in general. Instead, they say it’s just adding more pressure. It’s one of the biggest political ironies of the health care law: Some of the loudest gripes are coming from the employers who were meant to benefit from it. But the reality is, from the smallest startups to the largest corporations, employers have a lot of new rules and reporting requirements to keep track of. And in some cases, there are new costs, too. It’s the only way to make the law work — but it’s also a headache for many employers (Nather, 9/30).

The New York Times: Lacking Rules, Insurers Balk at Paying For Intensive Psychiatric Care
Patients often find themselves at odds with health insurers, but the battles are perhaps nowhere so heated as with the treatment of serious mental illness. It was not supposed to be this way. A federal law, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, was aimed at avoiding fights like this over coverage by making sure insurers would cover mental illnesses just as they cover treatment for diseases like cancer or multiple sclerosis. ... But five years after President George W. Bush signed the law, there is widespread agreement that it has fallen short of its goal of creating parity for mental health coverage. As enrollment in coverage under the Affordable Care Act becomes available on Tuesday, the rules underlying mental health coverage in general -- for both private insurers and the new health care exchanges -- are still unclear, mental-health patient advocates say, leaving patients and families to grind through the process as best they can (Abelson, 9/28).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Employee Health Coverage Moves To Private Exchanges
If you work for a pretty big company, there’s a reasonable chance that sooner or later you’ll be choosing your health coverage and other benefits through a private exchange. It’s a growing trend in employee health insurance, and it has good and bad aspects for workers (Gallagher, 9/29).

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