Narrow Networks Still A Trouble Spot For Health Law Plans, Experts Say

The need for up-to-date information on participating providers, more training for navigators and the release of 2015 premium costs are some of the issues that continue to draw headlines.  

Modern Healthcare: Exchanges Need Better Tech Or Better Info On Narrow Networks, Experts Say
Experts and consumer advocates have faulted the Obamacare insurance exchanges for not providing clear, accurate and up-to-date information to consumers about which providers are in the health plans offered on the exchanges. Experts say in the future, exchanges will have better technological tools to offer accurate provider information. But for now, they say, such tools don't exist and insurers have to do a better job themselves at making sure their lists are up to date (Tahir, 8/7).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Exchange Assisters Want More Training To Help Consumers — Even After They Enroll
With the Nov. 15 kick-off for this year’s health law enrollment season fast approaching, the need for more training for the people who help consumers navigate the health insurance marketplace is growing increasingly clear (Luthra, 8/7).

The Denver Post: Colorado Health Insurance Premiums Could See Slight Rise, Study Says
Colorado could see an average health insurance premium increase of 3.6 percent next year for plans under the Affordable Care Act, according to a preliminary analysis of 2015 individual market rate filings by a research group. The Health Research Institute of PricewaterhouseCoopers this week said the 2015 insurance landscape is beginning to emerge for the 27 states that have publicly released rate filings. The average rate increase from reporting states and the District of Columbia is 7.5 percent, with an average monthly premium before federal subsidies of $384 (Draper, 8/7).

Meanwhile, on the Medicaid expansion front -

The Idaho Statesman: Idaho Losing $3.3 Billion In Federal Medicaid Funds, Says Study
A new report says Idaho will lose $3.3 billion in federal Medicaid funds, and $1.5 billion for hospital reimbursement, over roughly the next decade by not expanding its Medicaid program to all poor adults. The report from the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, released Thursday, says Idaho's savings and new state revenues from a Medicaid expansion would the cost of implementing an expansion. Hospitals also would get reimbursed for newly eligible Medicaid patients who now lack insurance (8/7).

Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Sen. Johnson Urges Daugaard To Expand Medicaid
U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson appealed to South Dakota’s sense of right and wrong Thursday as he urged Gov. Dennis Daugaard to reconsider his opposition to expanding Medicaid under terms of federal law. “Expanding Medicaid is the moral thing to do, but it also makes economic sense,” Johnson said. “I continue to urge our state to work with the federal government to identify a path forward to expand Medicaid.” His comment brought a swift response from the governor’s office, where spokesman Tony Venhuizen said Johnson should buy into South Dakota’s proposal for resolving the issue (Jon Walker, 8/7).

In other news, exemptions to the health law's individual mandate continue to be examined -

The Fiscal Times: More Obamacare Exemptions Won’t Spike Premiums This Year
On Thursday, several news outlets highlighted a new government analysis that says the overwhelming majority of uninsured people are expected to qualify for exemptions under Obamacare—meaning they won’t have to pay a penalty if they forgo health coverage. The news stories raised concern that this could destabilize the insurance market and cause premiums to rise—since more exemptions means fewer people in the risk pool. But don’t freak out just yet (Ehley, 8/8).

CBS News: Obamacare Individual Mandate Isn’t So Much of a Mandate
One of the central planks of Obamacare was the individual mandate -- the requirement for every American to buy health insurance. Those who didn't would be required to pay a fine, ostensibly to cut down on free riders who'd refuse to pay for insurance and then stick taxpayers with the emergency room bill when they got sick. But thanks to a series of exemptions that have pushed wide swaths of Americans out of the reach of the individual mandate, almost 90 percent of uninsured Americans won't be forced to pay a fine in 2016, the Wall Street Journal reports (Miller, 8/7).

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.