Studies Providing Mixed News On Effects Of Health Law

Separate Rand and McKinsey studies examined how coverage will be affected by cost and accessibility of plans on the exchanges. Also, USA Today looked at the less-explored phenomenon of co-ops.

The Washington Post: Study: Allowing People To Stay In Existing Insurance Plans Unlikely To Disrupt Exchanges
Plans to allow people to keep their individual health insurance policies, even if they don’t meet the requirements of the health-care law, are unlikely to threaten the short-term viability of the new health insurance marketplace, according to a new Rand Corp. study. The study, released Tuesday, examines the impact of President Obama’s decision in November to allow consumers to keep their insurance plans, even if those plans don’t meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (Sun, 1/21).

Modern Healthcare: Continuing Bare-Bones Plans Won't Cause Insurance Exchange 'Death Spiral,' RAND Study Says
The most detrimental policy move would be to allow new enrollees into noncompliant plans, the study found. It would increase premiums for exchange plans by 10% and decrease enrollment by 3.2 million nationwide. ... The other moves, though, would have a “far smaller” impact, researchers said. ... Some insurance executives appear to be more concerned about the policy changes than others. Humana issued a financial filing warning that more members than it expected are choosing to stay with their current plans (Kutscher, 1/20).

The Wall Street Journal: Exchanges See Little Progress On Uninsured
Early signals suggest the majority of the 2.2 million people who sought to enroll in private insurance through new marketplaces through Dec. 28 were previously covered elsewhere, raising questions about how swiftly this part of the health overhaul will be able to make a significant dent in the number of uninsured. Insurers, brokers and consultants estimate at least two-thirds of those consumers previously bought their own coverage or were enrolled in employer-backed plans (Weaver and Mathews, 1/17).

Marketplace: Who's Enrolling For Health Insurance? Not The Uninsured
Citing a new survey from McKinsey & Co., the Wall St. Journal reports that ... 52 percent said plans were cost prohibitive. Many healthcare observers expect previously uninsured people to sign up for plans prior to the March 31st enrollment deadline. Even if they don’t, PricewaterhouseCoopers Ceci Connolly says insurers are well aware the new healthcare law is just beginning (Gorenstein, 1/20).

USA Today: Co-Ops The Underdog In Health Insurance Marketplace
Consumer-run health insurance cooperatives, which were included in the Affordable Care Act to stimulate competition and lower prices, have been stymied by the insurance industry and a lack of publicity, industry and health care experts say. The consumer-operated and run insurance companies, called co-ops, are often funded by government loans. Cooperatives can sell their policies through the state and federal health insurance exchanges where Americans can buy coverage (Kennedy, 1/19).

Meanwhile --

The Boston Globe: With Health Law, Less-Easy Access In N.H.
To keep premiums affordable, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Hampshire, the only insurer in the state offering coverage in the new insurance marketplace, radically reduced the hospitals in its network. Petro’s local provider did not make the cut. Petro’s case reflects how Obama’s health law has upset the previous balance in the insurance landscape. As new coverage begins this month, most policies sold through the insurance marketplaces offer some type of restricted hospital network in exchange for lower premiums (Jan, 1/20).

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.