KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Portrait Of Newly Insured Takes Shape

Early enrollees in the health law's marketplaces were more likely to use expensive specialty drugs and less likely to use contraceptives, according to an analysis of two months of drug claims data by Express Scripts. A Rand analysis, meanwhile, argues that most of the newly insured signed up with an employer rather than buying it through the marketplaces.

Kaiser Health News: Early Drug Claims Suggest Exchange Plan Enrollees Are Sicker Than Average
Offering a first glimpse of the health care needs of Americans who bought coverage through federal and state marketplaces, an analysis of the first two months of claims data shows the new enrollees are more likely to use expensive specialty drugs to treat conditions like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C than those with job-based insurance (Appleby, 4/9). 

The New York Times: Study Looks At Earliest Health Law Enrollees
The health of those who enrolled in new coverage is being closely watched because many observers have questioned whether the new marketplaces would attract a large share of sick people, which could lead to higher premiums and ultimately doom the new law (Thomas, 4/9).

Los Angeles Times: Employer Insurance Increasing As Obamacare Rolls Out, Study Finds
In addition to gains in insurance coverage as a direct result of the Affordable Care Act, the number of Americans covered by employer-provided insurance also has increased in the last year, according to newly released data from the Rand Corp. As previously reported by my colleague Noam N. Levey, Rand estimated that the number of Americans with health insurance rose by about 9.3 million as of mid-March. The group’s researchers note that the number probably has increased as their survey missed much of the final surge of enrollments in the online marketplaces created by the healthcare law, also known as Obamacare (Lauter, 4/8).

NBC News: Nine Million Got New Health Insurance, Study Finds
More than 9 million Americans have gotten health insurance for the first time thanks to Obamacare, according to a new report from the Rand Corporation. Most of the people who got new insurance didn’t buy it on the Obamacare exchanges but rather signed up with an employer, the survey found. Rand says that 8.2 million people have gained insurance from an employer since September — more than 7 million of them who had no health insurance before (Fox, 4/8).

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Care Law, Economy Boost Ranks Of The Insured
Research released Tuesday shows 9.3 million Americans gained insurance coverage since the Affordable Care Act took full effect, though most who bought policies through newly established exchanges weren't uninsured and employers accounted for much of the rise in the newly covered. The figures from the nonpartisan research firm Rand Corp. are the latest findings to paint an emerging picture of the law's impact. This and other studies released recently suggest the 2010 law is meeting its goal of lowering the number of Americans without insurance (Corbett Dooren, 4/8).

Politico Pro: Health Law Could Have Ripple Effect On Other Insurance
Obamacare could make auto and workers’ compensation insurance cheaper but increase prices for medical malpractice insurance, a new RAND corporation study says. More Americans will have health coverage under the Affordable Care Act through expanded Medicaid or private coverage in the new marketplaces. And because a considerable amount of health care is paid for by liability insurers, the expanded access to health coverage could affect the way claims are filed for other types of insurance. Because patients have access to health coverage, they might become less likely to obtain treatment for health problems unrelated to an accident via other liability insurance (Cunningham, 4/9).

Also, a consumer advocacy group urges changes to make enrollment easier next time -

NPR: Lessons Learned For 2015 From This Year's Obamacare Sign-Ups
President Obama was thrilled last week when he was able to announce that more than 7 million people have signed up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. "This law is doing what it's supposed to do," the president said in the Rose Garden. "It's working." But that's not to say it couldn't work better. Among those suggesting ways to help is the consumer group Families USA. The group's got a list of 10 specific changes it says could improve outreach and make the overall process easier for people to navigate (Rovner, 4/9).

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