KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Early Look At Premiums For Marketplace Plans Show Wide Variability

The price changes in 21 cities range from an increase of 49 percent to a decrease of 5 percent. Elsewhere, news outlets examine insurance companies' efforts to get lawmakers to drop the health law's tax on plans, some health organizations propose fixes for the law, Oscar's plans for Tennessee, Ambetter's decision to stay in the New Hampshire marketplace and other topics.

Modern Healthcare: Early 2018 Marketplace Rates Vary Widely Across States 
Health insurers selling individual plans next year on the federally operated marketplace,, have until Wednesday to finalize their rates. But early filings provide a good look at how the ACA marketplace is shaping up for 2018. Changes in benchmark silver plan premiums for 2018 range from an increase of 49% to a decrease of 5% from 2017 across 21 major U.S. cities where state regulators have published detailed information about insurers' preliminary rate requests, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis released Thursday. In about half of those cities, premiums would go up less than 15%. In two cities, premiums would either decrease or stay the same. (Livingston, 8/10)

The Fiscal Times: Taxpayers Will Pay The Price For Uncertainty Over Obamacare In 2018
With the open enrollment period approaching for Obamacare insurance plans sold through state exchanges, Kaiser Foundation experts were able to analyze the proposals for 2018 submitted by insurance companies to 20 states and the District of Columbia — the only places where enough information is made public to allow an assessment of what health care costs would look like for an average policyholder under the insurers’ requested rate structures. ...Because the majority of Americans obtain health insurance through an employer-sponsored plan or from federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid, the impact of the premium increases of exchange-based policies will mean little to a large element of the population. (Garver, 8/10)

Bloomberg: Health Insurers Face Long Odds To Win Reprieve Of Obamacare Tax 
Health insurers won a victory in 2015 when a tax that was part of the Affordable Care Act was suspended. Now as they fight to repeal or delay the tax again before it comes back into effect, the odds don’t seem to be in their favor. Insurers, businesses and conservative groups are scrambling for ways to at least delay the health-insurance tax, or HIT, following the collapse of health-care legislation in July. They seemed poised for victory just a few months ago, when the health-insurance fee, and most of the other levies enacted to help fund Obamacare, were targeted in repeal bills passed by House Republicans and considered by Senate Republicans. (Brody, 8/11)

The Hill: Health Groups Recommend Fixes To ObamaCare
A group of 14 health organizations is asking Congress to "strengthen" ObamaCare instead of repealing it. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) led by the American Heart Association, the organizations recommend five ways to stabilize the individual insurance market and bring down premiums and other costs. (Hellmann, 8/10)

Nashville Tennessean: Don't Understand Health Care? You're Not Alone. It's The Industry's Fault — Not Yours
There's a growing but small subset of companies geared toward translating and opening up the health care system to people who come from all walks of life and income and education. The proliferation of high deducible health plans, or consumer directed health plans, combined with the necessity of capping the rise of health care spending means the industry will have to change how it thinks about its processes, overhead and interactions with people. (Fletcher, 8/11)

Nashville Tennessean: Why Would Oscar Health Partner With Humana?
Oscar Health, the New York-based insurance startup that recently announced plans to sell individual plans in Nashville next year, sees an additional business opportunity in Middle Tennessee. The company has also announced a partnership with Humana to offer plans in Nashville’s small group market, creating an unusual partnership between what would otherwise be two competing insurers. The announcement demonstrates just how uncertain the health insurance market is right now — much of the traditional business models are changing, and new alliances and partnerships are being formed. (Tolbert, 8/10)

New Hampshire Union Leader: NH Healthy Families To Keep Ambetter Plan On Obamacare Exchange 
Gov. Chris Sununu has been pushing the three remaining health insurance companies on the Obamacare exchange in New Hampshire to indicate their intentions for 2018, and one of the three has confirmed that it will offer policies on when open enrollment begins in November. NH Healthy Families announced on Thursday its decision to continue offering its health insurance marketplace product, Ambetter, in New Hampshire for 2018. (Solomon, 8/10)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.