KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Iowa’s Insurance Commissioner Says State Exchange Rates Should Be Lower Than Many Americans Experience

In Texas, cost and coverage questions are emerging as the launch date of federal exchanges approaches. Also, Trader Joe's is sending its part-timers to health exchanges.   

DesMoines Register: Iowa Health Exchange Prices Hold Up Well Against Other States
Iowans who buy health insurance on the government’s new online marketplace should see lower prices than many other Americans will face, the state insurance commissioner said Thursday. Commissioner Nick Gerhart, who is preparing to publish Iowa’s rates, said they will “compare very favorably” with those already released by other states (9/13).

Related, from KHN: State Premium Watch: Pricing In The New Insurance Marketplaces (Galewitz, 9/11)

The Texas Tribune/KUT: As Exchange Rollout Nears, Some Details Still Murky
As the debut of a federal health insurance exchange approaches, some Texans say they've been left with a number of key questions, like how much plans on the marketplace will cost and what they'll cover (Zaragovia, 9/13).

Bloomberg: Trader Joe's Sends Part-Timers To Obama Health Exchanges
Trader Joe’s Co., the closely held grocery store chain, will end health benefits for part-time workers next year, directing them instead to new insurance marketplaces as companies revamp medical coverage to fit the U.S. Affordable Care Act. Employees with fewer than 30 hours a week will no longer be given health coverage as of Jan. 1, and will receive $500 to help them buy insurance elsewhere, the Monrovia, California-based company said in a statement (Nussbaum, 9/13).

Here are highlights of other implementation issues drawing news coverage -

Modern Healthcare: Reports Say ACA Saves Consumers Billions, But Cuts Insurers’ Profits
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act saved consumers $1.7 billion on health insurance premiums last year, an HHS report found. Meanwhile, a separate study found that ACA provisions squeezed insurers' profits. The HHS report cites two provisions directly affecting health plan premiums—a rate review for premium increases that top 10% and the medical-loss ratio standard that caps how much of premium revenue insurers can use for administration, marketing and profits (Kutscher, 9/12).

The Washington Post's Wonk Blog: Obamacare Created 22 New Health Insurance Plans. Can They Succeed?
The Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, or Co-Ops, are a small part of the health care law that could have big implications for its success. Nonprofits in 24 states have received over $2 billion in federal loans to essentially start new health insurance products from scratch. And the health care observers I talk to think that these plans have the potential to upend the health insurance market -- or end up as the next Solyndra. Right now, it’s too early to tell which direction they'll go (Kliff, 9/12).

Related, earlier KHN story: Obamacare Insurance Co-ops At The Starting Gate (Hancock, 9/12)

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