KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Health Law Plans Will Be Rated On Provider Network Size

New rules, scheduled for publication Tuesday, will allow insurers to sell health plans with narrow provider networks, but it will rate plans so that consumers know what they are getting. News outlets also report on how the health law is not erasing unpaid hospital expenses and, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, some states are giving physician assistants more autonomy.

The New York Times: Health Law Insurance Plans To Be Rated By Network Size
The Obama administration, responding to consumer complaints, says it will begin rating health insurance plans based on how many doctors and hospitals they include in their networks. At the same time, the maximum out-of-pocket costs for consumers under the Affordable Care Act will increase next year to $7,150 for an individual and $14,300 for a family, the administration said. Consumer advocates said those costs could be a significant burden for middle-income people who need a substantial amount of care. (Pear, 3/6)

Modern Healthcare: The Affordable Care Act Isn't Wiping Out Unpaid Hospital Bills
The promise of the Affordable Care Act for hospitals was that bad debt—a figure that reflects bills a hospital can't collect—would shrink substantially under the law's coverage expansions. The reality, so far, is less uniformly dramatic, even though 20 million fewer Americans are uninsured. Even in states that agreed to expand Medicaid, the popularity of high-deductible plans in those insurance exchanges has added to hospitals' mounting concerns over how patients can pay those bills, if at all. In Wyoming and other states that did not expand Medicaid, hospitals are seeing little relief from patients who can't pay their bills or need financial aid. (Evans, 3/5)

Forbes: States Remove Barriers To Physician Assistants
An increasing number of states are granting physician assistants more autonomy to increase access to patients amid a shortage of doctors and an influx of patients with health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. (Japsen, 3/6)

Also in the news, how the health law is playing this campaign season —

Modern Healthcare: Onslaught Of Pro-, Anti-Obamacare Spots Is Waiting In The Wings
Unlike the last few election cycles, paid political advertising that features healthcare issues hasn't played a starring role in the early primaries. But once the Democratic and Republican nominees are selected, watch out. The Affordable Care Act and other healthcare issues are going to get plenty of screen time, according to experts who track campaign advertising. (Meyer, 3/5)

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