KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Competition, Narrow Networks Key To Exchange Premiums

California Healthline reports that among the reasons for Covered California's lower-than-expected insurance rates are the inclusion of plans with narrow networks that exclude some of the state's best-known providers, while the Washington Post wonders how competition can work in New Hampshire's online marketplace where only one plan may sell policies.

California Healthline: Low Costs And Narrow Networks: Inside Covered California
Covered California's list of participating health care providers and insurers is out, and it's possibly more notable for who isn't partaking in the state's new health insurance exchange rather than for who is. The reasons for the big-name absences are manifold, ranging from payer strategy to high hospital prices to even accusations of gamesmanship. And they help explain the caution that -- despite news that premiums will be far lower than expected -- the exchange transition may be bumpier than some early, optimistic reports suggest (Diamond, 5/29).

CQ HealthBeat: Exchange Rates: Feel-Good Story For The White House – Or Not So Rosy?
Buoyed by last week's news that premiums in California’s insurance exchange will be lower than expected, health care law supporters are seizing on the story line that predictions of rate shock under the overhaul are not coming true. While word on the premiums insurers plan to charge on the federal exchange that will serve Georgia residents ties in with that story line, the proposed rate increases for the Rhode Island marketplace suggest that premiums charged by insurers under the health care law may be a mixed bag (Reichard, 5/29).

The Washington Post: Trouble For Obamacare In New Hampshire
If a health insurance marketplace launches in the woods with exactly one insurance carrier, does it count as a marketplace at all? This is not an odd health policy riddle (although that sounds fun as well!). It is actually the situation in New Hampshire, where its increasingly looking like just one health insurer, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, will compete on the exchange – if that counts as competing at all (Kliff, 5/29).

Bloomberg: Obamacare Competition Has Roots In Economist's Passion
Millions of Americans will take advantage of economist Leemore Dafny’s research on competition when they enroll in a new system this fall to buy health insurance. Colleagues say Dafny’s examination of health-insurance markets has helped mold the state and federal exchanges that are central to President Barack Obama’s 2010 health-care law, which allows qualified individuals and small businesses to purchase coverage (Smialek, 5/30).

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