KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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In California, Hearing On HealthNet-Centene Merger Triggers Tough Questions

Meanwhile, Centene also discloses that six hard drives with information belonging to about 950,000 members are "unaccounted for." Also in the news, Modern Healthcare reports on Marilyn Tavenner's view of how AHIP moves forward. And news outlets detail high-deductible health plans and limited coverage plans.

California Healthline: Health Insurers Grilled Over Merger
The wary and aggressive tenor of questions at a state hearing set a high bar for approval of the proposed $6.8 billion purchase of health insurance company HealthNet by Centene. The hearing Friday in the Capitol Building convened by the California Department of Insurance lasted six hours. It delved into the esoteric details of the large financial transaction and it also hit on some of the broader questions about what might happen to market competition and premium costs when health insurance companies consolidate. (Gorn, 1/25)

The Wall Street Journal: Centene Discloses Search For Hard Drives Containing Member Data
Health insurer Centene Corp. said on Monday that six hard drives containing sensitive information of about 950,000 members are “unaccounted for,” leading the company to launch an internal search. The Medicaid-focused insurer said that while it doesn’t believe this information has been used inappropriately, it is disclosing the search “out of abundance of caution.” (Minaya, 1/25)

Modern Healthcare: Q&A: Marilyn Tavenner On AHIP's Way Forward
Marilyn Tavenner was hired last year to take over leadership of America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry's leading advocacy group. Its members were struggling to get their bearings in the fledgling insurance marketplaces erected through the Affordable Care Act while Medicare Advantage and Medicaid managed-care programs were surging as business lines. Tavenner had recently left her post as administrator of the CMS, an agency intimately involved in those arenas. Now, Tavenner is faced with the task of coaxing two of the largest U.S. health insurers back to the fold. UnitedHealth Group, the largest health insurer in the nation, dropped out of AHIP just before she was hired, and Aetna quit this month. (1/23)

The Connecticut Mirror: How To Manage A High-Deductible Health Plan
For many Americans, the days of paying a $10 or $20 copay for a doctor visit and leaving the medical bills to their insurance companies are long gone. Instead, many are paying a larger share of their medical bills, often through deductibles that leave people to pay the full cost of care until they hit a certain dollar limit. And that means not just higher potential costs, but more to understand – from figuring out how much care costs to handling bills that aren’t always clear. What can people do to better manage their high-deductible plans? Here are some tips from experts. (Levin Becker, 1/26)

Kaiser Health News: Consumers Cut Costs By Combining Limited Coverage Health Plans, Despite Penalty Risks
Under the health law, most people are required to have insurance that meets minimum standards or pay a fine. Limited benefit policies such as short-term, critical illness, accident, dental and vision plans don’t qualify. In 2016, the penalty is $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greater. ... Faced with sky-high premiums and high deductibles for traditional plans, it’s not surprising that some people are looking at other options, experts say. (Andrews, 1/26)

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