KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Companies Find Ways To Keep Offering ‘No Frills’ Health Plans To Employees

The Wall Street Journal reports that, as long as companies offer at least one plan that complies with the health law's requirements, they are free to also offer employees choices that don't. Also in the news, Obama administration data analysts are watching health care habits and patterns, and other health companies are seeing business opportunities in sharing the information they collect, too.

The Wall Street Journal: Bare-Bones Health Plans Survive Through Quirk In Law
The health-care overhaul was supposed to eliminate insurance plans that offer skimpy coverage at cut rates. But a quirk in the law stands to help some companies keep them going for years to come. AlliedBarton Security Services … has offered a modestly updated version of its so-called mini-med plan to employees this year and it intends to do so in 2015 as well, even though the cheap coverage fails to meet requirements of the Affordable Care Act. What makes the no-frills plan attractive is that it will save money for AlliedBarton and for its security-guard employees who don't incur substantial medical bills, many of whom want a low-cost option, according to the company. What makes it possible under the health law: As long as companies offer at least one plan that complies with the law's requirements, they are free to keep offering ones that don't (Francis, 1/16).

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Obama Data Analysts Study Health-Care Habits Under Obamacare
A group of data analysts who helped President Barack Obama win two terms in the White House are now partnering with a coalition of health-care providers in Camden, N.J., to study how people’s consumption habits change under the new health law. BlueLabs, a company formed last year by members of the Obama data team, is partnering with the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers to compile information tracking the treatment patterns of people who enroll in Medicaid or the new insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act. For example, the team will gather data on how frequently the newly insured go emergency rooms or outpatient health centers and compare that with their previous behavior (O’Connor, 1/15).

Kaiser Health News: Check Your Blood Pressure, (Unwittingly) Sell Your Contact Information
Health insurance companies are on the prowl for more customers. There are still three months to go for people to enroll in health plans under the Affordable Care Act, but insurers don’t want to rely solely on state or federal websites to find them. Some are finding a path to new customers by partnering with companies that operate health-screening kiosks –- those machines in supermarkets and drug stores where people check their blood pressure or weight (Dembosky, 1/15). 

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