Research Roundup: SNAP; HSAs; Medicaid and Billing
Each week, KHN compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs.
How Far Do SNAP Benefits Fall Short Of Covering The Cost Of A Meal?
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) aims to reduce hunger and food insecurity by supplementing the purchasing power of low-income families. This analysis explores the adequacy of SNAP benefits by comparing the maximum SNAP benefit per meal with the average cost of a low-cost meal in the U.S., adjusting for geographic variations in food prices across counties in the 48 contiguous states and Washington, DC. We find that average cost of a low-income meal is $2.36, 27 percent higher than the SNAP maximum benefit per meal of $1.86, which takes into account the maximum benefit available to households of varying sizes. The SNAP per meal benefit does not cover the cost of a low-income meal in 99 percent of US continental counties and the District of Columbia. (Waxman, Gundersen and Thompson, 2/21)
Employee Benefits Research Institute:
Has Enrollment In HSA-Eligible Health Plans Stalled?
Both the number of health savings accounts (HSAs) and enrollment in HSA-eligible health plans have grown significantly since HSAs first became available in 2004. In 2017, enrollment estimates in HSA-eligible health plans vary considerably from 21.4 million to 33.7 million policyholders and their dependents. But there is one consistency between the enrollment estimates – most sources show that growth appears to have slowed in 2017, especially when looking at the market share of HSA-eligible health plan enrollment. This Issue Brief examines trends in enrollment in HSA-eligible health plans. It compares surveys of individuals, employers, and health plans. (Paul Fronstin, 2/16)
The Kaiser Family Foundation:
Snapshots Of Recent State Initiatives In Medicaid Prescription Drug Cost Control
The high cost of specialty drugs and certain classes of drugs, the rapid rise in generic drug prices from some manufacturers in 2015, and the price hikes of Mylan’s EpiPen in 2016, fueled concern among policymakers and the public about rising drug costs. However, reflecting system-wide trends, Medicaid drug spending growth slowed in 2016, though recent rates of prescription drug spending growth in Medicaid are still higher than other payers. Although drug spending constitutes only 6% of Medicaid total spending, the high cost of specialty drugs continues to be a concern among Medicaid policy directors looking to control future spending. (Young and Garfield, 2/21)
Costs Associated With Physician Billing And Insurance-Related Activities
In a time-driven activity-based costing study in a large academic health care system with a certified electronic health record system, the estimated costs of billing and insurance-related activities ranged from $20 for a primary care visit to $215 for an inpatient surgical procedure. Knowledge of how specific billing and insurance-related activities contribute to administrative costs may help inform policy solutions to reduce these expenses. (Tseng, Kaplan, Richman et al, 2/20)