September 15 – September 21, 2015

U.S. Census: 8.8 Million Americans Gain Coverage From 2013 to 2014: Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released annual survey results on 2014 health insurance coverage from the Current Population Survey (CPS) and the American Community Survey (ACS). The CPS found that the national uninsured rate fell 2.9 percentage points to 10.4 percent in 2014, the first year of the Affordable Care Act’s health coverage expansion. This is largest one-year decline in the uninsured rate on record and represents 8.8 million fewer uninsured American. According to the ACS, the uninsured rate fell furthest in states that had expanded Medicaid by January 2014, with expansion states having a 2014 uninsured rate of 9.8 percent and non-expansion states 13.5 percent. The Census Bureau also released local-level data for all communities with populations of 65,000 or more.

GAO Reports on SBM Enrollment Platforms: On September 16, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report on how state-based marketplaces (SBMs) have implemented, maintained, and improved their online enrollment platforms. The report highlights challenges SBMs experienced and lessons learned, and it recommends that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) clarify its oversight role.

CMS Releases FAQ on Employer Notices and Appeals for Shared Responsibility Payment: Large employers who do not offer affordable, adequate health coverage to their full-time employees may be subject to the shared responsibility payment if at least one full-time employee receives financial help through the marketplace. Starting in the spring of 2016, marketplaces will begin notifying employers whose employees have received financial help when purchasing coverage. On September 18, CMS posted an FAQ explaining how the federally facilitated marketplace will implement these employer notices and outlining an appeals process for employers.

SBM Updates:

  • District of Columbia: On September 15, the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking approved premium rates for the 2016 plan year, with an average increase of 4.3 percent.
  • Vermont: Vermont Health Connect released a new customer satisfaction and experience study. The study, conducted by the University of Massachusetts Center for Health Policy for Vermont Health Connect, found that newer enrollees were more likely to rate the marketplace highly and that the most commonly experienced problems related how the marketplace processed billing, applications, re-enrollments, and reporting changes.
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