Oct 12, 2018

ACA premiums expected to drop for the first time

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Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

“Affordable Care Act premiums are going down” is a headline no one's ever seen before, so it’s no surprise the Trump administration is trying to take credit for the change.

Driving the news: The administration announced yesterday that premiums for a "benchmark" plan will drop by an average of 1.5% next year in the federally run ACA marketplaces — the first time that’s happened since it launched.

  • The fine print: This is the average premium for a 27-year-old single nonsmoker. Actual premiums will vary based on your age and where you live.

What they're saying: Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said premiums are lower because the Trump administration has approved several state reinsurance programs — and opened the door to cheaper options like short-term plans and association health plans.

Reality check: Reinsurance has almost certainly held premiums down. But short-term plans, like the nullification of the individual mandate, aren't contributing to lower ACA premiums. State regulators have said their premiums would be lower without those policy changes.

  • Insurers also priced a lot of those expensive policies into this year's premium hikes, which averaged out to a whopping 37%. Having those increases in the bank is part of the reason premiums can go down now.

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Cigna's big divestiture on its life and disability insurance business

Photo: Julia Rendleman/Getty Images for Eventive Marketing

Cigna finally pulled the trigger on selling its life and disability insurance business, netting $5.3 billion after taxes from New York Life.

The big picture: Health insurers have been divesting products that have less to do with actual medical care and instead combining with companies that sell drug benefits

Go deeperArrowDec 19, 2019

Health policy in 2020 will be made in the states

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With legislation in Congress likely to be blocked by partisan division and interest group opposition, much of the real action in health care this year will be in the states.

The big picture: States don’t have the money or purchasing power the federal government does, but their decisions nevertheless affect millions of people, and they could signal the future of federal reform.

Go deeperArrowJan 6, 2020

ER doctors' pay raises outpace other specialists

Data: Urban Institute; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Emergency doctors — which are at the center of the surprise billing debate — saw their compensation go up more than any other physician specialty between 2013 and 2017.

Why it matters: This translates into higher health care costs, which we all pay for through our taxes, premiums and out-of-pocket spending.

Go deeperArrowJan 15, 2020