Oct 1, 2019

10 states to experiment with wellness programs in their ACA markets

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Wellness programs that reward people for exercising or stopping smoking are common in employer plans, and soon they will be an option in individual health plan marketplaces, the Trump administration said in a bulletin yesterday.

The big picture: 10 states will get to experiment with wellness programs in their Affordable Care Act markets, and they generally have to comply with federal rules for employer wellness programs.

  • That means, among other things, participants cannot receive a discount on their coverage of more than 30% of their premiums. Health insurers also must have "reasonable alternative standards" for sick or disabled people who can't do the program.

The bottom line: We've said this before, but we'll say it again. All reputable evidence has concluded wellness programs don't lower costs, don't improve people's health, and raise legal and privacy concerns.

Go deeper: Study shows a workplace wellness program didn't do much

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States working on ACA backup plans before federal court case decision

Pro-ACA protestors. Photo: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

States are beginning to make contingency plans in case the courts strike down the Affordable Care Act, WSJ reports.

Yes, but: There's only so much they can do.

Go deeperArrowOct 22, 2019

ACA premiums are going down as competition increases

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Premiums are going down and competition is going up as we head into the next Affordable Care Act enrollment period.

The big picture: Those are both good signs. But those metrics are improving, in part, because they got so much worse over the past several years.

Go deeperArrowOct 23, 2019

Judge blocks Trump admin plan to penalize immigrants likely to use public benefits

People recieve free assistance with U.S. citizenship applications in Boston on Sept. 28, 2019. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A federal judge on Friday blocked the Trump administration's proposed rule to deny residency to immigrants who use or are likely to use public benefit programs such as food stamps, housing assistance or Medicaid, the New York Times reports.

Driving the news: In a separate proposal last week, the Trump administration proposed requiring immigrant-visa applicants to prove they can obtain health insurance within 30 days of entering the U.S. or cover their own health care expenses.

Go deeperArrowOct 11, 2019