Nearly half of Americans said that “much higher” price increases would be “a major problem” during upcoming health exchange enrollment, according to a bankrate.com survey. The Center’s Dylan Roby said increases should level out to 6 to 8 percent over time, far below the annual increases of 20 to 25 percent that were common before enactment of health reform.
The survey also said a quarter of those surveyed thought that enrollment “glitches” would be a problem during upcoming health exchange sign-ups. Roby said Californians may have a sunnier outlook because their exchanges operated more smoothly, but in other states where rollout was rockier “there’s probably less optimism.”
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California consumers will pay 4.2 percent more on average for their health premiums on the state exchange in 2015, according to a story in Modern Healthcare. Center Director Gerald Kominski predicted proposed increases would be modest, since people on the exchange were no sicker than the average population and health expenses haven’t accelerated.
In a related Kaiser Health News story, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said that rates for people who purchased policies without subsidies went up 22 to 88 percent between 2013 and 2014. He said insurers are temporarily keeping 2015 premiums low to see if voters reject Proposition 45, then may try to hike rates. (Proposition 45 would give Jones’s office the authority to reject excessive rate increases).
But Kominski said premiums were artificially low in 2013 because insurers excluded high-risk patients from the market and offered policies with “skinny benefits” that offered minimal coverage.
Read the stories: Modern Healthcare and Kaiser Health News
Open enrollment on the state health exchange starts Nov. 15. According to a KPCC report, a frequent complaint from consumers who enrolled the first year is that the “narrow networks” under healthcare reform excluded their doctor. The Center’s Shana Alex Charles said “it’s not guaranteed” that a new plan will include a certain doctor.
“That’s always something you want to do, when you switch insurance … is check if your doctor’s included,” Charles said.
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Six in 10 previously uninsured Californians gained coverage through the state health exchange, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey. If the numbers cited are correct, “the law is working even better than many of us anticipated,” Center Director Gerald Kominski said in a San Jose Mercury News story.
In the story, Kominski said that the survey excluded adults who previously had been insured but lost coverage since last summer, saying that the omission could overstate the “positive effects of the ACA by as much as 10 percent.”
Still, Kominski said in the story, it’s important to “not lose sight of the big picture, which is that even if it’s 50 percent, the ACA has had tremendous success in year one in California.”
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Problems navigating the health care system, stigma about treatment and language difficulties are among the barriers keeping young, insured children in California with mental health care needs from getting treatment, D. Imelda Padilla-Frausto said in a KPCC interview about a new Center study. The story was also appeared in California Healthline.
The study, which used California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) data from 2007 and 2009, found that although 90 percent of children with mental health needs had insurance, fewer than 30 percent received treatment. Padilla-Frausto said early treatment of mental health problems may help prevent more serious mental issues later in life, the story said.
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State officials say technology fixes and administrative workarounds will slash the backlog of 600,000 Medi-Cal applications in half by the end of August, according to a Kaiser Health News story. But the Center’s Shana Charles said, “I don’t think this is necessarily going to be resolved within six weeks.”
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