• On April 13, 2015, Gallup released the results of a poll which shows that the uninsured rates among U.S. adults declined to 11.9% for the first quarter of 2015, down one percentage point from the previous quarter and 5.2 points since the end of 2013, just before the ACA went into effect. The uninsured rate is now the lowest since Gallup began tracking in 2008. While the uninsured rate has declined across all key demographic groups since the healthcare law fully took effect in January 2014, it has dropped most among lower-income Americans and Hispanics -- the groups most likely to lack insurance. The uninsured rate among Americans earning less than $36,000 in annual household income dropped 8.7 points since the end of 2013, while the rate among Hispanics fell 8.3 points.
  • On April 16, 2015, the Kaiser Family Foundation released the results of a study entitled “Coverage of Contraceptive Services: A Review of Health Insurance Plans in Five States”. With the passage of the ACA came the requirement that most private plans provide coverage for women’s preventive health care, including all prescribed FDA-approved contraceptive services and supplies, without cost-sharing. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) staff, with the Lewin Group, reviewed the insurance plan coverage policies for 12 prescribed contraceptive methods (excluding oral contraceptives). Information was collected from 20 different insurance carriers in five states (California, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, and Texas) about how they are applying reasonable medical management (RMM) techniques in their coverage of women’s contraceptive services. Interviews were conducted with plan officials for nine carriers and reviews of publicly available plan documents on contraceptive coverage policies were conducted for an additional 11 carriers. Results show that while most carriers are complying with the spirit of this requirement, there are exceptions, particularly for certain contraceptive methods such as intrauterine devices and emergency contraceptive pills.
  • This week IMS Health released a study entitled “Medicines Use and Spending Shifts: A Review of the Use of Medicines in the U.S. in 2014”. The results of the analysis show that spending on medicines increased 13.1% in 2014, the highest level since 2001 when spending growth reached 17.0%. Of note, the study reports that specialty medicines now account for one-third of spending, driven by a wave of recent innovations in treatment for autoimmune diseases, hepatitis C, and cancer. The report also finds that increasing numbers of launches and growth in spending on specialty products in 2014 were driven by growing R&D focus on specialty medicines over the past decade. In addition, Medicaid was the leading driver of retail prescription growth in the first year of expanded coverage under the ACA.