Better Affordability and Greater Choice in the 2015 Federally Facilitated Marketplace

An HHS report found that 70% of individuals who return to the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) will find a lower premium plan in the same metal level than they had in 2014, before tax credits are applied. HHS noted that nearly 80% of FFM enrollees can buy coverage for $100 or less after tax credits are applied in 2015. The report also finds more consumer choice: over 25% more issuers are participating in the FFM this year, and 91% of consumers (up from 74%) are able to choose from 3 or more issuers.

1.5 Million Applicants in First Two Weeks of Open Enrollment Season

HHS' newly-released enrollment statistics indicate that during the first two weeks of open enrollment, 765,000 of the 1.5 million total applicants on have selected a health insurance plan. The applicants are roughly split between new and returning customers. The majority of plan selections occurred during the first week of open enrollment, when 300,000 of 500,000 applicants picked plans. Reflecting on the enrollment numbers, HHS Secretary Burwell said the marketplaces are "off to a solid start," but the administration will need many more sign ups to reach their projected 2015 enrollment figure of approximately 9 million enrollees, a figure that includes both renewing and new enrollees.

Support for CHIP Funding Extension Builds

At a meeting of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, Chairman Representative Joe Pitts (R) expressed support in his opening remarks for extending CHIP funding “in some fashion.” The Chairman also noted that in the future CHIP should “complement private health coverage” and “[target]…those who are most vulnerable.” Witnesses from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, among others, provided testimony on implications of not extending funding for CHIP; GAO estimated that if CHIP were eliminated, 1.9 million children may not qualify for Medicaid or for coverage in the Marketplace due to a parent having employer-sponsored coverage. This follows the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s release last week of letters from 39 state governors who expressed support for extending CHIP and outlined specific recommendations for program improvements.

Health Spending Growth Hits Lowest Rate Since 1960

National health spending grew 3.6% from 2012 to 2013, according to a report published in Health Affairs, which marked the lowest growth rate on record since 1960 according to the New York Times. The Obama Administration attributed the small net increase primarily to limits on Medicare payments to certain providers, cuts in federal spending from 2011, and the proliferation of high deductible private – all offset somewhat by increased state and Federal Medicaid spending. The figures did not include the effect of the ACA's Medicaid expansion, which began the year after the analysis was conducted.