Has the Affordable Care Act Affected Health Care Efficiency? by Russell Kashian, Nicholas Lovett, Yuhan Xue :: SSRN

September 15, 2018

We utilize health care input and output data to evaluate how state-level efficiency in health care has changed in the wake of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We use a Stochastic Frontier model to estimate annual measures of technical and cost efficiency before, and after, the implementation of the ACA. Results show that following the ACA, states’ technical efficiency improved and converged across states. However, cost efficiency declines suggest health outputs rose by a proportionally smaller margin than health care costs. Plausible explanations are a lack of substitutability between emergency care and preventive care, the presence of moral hazard in health care markets, and declining marginal returns to increased health care expenditures. The above pattern of results is repeated with greater magnitude for states that expanded Medicaid coverage. The results suggest the ACA represents a package of reforms that present a trade-off between technical and cost efficiency.

via Has the Affordable Care Act Affected Health Care Efficiency? by Russell Kashian, Nicholas Lovett, Yuhan Xue :: SSRN


The New Health Care Federalism on the Ground

June 5, 2018

This essay, part of a symposium investigating methods of empirically evaluating health policy, focuses on American health care federalism, the relationship between the federal and state governments in the realm of health care policy and regulation. We describe the results of a five year study of the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) from 2012-2017. Our study focused on two key pillars of the ACA, which happen to be its most state-centered — expansion of Medicaid and the implementation of health insurance exchanges — and sheds light on federalism in the modern era of nationally-enacted health laws that preserve key roles for state leadership. The full study is detailed in the Stanford Law Review; here, we offer a more accessible snapshot and highlight a key aspect of the research: interviews of approximately twenty high ranking former state and federal officials at the forefront of ACA implementation.

The interviews corroborate the study data and substantiate our conclusions about the defining characteristics of the ACA’s implementation from a federalism perspective. Specifically, we found that the ACA’s implementation process has been 1) dynamic; 2) pragmatic; 3) negotiated; and 4) and marked by intrastate politics. We observed waves of engagement and estrangement between states and the federal government, and state decisions to participate in the ACA’s programs have not been binary, in/out choices. Vertical and horizontal negotiation and copying have been near constants.

The findings also reveal theoretical and empirical challenges for quantitatively evaluating health care federalism. Does it exist? Is it successful? We found the traditional federalism attributes pop up in inconsistent ways under the ACA and emerge from virtually every structural arrangement of the law. We tried, for instance, to measure how “cooperative” the states were, only to find that concept meaningless. Some states attempted implementation but failed; other states rebelled by refusing to run their own programs at all. The federal government stepped in for both. Were such states equally “cooperative” or “autonomous”? The same challenges occurred for all of the classic federalism metrics. For example, we saw local experimentation emerge from every kind of governance structure under the ACA, including nationalist ones.

Our work leads us to a key question: Why choose federalism-oriented health reform models in the first place? In ACA implementation, it sometimes appeared that federalist arrangements did not aim to improve health outcomes but rather reflected “federalism for federalism’s sake”—federalism to advance political or constitutional values, such as reserving power to the states in the interest of sovereignty and balance of power — regardless of the effect on health care coverage, cost, quality, or other measures of health policy success. At other times, it seems federalism was intended as a means to an end — e.g., that state-led health policy is assumed to produce better health outcomes. In the end, we were able to conclude more assuredly that the ACA’s many structural arrangements served state power than that any particular one of those arrangements was more federalist or that any particular one produced better health policy. Clearly, we cannot evaluate federalism — whether it exists, whether it is working, whether it is worth defending — without knowing what it is for in the first place.

via The New Health Care Federalism on the Ground by Abbe R. Gluck, Nicole Huberfeld :: SSRN


Federal Efforts to Stabilize ACA Individual Markets through State Innovation

May 29, 2018

Prior to full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014, states had taken the leading role in regulating individual health insurance markets. The ACA’s regime of subsidies, penalties, and federal regulations made individual coverage more accessible to those with moderate incomes and those with preexisting medical conditions. Premiums for such coverage, however, doubled between 2013 and 2017, leading to turmoil in individual markets. Both Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sought to grant states more authority to stabilize their markets through a waiver process established by section 1332 of the ACA. These efforts fell short. Congress did not enact significant changes to the ACA, and few states obtained CMS approval for section 1332 waivers to stabilize their markets. This paper offers several recommendations for streamlining and improving that waiver process that would provide states with more tools to stabilize individual markets.

via Federal Efforts to Stabilize ACA Individual Markets through State Innovation by Doug Badger, Rea S Hederman :: SSRN


Stabilizing the ACA’s Individual Markets Why State Innovation is Key

May 9, 2018

Prior to full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014, states had taken the leading role in regulating individual health insurance markets. The ACA’s regime of subsidies, penalties, and federal regulations made individual coverage more accessible to those with moderate incomes and those with preexisting medical conditions. Premiums for such coverage, however, doubled between 2013 and 2017, leading to turmoil in individual markets. Both Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sought to grant states more authority to stabilize their markets through a waiver process established by section 1332 of the ACA. These efforts fell short. Congress did not enact significant changes to the ACA, and few states obtained CMS approval for section 1332 waivers to stabilize their markets. This paper offers several recommendations for streamlining and improving that waiver process that would provide states with more tools to stabilize individual markets.

via Stabilizing the ACA’s Individual Markets Why State Innovation is Key by Doug Badger :: SSRN


Tracking Section 1332 State Innovation Waivers

December 14, 2017

Through Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states may apply for innovation waivers to alter key ACA requirements in the individual and small group insurance markets. States can use the flexibility granted by 1332 waiver authority to shore up fragile insurance markets, address unique state insurance market issues, or experiment with alternative models of providing coverage to state residents. With Congressional efforts to repeal and replace the ACA on hold, attention will likely turn to 1332 waivers as states explore ways to address access and affordability issues in their individual and small group markets.

via Tracking Section 1332 State Innovation Waivers | The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation


Blue Cross to end “grandfathered” health insurance in NC | News & Observer

August 22, 2017

Thousands of North Carolina residents have been exempt from the Affordable Care Act and got to keep their old health insurance, paying significantly less for their coverage than those insured under the ACA.

But that’s about to come to an end for 50,000 customers of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. In 2018, they will have to switch to ACA plans, in some cases paying twice as much or more for health insurance.

Source: Blue Cross to end “grandfathered” health insurance in NC | News & Observer


Subsidizing Health Insurance for Low-Income Adults: Evidence from Massachusetts

June 22, 2017

Subsidizing Health Insurance for Low-Income Adults: Evidence from
Massachusetts. Amy Finkelstein, Nathaniel Hendren, Mark Shepard∗
April 2017.

Abstract: How much are low-income individuals willing to pay for health insurance, and what are the implications for insurance markets? Using administrative data from Massachusetts’ subsidized insurance exchange, we exploit discontinuities in the subsidy schedule to estimate willingness to pay and costs of insurance among low-income adults. As subsidies decline, insurance take-up falls rapidly, dropping about 25% for each $40 increase in monthly enrollee premiums. Marginal enrollees tend to be lower-cost, consistent with adverse selection into insurance. But across the entire distribution we can observe – approximately the bottom 70% of the willingness to pay distribution – enrollee willingness to pay is three to four times below own expected medical costs. As a result, we estimate that take-up will be highly incomplete even with generous subsidies: if enrollee premiums were 25% of insurers’ average costs, at most half of potential enrollees would buy insurance, and even premiums subsidized down to 10% of average costs would still leave at least 20% uninsured. We briefly consider explanations for this finding – which suggests an important role for uncompensated care for the uninsured – and explore normative implications for insurance subsidies for low-income individuals.

https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/hendren/files/commcare.pdf