Private Health Insurance

States are taking significant action to establish health insurance exchanges required under the Affordable Care Act.

That’s according to Steve Larsen, deputy administrator and director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who took part in a Dec. 6 webinar, “Health Exchanges: Understanding State Options and Deadlines,” sponsored by The Council of State Governments.

Consumers and health policy experts have all known about the differences in health insurance premiums across states. There have been plenty of anecdotal stories, but real data have been hard to come by.

Not now. A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found the state-by-state variation was substantial, ranging from a high of $400 per member per month in Vermont and Massachusetts to a low of $136 in Alabama. The data came directly from filings with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) by insurers.

The National Journal reports today that the Institute of Medicine has recommended that health insurers should pay for a range of services for women at no cost, including birth control, counseling on sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS screening.  

The IOM said free coverage of contraceptives would reduce unintended pregnancies. NPR reported today that half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended.

A new report from Milliman, Inc., a consulting and actuarial firm, shows total health care costs are $19,393 for the typical American family of four covered by a perferred provider organization. In 2002, the same family's overall costs were $9,235. These totals include the employer and employee shares of health care costs.

This Act prohibits carriers offering health plans in the state from denying coverage on the basis that the coverage is provided through telemedicine if the health care service would be covered were it provided through in-person consultation between the covered person and a health care provider. Coverage for health care services provided through telemedicine must be determined in a manner consistent with coverage for health care services provided through in-person consultation.

According to American Medical News, early indications are that relatively few employers are dropping mental health coverage as they go into open enrollment for the 2011 calendar year.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, passed in 2008 but fully in effect in 2011, requires companies that offer mental health benefits to restrict them no further than they do physical health coverage.

According to the 2010 Employer Health...

Jon Kingsdale will be the featured speaker in a session on health insurance exchanges on the first day of the 2010 CSG National Conference in Providence, RI, in December. Kingsdale is the former director of the Massachusetts Connector, created in 2006 and a model for the new health exchange requirement in federal health reform.

Washington, D.C., and 28 states opt to implement state plans to provide insurance for uninsured persons with pre-existing conditions; the other 22 states will use the federal option under federal health reform. reported today that Indiana University employees must "stop smoking and control risk factors such as weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels or face higher health insurance premiums" up to about $1900 per year.


On May 20, at the 2010 Economic Summit of the States, attendees heard a presentation by Marcia Nielson of the University of Kansas Medical Center on federal health care reform.

Dr. Nielsen is the Vice Chancellor for Public Policy & Planning, Associate Professor, at the Department of Health Policy and Management at the University of Kansas Medical Center.