Week in Washington: Changes in the Employer Market

Week in Washington is brought to you by Michael Cohen, PhD. Tune in each week to read the latest on healthcare policy and get a glimpse of what’s on the horizon.

Week in Washington: Changes in the Employer Market

A slow health policy week but a few odds and ends. 

ESI Data Released – Kaiser Family Foundation released the most comprehensive annual survey of employers on trends in employer-sponsored coverage for 2019. You can read the full report here but a few highlights:

  • The average annual premiums for ESI coverage was up 5% year over year.
  • On average workers paid $6,015 towards coverage.
  • For the first time total premiums for family coverage exceeded $20,000.
  • The average deductible is $1,655 for single coverage.

Prescription Drug Bill Stalled – Politico reported Senator Grassely’s drug pricing bill will be pushed to next year. The longer the delays the less the bill will eventually be enacted. The potential delay also just highlights the fact that legislators are admitting to the high levels of difficulty of passing any non-budget related legislation this year. 

MA Landscape Data Released – This week the Medicare landscape files for 2020 were released.  2020 looks to be another great year for Medicare Advantage:  23% decline in premiums and more plan choices. You can access the information here. 

Surprise BillingNew research was released this week on the effects of 2017 California state law on surprise billing.  California’s surprise billing law limited payments for out-of-network doctors (tied to the mean-in-network rate aka benchmarking). The research found that since the law took effect there has been little to no evidence that patient’s access to health care declined. In fact one piece of research saw that the number of providers that were in-network increased.  

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