North Carolina small businesses are facing increasing health insurance costs that are hindering their growth, reports Spectrum News 1. These revelations come from a Small Business for America’s Future survey of 109 small business owners in North Carolina. Each of the business owners had up to 500 employees, although the majority had 10 or fewer employees. According to the survey, 72 percent of respondents reported that they don’t provide employee health insurance because it is too expensive. Furthermore, 86 percent of small business owner respondents feel strongly that healthcare affordability for small business owners is an issue that lawmakers must address. According to survey authors, the key issue for these business owners is urgency around the issue – they want quick action from lawmakers.
Rhode Island is launching a new program to automatically enroll consumers determined ineligible for Medicaid into a qualified health plan on the state’s health insurance marketplace when the Public Health Emergency ends, according to NASHP. When the Medicaid continuous coverage requirement expires with the Public Health Emergency, Rhode Island will automatically enroll those who have incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level in the qualified health plans at the silver level. For residents with incomes up to 250 percent who actively select marketplace coverage, Rhode Island will ease coverage transitions by paying for two months of premiums for medical and/or dental coverage. The state hopes this will reduce unnecessary coverage gaps along with higher costs associated with churn.
The city of Toledo and Lucas County, Ohio, used $1.6 million in federal funds to forgive $200 million in medical debt for their residents, reports The Blade. The Toledo City Council and Lucas County Board of Commissioners partnered with RIP Medical Debt, a charity that buys and forgives medical debt across the country, to provide relief in the community where over 41,000 residents have medical debt. RIP Medical Debt has traditionally relied upon private donations; this is the first such time that city and county resources have been devoted to relieving medical debt through the nonprofit—providing a model for other communities.
About 20 percent of North Carolina residents have medical debt in collections, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, making it the state with the fourth-highest level of unpaid medical debt. According to data from the Urban Institute, the levels of medical debt correspond to poverty levels, with many of the most impoverished counties experiencing the highest levels of medical debt. Advocates hope that by expanding Medicaid in the state, they can reduce the incidence of debt, while others point to additional legislation targeted at shielding consumers from the worst aspects of having their debt in collections.
South Dakota voters have passed Medicaid expansion, according to NBC News. The expansion allows those earning up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level to receive Medicaid benefits under the Affordable Care Act, and will allow more than 40,000 people to gain access to the program, effective July 2024.
Arizona voters approved a proposition to lower the maximum interest rates on medical debt to 3 percent, reports AZ Central. The measure also limits wage garnishment and asset seizure by debt collectors for medical debt. This is the first time a statewide ballot measure has addressed medical debt.
South Dakota was rated the most expensive state for healthcare, according to Forbes. According to the report, per person South Dakota healthcare costs averaged $11,736 per year for services, such as hospital care, and the state had the sixth highest annual insurance premiums for those with individual plans on the marketplace, along with the third highest annual deductible for employer-provided insurance among those with single coverage.
Healthcare in Louisiana averaged $9,796 per person in 2020 in Louisiana, the second most expensive in the country, reports New Orleans City Business. The report details how Louisiana residents with employer-sponsored insurance have some of the highest premiums in the country, with single employees paying $1,740 per year. Louisiana had the fifth highest increase in overall healthcare spending per person between 2016 and 2020—with about a 23 percent increase
Six of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties are now classified as “maternal health deserts,” which presents concerns about maternal mortality rates for Black women, reports the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. These insights come from a March of Dimes, Nowhere to Go: Maternity Care Deserts Across the U.S. 2022 Report, which found that six counties had no hospitals providing obstetric care, no birth centers, no OB/GYN and no certified nurse midwives, affecting more than 105,000 women age 18-44. Notably, the state’s overall maternal mortality rate is 82 deaths per 100,000 live births, but the rate for Black residents is 163 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Advocates estimate that New York state could be overpaying by $1 billion for healthcare amid an increasing disparity in hospital costs, depending on where a person receives treatment, reports Spectrum News 1. As a result, some state lawmakers are working to find out just how much the state may be overpaying, due to the wildly fluctuating costs between hospitals and insurance plans. Specifically, lawmakers are asking for data to evaluate the cost of 1.2 million state workers enrolled in the New York State Health Insurance Program. The lawmakers addressed the Civil Service Department, trying to determine which hospital systems are overcharging for standard procedures.