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KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: Spooky Stuff

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Open enrollment starts Nov. 1 in most states for people who buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. For the second year in a row, premiums for these individual market plans are down slightly, even without the federal tax penalty for those who remain uncovered.

Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said she would develop a plan to pay for the “Medicare for All” proposal she supports.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Stephanie Armour of The Wall Street Journal, Mary Agnes Carey of Kaiser Health News and Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico.

As a special Halloween treat, Rovner and the panelists read the winner and finalists in KHN’s Halloween Health Haiku Contest.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • The market for insurance under the ACA has proved surprisingly resilient. Even with the individual mandate gone (in most states) and little government promotion, insurers are moving back into these exchanges and some people will find lower prices.
  • Still, efforts by the Trump administration to weaken the ACA mean that the individual insurance market is moving again toward a patchwork system in which consumers’ experience will vary by state.
  • Warren, the senator from Massachusetts, has been pressured by her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination to detail how she would pay for a Medicare for All government-funded health system. Those who oppose the single-payer system seek to signal to voters that they would be more fiscally responsible.
  • Senate Democrats forced a vote this week to keep the administration from awarding waivers that would allow states to circumvent some rules laid out in the ACA. Democrats said such state-level changes could lead again to people with certain medical conditions being denied coverage. But the initiative failed on a partisan vote.
  • A federal judge has blocked Alabama’s new abortion law, which is the most restrictive in the country. It bans abortion at any point in pregnancy and offers no exception for rape or incest. Although the law’s supporters hope to get it before the Supreme Court, it may take time to work its way through the judicial system.

Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read too:

Julie Rovner: Bloomberg News’ “Sheriffs’ Ads Slammed Drug Imports, and Big Pharma Helped Pay the Tab,” by Ben Elgin

Stephanie Armour: Kaiser Health News’ “Moved Overseas For School, Stayed For Insulin,” by Shefali Luthra

Mary Agnes Carey: The Harvard Business Review’s “The Role of Private Equity in Driving Up Health Care Prices,” by Lovisa Gustafsson, Shanoor Seervai and David Blumenthal

Alice Miranda Ollstein: The Washington Post’s “Trump Campaign Urges White House to Soften Proposed Flavored Vape Ban,” by Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Laurie McGinley and Neena Satija

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Related Topics

Cost and Quality Health Care Costs Insurance Multimedia The Health Law