Jen Mishory of the Century Foundation, an expert in public insurance expansion proposals, said states should consider seeking waivers from the federal government to enact measures that can reduce premium costs, such as waivers that implement reinsurance.
The panelists discussed the importance of a common standard of affordability. "We need a standard to target to policies," said Liz Hagan of U.S. of Care. As an analogy, Janet Weiner of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics noted the value of the federal poverty measure; while far too low, it provides a benchmark for policymakers.
Veltri discussed Connecticut’s effort to create an affordability standard that reflects the many factors that affect a family’s ability to afford healthcare—not only income but family size, other financial obligations, and health status. Veltri emphasized the importance of data in informing the standard.
Weiner noted that affordability can also be seen in simple terms, such as any obstacle someone faces in getting the care they need. "There are horrible inequities in our system," she said. “Far too many with less than $400 in their bank account have a $1,500 deductible."
Experts also touched on other important ways to reduce costs, from expanding Medicaid to cost-sharing strategies. The Healthcare Value Hub provides an affordability framework that captures all strategies that states should consider when addressing affordability, from extending coverage and making cost sharing affordable to reducing low-value care and curbing excess prices.
A recording and written summary of the event along with studies cited by the panel will be posted shortly on the event website.
We are grateful to Joanne Kenen of Politico for her excellent moderating of the event and Andrea Ducas of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for her insightful introductory and closing remarks.