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Finalized federal rule reduces total duration of short-term health plans to 4 months
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The Scoop: September 25, 2019 Edition

A round-up of recent state-level headlines regarding individual health insurance

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation Monday that eases reporting rules for adults facing Medicaid work requirements. | Image: Wikimedia Commons

Here’s a look at the latest state-level health insurance-related news.

Average individual-market premiums barely budging for 2020

As we get closer to open enrollment for 2020 health plans, an increasing number of states have finalized individual-market premiums. At ACASignups, Charles Gaba has spent months tracking average rate changes for next year, and his data now include final rates for more than a third of the states. At this point, the average rate change nationwide is looking like a 0.1 percent increase, which works out to about one dollar per month.

Short-term plans with longer duration now available in Arizona

A new Arizona law – allowing short-term health plans to follow federal guidelines – took effect at the end of August. This means short-term plans in Arizona can have initial terms of up to 364 days, and total duration, including renewals, of up to 36 months. As of mid-September, most of the short-term plans for sale in Arizona are still capped at six months, but there are a few plans available now with 364-day terms. Arizona is one of 18 states following federal guidelines for short-term plans.

Judge allows Florida Blue to require agents to be captive

Florida Blue is the dominant individual-market insurer in Florida, with more than a million enrollees. And the carrier requires its agents to sign exclusivity contracts, preventing them from selling any other insurers’ plans. Oscar entered the market in Orlando as of 2019, and promptly sued Florida Blue over this tactic. The U.S. Department of Justice sided with Oscar, but a Florida judge has dismissed the case, allowing Florida Blue to continue to prohibit agents from showing their clients any other insurers’ plans.

Indiana residents file suit to block Medicaid work requirement

Indiana is slowly phasing in a new work requirement for Medicaid expansion enrollees. The requirement is currently set at 20 hours per month, but will ramp up to 80 hours per month by next summer. This week, four Indiana residents filed a federal lawsuit to block the work requirement, so its future is uncertain. [In rulings that are being appealed, a federal judge has overturned Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Arkansas. But Indiana’s program is less draconian in terms of how coverage is terminated due to non-compliance and how soon it can be reinstated.]

Michigan enacts a law to make Medicaid work requirement reporting less onerous

Michigan’s Medicaid work requirement is slated to take effect in January. But new legislation was enacted this week in an effort to reduce the administrative burden and make it a little easier for enrollees to report their work activities to the state. However, lawmakers have rejected Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal to allocate $10 million to a public information campaign aimed at ensuring people understand the work requirement and are able to comply with it.

New Hampshire spent $187,000 trying to get people into compliance with Medicaid work requirement

New Hampshire’s Medicaid work requirement was scheduled to begin this summer, although its start date was delayed from June until September and a federal judge ultimately overturned the work requirement in July. Before the court’s ruling, New Hampshire spent $187,000 in efforts to reach out to Medicaid enrollees and help them come into compliance with the work requirement. But the state’s efforts fell far short, reaching only a small fraction of the people who would have been subject to the work requirement, and highlighting the challenges inherent in avoiding inadvertent coverage losses under Medicaid work requirements (to be clear, coverage losses tend to be a feature, not a bug, but they’re also the reason three states’ work requirements have been overturned).

Louise Norris is an individual health insurance broker who has been writing about health insurance and health reform since 2006. She has written dozens of opinions and educational pieces about the Affordable Care Act for

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