Welcome to the Illinois Health Matters Blog

Welcome to the Illinois Health Matters Blog. Our blog discusses various topics around how health care reform is affecting the people of Illinois. We present a variety of different perspectives from health care experts, both from our state, and nationally. For more information please visit IllinoisHealthMatters.org.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Missing Link: Putting Health into Your Hands

The Affordable Care Act brought about the expansion of Erie Family Health Center, the only health clinic in Evanston and Skokie. Long after its opening in Evanston, Erie Family Health Center was under capacity and wanted to reach more people. In contrast, the Evanston and Skokie Health Departments conducted community surveys in 2013 and found that one of the most prevalent health issues identified by the community was access to healthcare.

Something needed to change in the way that people accessed the healthcare system and the way they were connected to information and care. Inequalities in the healthcare system limit the types of care and information for people of different backgrounds. Many people do not know how to access quality health information or where to go for their health-related needs.

A Community Collaboration Promoting Health

Students at Northwestern University are partnering with public institutions, community organizations and university departments to create student-run health resource centers at the Evanston and Skokie libraries. Called the Health Information Resource Centers Utilizing Libraries in Evanston and Skokie (HIRCULES) Health Hub, the initiative will work to promote health literacy, preventative care, awareness of community resources and understanding of the existing healthcare system. The program is powerful and unique; it empowers people to take ownership through guidance, linkage and education.

The HIRCULES Health Hub will provide the Evanston and Skokie community with a trusted central resource where they can be connected to educational materials to improve health literacy. The HIRCULES Health Hub desks will be staffed by Northwestern students trained as medical librarians at Evanston and Skokie Public Libraries. Students will gather resources and search for materials for library patrons. HIRCULES will also include a website with relevant health resources and databases that contain searchable information including frequently asked questions, health services available in Evanston and Skokie and a calendar of health-related community events.

Identifying Challenges, Creating Solutions

The HIRCULES Health Hub will feature monthly themes with digestible and accessible information. Developing these monthly themes has taught staff a great deal about the community and led to new solutions. For example, last summer staff created a Back to School theme and wanted to inform parents where they could obtain school supplies if they could not afford to buy them from a store. The organization that had previously provided this service had recently closed, and with two months until the start of the new school year, no one else was planning to provide supplies to any Evanston school districts. HIRCULES staff reached out to community organizations, Parent Teacher Associations and school district boards to find a point person who ran a program to fill the need for school supplies for low-income students. Because of HIRCULES, real needs of the community were identified and addressed.

Improving Knowledge and Health

Normalizing routine, preventative care is another important aspect of the project. HIRCULES staff will promote preventative care through education of how to utilize Federally Qualified Health Centers and medical homes. Most people are not aware of the implications of the Affordable Care Act, which promotes preventative care. This reduces costs and improves health outcomes over time. Emphasis on preventative care education is imperative in empowering people to utilize pre-acute and ambulatory points of access to health systems. The partnership between HIRCULES and Erie Family Health Center helps establish a healthy lifestyle through regular, preventative primary care checkups and referrals for more complex health services.

Information Hub for the Community

The final objective of HIRCULES is to guide people to health-related resources, simplifying their search for health and wellness and improving services in the existing, complex healthcare system. All available, health-related resources in the community are being compiled into a virtual database accessible online and through visiting the HIRCULES Health Hub. For example, if an expecting mother wants to know where she can access prenatal and postnatal care, HIRCULES staff can direct them to Family Focus. If a parent needs assistance enrolling his or her family in health insurance, they will be connected with a local health insurance navigator and resources from Get Covered Illinois.

These major health issues will take time to address and overcome. Programs like HIRCULES are a vital contribution to making positive changes and improving the health of Evanston and Skokie citizens.

Brittany Zelch & Emery Weinstein

Brittany and Emery are undergraduate students attending Northwestern University Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences who study global health. They helped found and remain involved in the HIRCULES Health Hub.
Blogger Tricks

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

ACA, Medicaid and Unintended Consequences for People with Disabilities

People with disabilities who are eligible for healthcare through Medicaid may experience painful gaps in coverage during transitions. There are groups of people with disabilities that are particularly vulnerable: those who need long-term care services, those who apply but are not yet found eligible for SSI in 209b states with expanded Medicaid and youth transitioning to the adult system.

Long-term care services and supports, such as personal assistance services or durable medical equipment, are critically important to some people with disabilities. Medicaid packages for people with blindness and disabilities, or AABD or SSI Related Medicaid, offer comprehensive coverage, including long-term care supports and services. For those who need them, these services are a lifeline to independence, living in the community and employment.  Either not affordable or available through the private insurance market, Medicaid has been the sole access point for people with disabilities who need long-term care services. The Adult ACA Medicaid group, or expansion group, is a Medicaid program that may or may not provide an individual with long-term care services in any given state.

209(b) Expansion States Facing Challenges with Transitions 

One key difference across states is the option to automatically provide SSI Related Medicaid to recipients of the federally-administered state supplementary payments though the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Ten states use at least one eligibility criterion that is more restrictive than the SSI program for Medicaid eligibility and are referred to as 209(b) states. This means that an individual in these states who applies and is found eligible for SSI must make a separate application for Medicaid coverage.

The following states are currently 209(b) states: Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Virginia. All but Missouri, Oklahoma and Virginia have expanded Medicaid eligibility through the ACA.

Limited Access to Long-Term Care and Providers in the ACA Adult Group

Because many SSI applications take longer to process than Medicaid applications, people with disabilities can frequently be found eligible for ACA Adult Medicaid while waiting for SSI eligibility to be approved. While this group of individuals who have been approved as ACA Adult Medicaid eligible has access to healthcare, they may not have access to long-term care services.

Once SSI eligibility is approved, however, the beneficiary is no longer eligible for the category of Medicaid (ACA Adult) they are currently receiving. When they are put into the correct category for coverage (SSI Related Medicaid), they are sometimes dropped from one health plan and put into another without their knowledge. The end result is a current Medicaid beneficiary who is denied or faces delayed access to long-term care services he or she should be receiving under SSI Related Medicaid, as well as potentially losing access to providers and being forced to reapply altogether.

In addition to the lack of access to needed long-term care services, people may also experience challenges related to accessing medical service providers. In some states, the integration of the ACA and managed care has vastly changed provider infrastructure, with managed care plans for SSI Related Medicaid offering different provider networks and services than ACA Adult Medicaid managed care plans.

Many individuals, especially those new to SSI Related Medicaid, will not be aware that they are in a different category until another action is taken, such applying for a Medicaid waiver service, attempting to contact their managed care plan or going to see their providers. Both of these issues can result from the timing of an individual’s Medicaid application and approval.

Youth with Disabilities Facing Challenges with Transitions

Youth with disabilities can also potentially face significant unintended consequences around access to appropriate healthcare coverage. Children with disabilities are found eligible for SSI due to a reduction in both Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living. This means a youth can be eligible for SSI under a broader context of criteria, like an inability to socialize or play with others.

Adult disability determinations, by contrast, are made based on a disabling condition that impacts employment—not only current employment, any employment in the country that may be available to someone with such impairments. These are vastly different criteria.

As a result, many children are found eligible and begin receiving childhood SSI and SSI Related Medicaid. However, when they turn 18, they are required to meet the adult disability guidelines in order to remain eligible. Many children fail to meet those adult requirements and their benefits are terminated. Of those that are found ineligible when they turn 18, a number are later found to be eligible in further review or appeal processes. Because Medicaid waiver programs are available only to individuals who are current Medicaid recipients, a child may have waited years to be eligible for Medicaid waivers, be found eligible, only later to be denied eligibility for adult disability—which results in losing benefits under SSI Related Medicaid and SSI eligibility. If, upon later application, the individual is once again found eligible for both adult SSI and SSI Related Medicaid, he or she must now go to the back of the waiting list for the same waiver services previously lost under a youth determination. This can result in years without necessary, critical services and care.

Experiences in the States

Health & Disability Advocates conducted a short, informal survey of seven 209(b) states that have expanded Medicaid to learn more about how states identify people who are in the “wrong” eligibility category and the processes states have in place to prevent this from happening. With six of the seven states responding to the survey, HDA found that:

Three of six respondents offer Medicaid provider packages that are different depending on whether you are in SSI Related Medicaid or ACA Related Medicaid.

Three of the six responding states offer some variety of waivers to individuals even if they are placed in ACA Related Medicaid.

None of the responding states have a formal process for coordinating information about individuals who transition eligibility from one service package to another.

Four of six states are unaware of whether individuals have been improperly placed in the wrong Medicaid eligibility package; the remaining 33% have implemented trainings, but know that individuals continue to get placed into the wrong eligibility group.

Five states (all but North Dakota) were not aware of specific alerts that notify the Medicaid beneficiary that their eligibility for one program has ended and another started.

Upon further contact, roughly half of the states were in the early stages of identifying the issue of individuals being inappropriately placed and noted a need to develop a process for re-engaging the beneficiary to get them connected to appropriate providers for maximized health.

Recommendations Going Forward

While states are currently uncertain about the scope and breadth of these issues, it is important to identify individuals who have fallen through the cracks and may experience a significant disruption in services and eligibility. At a minimum, requiring states to create an automated notification system for changes to eligibility would provide beneficiaries greater clarity and time to plan.  In North Dakota, for example, individuals receive a notice as they leave eligibility under one Medicaid group and become eligible for another. Notice of and clear information about the ramifications of the change is critical.

Another recommendation for states is to look at integration of its systems and data tracking of disability populations. Data exchanges between the state and federal systems, along with the differing eligibility criteria among various programs, should make tracking persons with disabilities a high priority for states. Minnesota, for example, is developing a new integrated system with the capacity to match data sets to a broader context of information, such as employment status. This will greatly enhance the ability of the state to make sure that people with serious health needs receive the proper services and have access to the supports they need for the greatest possible independence.

Joe Entwisle, MS, CLCP
Sr. Policy Analyst
Health & Disability Advocates

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Future of Enrollment in Illinois: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

When Get Covered America came to Illinois before the first open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act in 2013, there was a lot of work to be done. At that time 78% of the uninsured had not heard of the health insurance marketplace and were unaware of the new health coverage options or opportunities for financial help available to them for the first time. The initial awareness gap was daunting, but hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans stood to benefit from the marketplace and needed to know how the Affordable Care Act could help them.

Many Milestones Through Collaboration

Fortunately, there were a number of stakeholders like Health & Disability Advocates (HDA), the Campaign for Better Health Care (CBHC), Alivio Medical Center and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, among others, eager and ready for the challenge ahead. This commitment helped achieve many of the goals laid out in the beginning. After two successful open enrollment periods, nearly 350,000 Illinoisans have enrolled in health insurance through the marketplace, and hundreds of thousands more have received coverage through expanded Medicaid and CHIP. Working together towards the same mission, Get Covered America and its partner organizations increased awareness and provided enrollment resources for consumers across the state.

Stepping Back to Move Forward

Because of the great work that has happened on the ground in Illinois, Get Covered America will be stepping back with full confidence in capable partners like HDA, CBHC and many others—such as Family Guidance Centers and Ada S. McKinley—to continue this important work to make health care enrollment a permanent part of communities. It’s clear that the coalition of partners who have come together on this issue have made great strides over the past two years. As the insurance landscape changes and the number of uninsured Illinoisans continues to decrease, Get Covered America wants to make sure that resources are allocated in the smartest and most effective way.

While Get Covered America won’t have an active outreach presence on-the-ground in Illinois moving forward, the organization will continue to support partners in the state with cutting edge data, best practices, tools and resources. Get Covered America will refine and continue to offer digital tools like the Get Covered Connector while also introducing new programs, like  training and support for local partners and health insurance literacy resources for the newly insured.

The Enrollment Challenge Ahead

Just released by Get Covered America, the State of Enrollment Report takes a critical look at the lessons  learned and what still needs to be done to get Illinois covered. Using on-the-ground knowledge and data analysis, the report identified several key initiatives integral to maximizing the number of Illinoisans who enroll in coverage. This is a great resource for partners on the ground and the foundation for a sustainable coalition for years to come.

The Get Covered America team is thrilled at what has been accomplished in Illinois so far, but there’s still important work to be done. While more Illinoisans have health coverage than ever before, there are still too many who remain uninsured and need the facts about how the Affordable Care Act can help them and their families.  On-the-ground partners like CBHC, Family Guidance Centers and Alivio Medical Center will continue this work and make health care enrollment an institutional reality for years to come.  And Get Covered America  looks forward to supporting their efforts.

David Elin
National Fundraising Director
Enroll America

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Rauner's Budget is Bad Medicine for State's Health Services

The following post originally appeared on Crain's Chicago Business.

The much-anticipated “turnaround budget” from Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner feels more like a “look back,” parading out failed ideas from past years. Rauner says this budget "preserves services to the state's most vulnerable residents”—but a quick review suggests this is far from true. Instead, we see a budget that:

• Further decimates a fragile community mental health system
• Reduces access to lifesaving drugs for people living with HIV and prevention services for those at risk of HIV
• De-funds critical substance-abuse treatments
• Drastically reduces cost-effective breast and cervical cancer screening services
• Makes it harder, and in some cases impossible, for people with disabilities and seniors to get support to live at home
• Reduces funding for evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation services
• Eliminates Medicaid benefits for preventive health services, including adult dental care
• Eliminates health insurance for workers with disabilities, coverage unavailable in the private marketplace
• Slashes funding for hospitals serving Medicaid populations
• Eliminates funding for care coordination, originally designed to contain costs
• Secures Illinois' position near the bottom of states for per-enrollee Medicaid funding

It's ironic the governor calls these cuts “tough medicine,” when the proposed budget would deny any medicine and critical health care services to so many. We've been down this road before, and here's what we learned:

• Cuts of $113 million to mental health and addiction treatment services in fiscal years 2009-11 increased state costs by more than $18 million due to increased emergency room visits, hospitalizations and nursing home placements.
• Elimination of Medicaid coverage for adult dental services in 2012 caused spikes in emergency department visits for dental problems. In-patient ER treatment for dental problems averaged $6,498, nearly 10 times the cost of preventive care delivered in a dentist's office.
• Disinvesting in HIV prevention will lead to new infections, for which the Centers for Disease Control estimates lifetime treatment costs of $379,668 per case.
• For every dollar Illinois spends on providing tobacco cessation treatments, it has on average saved $1.29. Cutting funding for smoking cessation services will increase costs by up to $32.3 million annually in health care expenditures and workplace productivity losses.

As proposed, the Rauner budget is not only bad for our health, but it's bad for businesses, too, likely resulting in decreased productivity, loss of jobs and economic activity, and greater health care costs for employers. Some examples:

• The proposed child care “intake freeze” and increase in parent co-pays will lead to increased absenteeism as employees will take time off to care for children. Such absenteeism already is costing American businesses nearly $3 billion annually.
• Planned cuts to Illinois hospitals are expected to result not only in the loss of more than 12,500 jobs but $1.7 billion in economic activity.
• Cuts in funding for health care services, such as cancer screening, most certainly will increase the health care costs of Illinois businesses. One study of major employers found that patients with cancer cost five times as much to insure as patients without cancer ($16,000 versus $3,000 annually).

We urge the governor to listen to the critics of this budget and learn from Illinois' past experiences. We stand prepared to support him on this learning curve.

Barbara A. Otto
Health & Disability Advocates

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Illinois Cooperative Brings Competition, Lower Costs for Small Businesses

Taking Advantage of Land Of Lincoln Health

Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, or CO-OPs
for short, are a new health insurance option for small business owners. Created by the Affordable Care Act, CO-OPs are consumer-directed and required to engage members in plan oversight. Only insured members can vote for and run for a seat on the CO-OP’s Board of Directors.

What is a CO-OP?

The federal CO-OP program offers low-interest loans to eligible nonprofit groups to help set up and maintain these issuers. CO-OP loans are only made to private, nonprofit entities that demonstrate a high probability of financial viability. All CO-OPs receiving loans were selected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on a competitive basis based on external independent review by a multi-disciplinary team. As CO-OPs meet or exceed developmental milestones, funds are allowed to be incrementally drawn down.

Taking Advantage of a CO-OP'portunity

The Illinois small business community capitalized on the CO-OP option. Small businesses in Illinois had been confronting high health insurance costs that threatened their ability to offer employee coverage. Illinois was previously dominated by one major health insurance carrier, who in 2014 wrote over 90% of the public health insurance marketplace policies in state. This market dominance gave small business owners few options in terms of obtaining and providing their employees with affordable health insurance. With CO-OPs offering the promise of increasing competition and lower rates, small businesses and individuals formed a CO-OP owned by its members and operated by its advocates.

Small Business Have More Choice

CO-OPs are following through on that promise. The Illinois CO-OP has enrolled over 50,000 businesses in 2015. During the second open enrollment period, one of every four new enrollees to the 2015 public marketplace is choosing a CO-OP. This additional competition is fantastic news for small business owners and their employees.

And High-Quality Plans

The Illinois CO-OP has been able to roll out innovative and transparent plans that connect consumers with provider choices they know and trust, because of the CO-OP's close relationship with the medical community. A consumer’s commitment, as an individual or employee, to choose the provider on the front end and at the time of selecting insurance coverage motivates the provider to build a strong relationship with that consumer. As a consumer-focused company, The CO-OP's small business insurance offerings are also designed by individuals who are attuned to the unique needs of this community.

The Bottom Line

The majority of small business owners value and care about their employees. Moreover, healthy employees with access to quality medical care are happier, more motivated and productive. Stabilizing health insurance premiums for small businesses while at the same time enabling them to procure quality coverage for their employees is a true game-changer. Small businesses drive our economy. Providing them access to affordable health insurance will benefit not only the small business community, but the entire Illinois economy.

Elliot Richardson
Founder and CEO
Small Business Advocacy Council

Thursday, March 5, 2015

From Getting Insurance to Actually Using It

After the 2015 Open Enrollment Period 347,300 Illinoisans purchased plans through the marketplace, and 541,000 people have enrolled in Medicaid since its expansion in 2014. While connecting individuals to coverage is good news, the newly insured are often overwhelmed by having to navigate the overly complex healthcare system and understand the related insurance and medical jargon.  This confusion and lack of experience counteracts one of the healthcare reform law’s major goals: to reduce medical costs by increasing access to primary care. Obtaining coverage will not offset a lifetime of avoiding the doctor’s office and visiting the emergency room for primary care. The newly insured must learn how to find a doctor, fill a prescription and read a prescription label. Without that, they are subject to poor health outcomes and high costs. The newly insured must gain health literacy which can only happen through the combined efforts of consumers, communities, providers and governing bodies.

What is Health Literacy? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define health literacy as the degree to which an individual can obtain, process, communicate and understand health information and services. People with low health literacy are more likely to be uninsured. Similarly, uninsured individuals show lower health literacy scores compared to those receiving employer-based coverage.

So Why Does Low Health Literacy Matter? 

It is not altogether surprising that the uninsured and those with low health literacy are less likely to seek preventative care; more likely to experience poor health outcomes; and more likely to encounter higher medical costs. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 1 in 3 uninsured adults said they had a preventive visit with their physician in the previous year, and uninsured adults experienced higher mortality rates than the insured. An Institute of Medicine report found a similar pattern of healthcare use for those with low health literacy, stating this group was less likely to seek preventive care. Research also found that lower health literacy in Medicaid managed care settings is connected with higher mortality. This shows that the uninsured and people lacking health literacy interact with the healthcare system in similar ways: poorly. Using the healthcare system is something people must learn. Giving someone a computer does not mean they know how to type. In the same way, connecting a person with healthcare will not alter their level of health literacy.

Old Habits Die Hard. The newly insured will continue receiving care in ways most familiar to them, which can translate to using the emergency room for non-emergencies. According to the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, individuals who received Medicaid coverage increased their emergency room use by 40%. Asked to comment on the results, the state director of policy and programs for the National Association of Medicaid Directors alluded to the importance of promoting health literacy in the newly insured. She said, “this is not something that is unexpected” and “the key to getting inappropriate costs down for all patients is educating people about where they should go when it’s not an emergency.”

How to Address Health Literacy

Government Efforts
State initiatives, including an Illinois Emergency Room Diversion Grant are acknowledging the importance of patient education and using outreach to reduce ER use. In Illinois, hospital staff led outreach explaining the proper use of the ER and offered a 24-hour nurse triage line as an alternative. Meanwhile, Maine is targeting ER super-utilizers through community care teams that offer intensive case management including home visits and health coaching. Recognizing state efforts like that of Illinois and Maine, CMS listed patient education as a recommended component of programs targeting ER super-utilizers.

Health Professional Efforts
Beyond education on how to use their health insurance, health professionals can improve the usability of health services by reducing medical speak in patient interactions. Healthcare systems can also create plain-language pamphlets for patients to reference after leaving the doctor’s office. By speaking with patients in a relatable manner and sharing usable information, doctors better position healthcare consumers to adhere to medical recommendations.

Northwestern University’s Division of General Medicine and Geriatrics focuses on improving engagement between providers and patients and has developed plain-language materials that communicate complex health topics. For example, researchers created written information and videos available in Spanish and English that teach patients diabetes self-management. The modules use simple language and rely on pictures to communicate aspects of diabetes care, such as how the disease can impact a person’s eyes. By using these materials when interacting with diabetes patients, health professionals communicate vital aspects of care in an accessible manner, increasing the likelihood that patients adopt the healthy behaviors.

Community Health Literacy Efforts
The Be Covered Illinois campaign is promoting health literacy by generating easy-to-read written and online materials, creating short videos explaining critical concepts and utilizing community partnerships to expand the reach of their communications.  By producing written fact sheets on finding the right doctor and developing web content on using your coverage Be Covered empowers the newly insured with the knowledge to navigate health insurance and health care systems more effectively. Be Covered’s Dr. Lopez video series, presented in both English and Spanish, addresses health insurance topics, chronic disease, prevention and more. Be Covered broadens the reach of their education efforts by partnering with 82 organizations in Illinois, including Illinois Health Matters, that share information and materials with their own constituencies.  As part of that effort, Be Covered provides regular content for social media and shares copies of consumer friendly resources free of charge to partners.

Illinois Health Matters recognizes the importance of not only getting insurance but using insurance. The website features resources such as a Medical Cost Look Up, that allows consumers to estimate out-of-pocket costs for medical services and a resource on Immunizations and the ACA, outlining the vaccines children and adults can access for free because of healthcare reform. The website also has a tip sheet titled What to Know About Provider Networks, explaining steps consumers can take to avoid high medical costs associated with out-of-network care. These are just a few examples.

Illinois Health Matters is taking on the challenge of supporting a more health literate population, but we can’t do it alone. Join us. One great way to start: subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed and share the knowledge with your clients and coworkers. The healthcare community can achieve the vision of the Affordable Care Act, but only through the joint efforts of providers, policymakers and organizations supporting health literacy.

Bryce Marable MSW
Health Policy Analyst 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Staying Steady

Rates of employer-sponsored healthcare have not declined since the implementation of the ACA, according to Fredric Blavin, a Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center. These findings, published in the January 2015 issue of Health Affairs, are based on his analysis of the Health Reform Monitoring Survey. Researchers at the Urban Institute administered this survey to workers between June 2013 and September 2014, asking if they are/were employed and if they are/were offered employer-sponsored health coverage. Analysis of these national data, displayed in figure 1, suggests that rates have remained statistically constant. The pre-existing and new ACA economic incentives for workers to obtain coverage from employers remains strong; the feared erosion has not yet materialized.

Massachusetts An Early Example

Earlier studies on Massachusetts’ employer-sponsored insurance market support Blavin’s findings. Between fall 2006 and fall 2009, a period of time which included adoption of the state’s health reforms, the rate of employer-sponsored insurance increased by 3%.

ACA Provisions Prevented Downward Direction

Incentives in the healthcare law have restrained the predicted drop-off in employer coverage. Provisions, such as ongoing preferential tax treatment of premiums through payroll deductions and the mandate to provide coverage for businesses with 50 or more workers, have persuaded employers to continue offering plans.

But Small Firms Are Left Out

One notable result from this survey is the nagging imbalance between large firms and small firms offering coverage.  Although mechanisms like the small employer tax credit and the SHOP Marketplace are meant to close this gap, small businesses have not taken advantage. Outreach and education with small businesses represents a large opportunity for insurance coverage expansion.   Small employers need information to understand provisions of the ACA in order to provide health insurance options to this growing workforce.

Michele Thornton, MBA
Insurance and Benefits Consultant