The Week in Healthcare — May 1

News last week focused on the Affordable Care Act coverage gap, the ACA’s impact on canceled plans, and stats on those seeking exemptions. Highlights include: CNN reported on the millions of people who fall into the ACA’s coverage gap – people who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but don’t make enough to get federal subsidies to buy insurance on the marketplace. Under the ACA, Medicaid was expanded to cover people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, but the Supreme Court gave states the ability to opt out, which 24 states did. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 5 million people nationwide fall in the gap. A study reported on by Politico said that millions of plans that were canceled because they did not meet ACA requirements likely would not have been continued by the policyholders anyway. Study author Benjamin Sommers wrote in Health Affairs that “the effects of the recent cancellations are not necessarily out of the norm.” Sommers said the data shows that individual coverage is transitional for most people because they often buy it while between jobs or when waiting for employer benefits to start. According to Newsmax, government statistics show that relatively few people have sought exemptions from the individual mandate to purchase insurance or pay a fine. Around 77,000 families and individuals have requested exemptions. More than 32,000 of those came from Native Americans, who are exempt because their healthcare is funded through the federal Indian Health Service.