Year in review: 10 health policies for 2023 | KFF

Here’s a look at the 10 issues KFF has been closely monitoring this year and a summary of some of our key findings:

Health care costs are still a burden for many Americans: According to our data, employer-covered family insurance premiums rose 7 percent to nearly $24,000 this year, making them affordable for many workers at small employers. Our Dying Broke series focused on how older Americans struggle to pay for long-term care The health care affordability crisis continues to plague Americans and remains a major issue in the 2024 election. And at the same time anti-obesity drugs attracted much attention, coverage, costs and access are unclear. Over 100 million people in America 41% of adults have medical bills they can’t pay.

Access to the destination Abortion and birth control remained key issues for voters after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year. We tracked state abortion policies and lawsuits throughout the year, and also explored access to contraception across the United States. Our newsroom investigated how the issue is playing out nationally and in the states. Abortion also played a role in congressional discussions to reauthorize PEPFAR, the US signature program that provides HIV prevention and treatment services to millions of people, saving more than 25 million lives over 20 years.

Enrollment in Medicaid began to decline, and further declines were expected. Our annual survey of state Medicaid leaders found that states expect national Medicaid enrollment to decline by 8.6% in fiscal year 2024 as state Medicaid agencies continue to unwind pandemic-related continuous enrollment protections. As of December 13, more than 12 million people have been kicked out of Medicaid because of the relaxation. Some later regained coverage, so the net bill for enrollees is lower. Meanwhile, North Carolina just this month expanded its Medicaid programs to cover low-income adults, joining 39 other states and the District of Columbia.

Medicare drug price negotiations began, which were passed as part of last year’s anti-inflation law, but were subject to significant debate by the pharmaceutical industry. Medicare open enrollment ended on December 7, and we heard from Medicare beneficiaries about their views on marketing practices, finding options and coverage. Many retirees let their plans renew automatically.

Covid was still a thing but Americans began to worry less about the pandemic and their chances of getting sick, as our COVID-19 vaccine monitor showed. Interest in getting the latest boost declined, although most black and Hispanic adults expected to receive it, while most white adults did not. Also, after the end of the public health emergency declaration in May, finding and paying for the booster confused many and required a cheat sheet to figure it out.

Wrong information was still common in health concerns, and KFF found that at least four in 10 people say they’ve heard each of 10 specific false claims, but relatively few believe those claims are absolutely true. Most of it is simply uncertainty, creating a confusing middle ground that can be reached with reliable information from trusted sources like doctors and local television news.

Promoting health equality is still the main question of health policy experts and researchers. A new study by KFF found that six in 10 black adults, about half of American Indian and Alaska Native and Hispanic adults, and four in 10 Asian adults say they brace themselves for potential abuse from providers or staff and/or feel they have to be very careful about their appearance in order to be treated fairly at least some of the time during health care visits. KFF Health News also continued to report on how health outcomes vary by race and ethnicity.

Is everything old new again? And at the end of the year, we heard from former President Trump and Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) that they want to replace or change Affordable Care Act (ACA). KFF polls show that Americans broadly support the ACA, with more than twice as many Democratic voters (70%) as Republican voters (32%) saying it is a very important issue for the candidates to discuss. In addition, the ACA market has registered a record number this year. KFF Health News addressed the issues in its What the Health podcast episode and a roundup of related media coverage.

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