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Press Release

USofCare Releases Brief on How States Define and Standardize “Affordable” Health Care

Published On February 12, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Today, United States of Care (USofCare) released its latest brief, profiling state efforts to standardize definitions of affordable health care. Affordability transcends all Americans regardless of political affiliation, socioeconomic status or geography, but current policies don’t always reflect people’s experiences. USofCare’s brief highlights efforts in five states—Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont—to create affordability standards, including elements policymakers should consider when creating standardized definitions of affordability. 

“Our mission is to ensure every American has access to affordable, quality health care — to do that, we must first understand what affordable health care is,” said Liz Hagan, brief author and USofCare’s Senior Policy Manager. “The meaning of ‘affordable’ can vary state to state and from program to program and rarely considers all the health care costs that people can face. If we can agree on what affordable means, then policymakers will develop meaningful approaches that make coverage and care more affordable.” 

States are adopting innovative approaches like creating a consistent definition of affordable care, standards to inform and craft policy and ways to measure progress to ensure policymakers, providers and insurers provide care and coverage that is accessible and fair to all the people they serve; Colorado is a recent example, releasing draft regulations outlining their approach to create an affordability standard.

“There has been a misalignment between what the evidence shows about affordability and how policy has been created, and states are now beginning to respond by being more inclusive of the full costs consumers face when accessing health care,” said Lynn Quincy, Director of the nonprofit Healthcare Value Hub at Altarum. 

“Copayments, deductibles, and general health and well-being contribute to the affordability of healthcare, but Connecticut also has to contain the main driver of health spending—the underlying cost of care. We have a top-tier health system, but half of adults report healthcare affordability problems, so our first step was to establish a baseline for self-sufficiency in our state,” said Vicki Veltri, Executive Director of the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy. “These fundamentals are key to building a healthcare system that works for everyone. I thank United States of Care for this report and for bringing us together; it’s a great opportunity for progress.”

The efforts of these five states can serve as a model for other states looking to improve affordability. USofCare is committed to supporting state and federal policymakers and advocates in their efforts to make health care more affordable and accessible, including creating standards and definitions of affordability.