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Affordable Care Act News

(Consumer Reports) We are now more than two-thirds of the way through the new health care law’s first annual open enrollment period. If you’re uninsured and haven’t signed up yet, you have until March 31 to get this done if you want to have health insurance in 2014. If you don’t, you’ll be uninsured until 2015, as you can’t buy health insurance in between open enrollment periods except in a few specific circumstances, mostly involving losing another source of coverage because of  “life events” such as a move, a job loss, or a divorce.
We hate to sound like a broken record, but it bears repeating that you should get insurance as soon as possible. Every day without insurance is a day you risk your health and pocketbook in the event of a serious illness or injury.
(Reuters) One of the latest Obamacare pitches to get young adults to sign up for health insurance starts out with a mother's kitchen note reminding her grown son to enroll… The government-sponsored television ad, which is airing on five national cable-TV channels, including ABC Family and TVLand, is part of an uphill battle to increase youth participation in President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy achievement. Youth participation in the program is a key factor in whether the program succeeds or fails in its first year.
(Kaiser Health News) News outlets offer a sampling of state-specific health plan enrollment numbers. Even Oregon, with its non-working exchange, signed up more than 33,000 people.
(USA Today) Many consumers who have waited months to resolve insurance application issues on HealthCare.gov are finally getting help, but some are still stuck in limbo without Medicaid or insurance coverage, and many of the site's most vexing problems remain, according to insurers, brokers and state Medicaid officials. Applications that take days, clueless customer service representatives and error-ridden or orphan files persist.
(Bloomberg) The day after Addie Wilson was quoted in a newspaper article complaining about her experience with President Barack Obama’s health-care law, her mobile phone rang while she was in the bathroom. It was an employee from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offering help… [T]he Obama administration is borrowing a corporate tactic and tracking down consumers who air their grievances in news reports or on social media. The goal: Get a case worker in touch within 24 hours to resolve the issue.
(Political Wire) A new Tampa Bay Times poll in Florida finds Alex Sink (D) leading David Jolly (R) in the FL-13 special congressional election, 42% to 35%. Interesting: "The poll also reveals how the Affordable Care Act has become a virtual litmus test for voters. Of those who support Sink, 81 percent also support Obamacare. Of those who support Jolly, 84 percent also oppose Obamacare."
Community: It’s a Republican district, too. So attacks on the Affordable Care Act may not bode so well for Republicans this year.
More . . .
Health-Law Backers Push Skimpier 'Copper' Insurance Policies
(Wall Street Journal) Some backers of the 2010 health-care law are pushing to create a new kind of insurance coverage that the measure essentially had ruled out: policies offering lower premiums but significantly higher out-of-pocket costs than those now available. The plans, dubbed "copper" because they would offer a lower level of coverage than the "gold," "silver" and "bronze" options on the government-run health-care exchanges, would be a departure from the minimum level of coverage that is one of the Affordable Care Act's core principles.
(Kaiser Health News) Areas that offer the least expensive exchange premiums are marked by robust competition, salaried doctors and health systems that organize care.
(The Atlantic) Private insurance is now required to cover birth control free of charge. And health insurers can no longer discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions by charging them extra. Such "conditions," in extreme cases in the past, have included pregnancy and being the victim of spousal abuse. But there are other, hidden ways women benefit from Obamacare.
(Kaiser Health News) Cheaper deals may be available on the state exchanges, but consumers don’t have to ditch their COBRA plans.
(Kaiser Health News) In Philadelphia and across the country, librarians are digging into the details of the Affordable Care Act to help patrons sign up for health insurance
(McClatchy) As millions of Americans gain health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, experts say their higher rates of mental health and substance abuse disorders will be difficult to treat due to a lack of counselors and behavioral therapists who accept Medicaid patients.
(Reuters) - The only three insurance companies in Louisiana that sell healthcare policies under President Barack Obama's healthcare law throughout the state are rejecting payments from a federal program intended to help low-income HIV patients, advocacy groups said on Thursday. The Louisiana Health Cooperative and Vantage Health Plan, two smaller insurers, made the move following a decision by the state's largest insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, late last year to reject the payments.
(Fiscal Times) Though the poll comes four months into Obamacare’s rollout, Gallup cautions that it is too early to credit the president’s signature health care law for the decline. According to the survey, about 16 percent of American adults are uninsured, down from the high of 18 percent last year.

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