Why some don’t pay their Obamacare premium: It’s not what you think

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Question marksBy Lisa Aliferis, KQED

A new analysis finds that many people who signed up for a Covered California health insurance exchange plan are likely to drop the coverage for a good reason: They found insurance elsewhere.

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Next steps for the states and health reform

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With the first ACA enrollment season behind them, states are calculating how to improve the process.

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 7.33.38 AMBy Christine Vestal
Stateline Staff Writer

DENVER – Like other states that opted to run their own exchange, Colorado spent several years and hundreds of millions in federal dollars to create an insurance marketplace specifically tailored for Coloradans.

Complex legislation, multiple studies, numerous vendor contracts, dozens of public hearings and behind-the-scenes preparations led up to the launch of Colorado’s site in October.

As of April 1, Colorado signed up 119,000 people for commercial insurance – a little shy of its goal of 136,000.

State officials are already working on improvements for next year’s enrollment period, which starts Nov.15 and runs until Feb. 15, 2015.

“It makes me sick to think about it,” said Lindy Hinman, chief operating officer of Colorado’s exchange, Connect for Health. “But we’re already working on next year’s enrollment.”  Continue reading

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Health news headlines — April 3rd

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Nearly 150,000 signed up for private plans through Washington’s insurance exchange

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Washington Healthplanfinder announced Tuesday that more than 146,000 Washingtonians have signed up for private health insurance through that state’s health insurance exchange,  wahealthplanfinder.org, with 8,000 of those individuals signing up on Monday, March 31, the last day of open enrollment.

People will still be able to enroll in private plans through the exchange if they had started the application process before March 31st deadline, said Richard Onizuka, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.  Continue reading

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An option for the uninsured: Community health centers

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Jigsaw puzzle with one piece to add

By Michelle Andrews
KHN

If you’re uninsured, you may have run out of time. Yesterday was the formal deadline to sign up for health insurance on the marketplaces or face a penalty, unless you were already “in-line” for enrollment.

Still, people who missed the cutoff or couldn’t buy insurance have options to get the health care services they need. But doing so may not be simple or assured.  Continue reading

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Health news headlines — April 2nd

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Health law ‘crossed a milestone’ with more than 7 million enrollees, White House says

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By Mary Agnes Carey
KHN

The Obama administration took a victory lap Tuesday as enrollment through the health law’s exchanges topped 7 million, a goal previously thought untouchable when the website healthcare.gov sputtered and crashed as sign-ups began last fall.

In a statement in the Rose Garden, President Barack Obama, said, “The debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”  Continue reading

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You can still sign up for Medicaid if you qualify

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Apple Health LogoBy Britt Olson
Public Health – Seattle & King County

If you or your family qualifies for Apple Health — Washington state’s Medicaid program — there is no deadline to register for insurance.

A major component of the new Affordable Care Act in Washington state is expanded Medicaid coverage, or Apple Health. This allows thousands more people statewide to qualify for free health insurance.

Although the open enrollment period has officially ended to buy into the insurance exchange, individuals and families who are eligible for Apple Health may continue to enroll throughout the year; in other words, there is no deadline.

Who qualifies? It depends on family size and household income

  • Individuals who earn less than $15,857 annually qualify
  • A family of four with a combined income below $32,500 will qualify
  • The more children or dependents in your family, the higher your household income level can be.

To find out if you qualify, go to Washington Healthplanfinder. Enter your monthly household income, the social security number and date of birth for each member of your family seeking health insurance and any relevant immigration information.

You should receive notification of your coverage options within the hour.

While the federal deadlines do not apply to those who qualify for Apple Health, why wait? The sooner you apply, the sooner your insurance kicks in and you can better manage your and your family’s health.

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Burnt out primary care doctors voting with their feet

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Illustration by Doug Chayka

By Roni Caryn Rabin
APR 01, 2014

This KHN story was produced in collaboration with wapo

Janis Finer, 57, a popular primary care physician in Tulsa, Okla., gave up her busy practice two years ago to care full time for hospitalized patients.

The lure? Regular shifts, every other week off and a 10 percent increase in pay.

Lawrence Gassner, a Phoenix internist, was seeing four patients an hour.

Then he pared back his practice to those who agreed to pay a premium for unhurried visits and round the clock access to him.

“I always felt rushed,” said the 56-year-old. “I always felt I was cutting my patients off.”

Tim Devitt, a family physician in rural Wisconsin, took calls on nights and weekends, delivered babies and visited his patients in the hospital. The stress took a toll, though: He retired six years ago, at 62.

Physician stress has always been a fact of life.  But anecdotal reports and studies suggest a significant increase in the level of discontent-especially among primary care doctors who serve at the frontlines of medicine and play a critical role in coordinating patient care.

Just as millions of Americans are obtaining insurance coverage through the federal health law, doctors like Finer, Gassner and Devitt are voting with their feet. Continue reading

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Health news headlines — April 1st

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Health insurance enrollment events in King County, Monday, March 31th

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SeattleKing County and partner organizations will be hosting events in your community where you can get help enrolling in Washington Healthplanfinder for health insurance coverage today, Monday, the last day to enroll for coverage this year..

Certified customer-service experts will be available at each event to provide individual help as you compare and enroll in health insurance coverage and, if eligible, gain access to tax credits, reduced cost sharing, and public programs such as Medicaid. More ways to get help with insurance enrollment.

What to bring with you:

  • You will need to know your birth date, social security number, and annual income before taxes and deductions.
  • Legal immigrants will need to supply a passport, alien, or other immigration numbers.

Event for today, Sunda7, March 39th:  Continue reading

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Affordable Care Act: What happens next?

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seven-Hand_Written_7By Julie ApplebyMary Agnes Carey and Phil Galewitz
KHN Staff Writers

Just because open enrollment for people who buy their own health insurance formally closes March 31 doesn’t mean debate over the health law will take a hiatus.

After more than four years of strident rhetoric, evidence about how the law is actually working is starting to trickle in.

Here are seven things to watch before the next enrollment period begins in November:  Continue reading

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Health news headlines — March 31

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Women’s Health — Week 30: Urinary Incontinence

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Urinary incontinence, or loss of bladder control, can range from mild leaking to uncontrollable wetting.

For some women, the risk of public embarrassment prevents them from enjoying many activities with their family and friends.

Urine loss can also occur during sexual activity and cause tremendous emotional distress. Under a health care provider’s care, incontinence can be treated and often cured.  Continue reading

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