Report prompts mixed view of health care sign-ups

31 Dec 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

About half of Obamacare sign-ups in Missouri and Kansas are new for 2015 coverage.

WASHINGTON — At least 7.1 million people so far have enrolled in 2015 health plans through the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces, according to a pair of federal reports issued Tuesday.

More than 102,000 Missourians signed up in the first month of open enrollment for 2015 health insurance through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace.WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Tuesday reported a big increase in new customers signing up for health insurance in Florida, Texas and other states using the federal insurance marketplace.The U.S. transferred five long-held Arab detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay to Kazakhstan, where they will be resettled, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Jason Stevenson, communications director for Utah Health Policy Project, says he’s seen a similar split in traffic to his group’s office and at TakeCareUtah.org, which lists information about health insurance and connects users to advisers. As of Dec. 26, 6.5 million people signed up for coverage in federally run exchanges — that includes new enrollments, people actively reenrolling, and existing customers who allowed their coverage to automatically renew, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ weekly enrollment update. The transfer leaves 127 at the prison heading into 2015, which President Barack Obama hopes will be a milestone as he works to realize his long-delayed goal of closing the detention center on U.S.-controlled territory in Cuba, officials have said.

For 2014, the fine for adults who went without insurance is the greater of $95 per person or 1 percent of household income above the threshold for filing taxes. However, HHS said most states haven’t reported complete information about the number of reenrollments, meaning the actual enrollment count is likely higher. This is the second year of coverage available under what’s commonly referred to as Obamacare, a health insurance program for individuals who don’t have access to job-related coverage or Medicare. States with large numbers of new customers in the federal exchange included Florida (330,000), Texas (205,000), North Carolina (110,000), Georgia (103,000) and Pennsylvania (95,000).

That is larger than the proportion of people who qualified for financial assistance in the initial months of the first open enrollment period (80 percent from October to December 2013). The enrollment period is scheduled to end Feb. 15, just a few weeks before the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a lawsuit challenging the legality of subsidies provided through the federal-run exchanges. Larry Levitt, a senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said, “It’s significant that the largest number of new enrollees this fall came from states like Florida and Texas, which were not the most enthusiastic supporters of the health care law.” California, the most populous state, which led the nation with 1.4 million people insured through its state-run exchange in 2014, says it has added 144,000 new enrollees this fall, through Dec. 15. A 2-year-old accidentally shot and killed his mother after he reached into her purse at a northern Idaho Wal-Mart and her concealed gun fired, authorities said Tuesday. The office, wrapping up an investigation of the school, said it failed to dispatch “prompt and equitable” responses to complaints, and didn’t respond to two student complaints of sexual assault.

The office has 92 cases under investigation involving campus sexual harassment. “We are deeply committed to fostering a campus climate that is free of sexual harassment and sexual violence,” Harvard Law Dean Martha Minow said in an emailed message to the school community. The latest numbers include people who took action to renew their coverage for 2015 or changed plans, but generally do not include people who were automatically re-enrolled in their current health plans.

Even though the federal government has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars to states to set up insurance exchanges, it has had difficulty enforcing standards for the reporting of enrollment data. Pearson said, “it is very difficult to make apples-to-apples comparisons between states, between the federal and state exchanges, and between the open enrollment periods for 2014 and 2015.”

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