KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Finding The Meaning Behind New Obamacare Enrollment Numbers

As the president renews his call for people -- especially African Americans and Latinos -- to enroll for insurance coverage, news outlets detail what is actually known about who has already signed up. 

Politico: Snow Falls On Sunny Obamacare News Reports
The news that the pace of enrollment in the health insurance exchanges had picked up after its lousy start earned the health law some of its most favorable coverage. The fresh numbers, a million sign-ups in January boosting the total to nearly 3.3 million, made the front pages Thursday of some of the nation’s top papers and got some positive comment on TV, too. But for many newspapers across the country, the big story and the dramatic photos were the winter storm, the snow and the ice. ... The tone of coverage matters to the administration trying to get its top domestic law on track. People may be more likely to sign up if they start hearing good things about the law (Cunningham, 2/13).  

The New York Times: One In 5 Buyers Of Insurance Under New Law Did Not Pay Premiums On Time
One in five people who signed up for health insurance under the new health care law failed to pay their premiums on time and therefore did not receive coverage in January, insurance companies and industry experts say. Paying the first month’s premium is the final step in completing an enrollment. Under federal rules, people must pay the initial premium to have coverage take effect. In view of the chaotic debut of the federal marketplace and many state exchanges, the White House urged insurers to give people more time, and many agreed to do so. But, insurers said, some people missed even the extended deadlines (Pear, 2/13).

Fox News: Insurance Industry Raises Questions About New ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Being 'Inflated'
It’s hard to pinpoint precisely how many people have paid their premiums, since companies like Humana and United have not yet disclosed numbers. Aetna has said that 70 percent of their enrollees paid premiums in January, and of those who signed up before January, 90 percent paid their premiums. WellPoint has reported that a majority of its 500,000 enrollees have paid premiums but not a “vast majority” as of yet. Insurance industry officials are also raising questions about whether the White House really does not know how many people have paid into the system (Henry, 2/13).

The Fiscal Times: 4 Key Unanswered Questions About Obamacare
The data also shows an overwhelming 82 percent of people signing up for coverage have qualified for financial assistance. While the report offers some insight into the demand for Obamacare it lacks many details that are crucial to understanding how the law is shaping up so far. While the report offers some insight into the demand for Obamacare it lacks many details that are crucial to understanding how the law is shaping up so far (Ehley, 2/13).

The Washington Post: A Guide To Understanding Obamacare’s Sign-Up Numbers
Counting the number of people who have signed up for Obamacare turns out to be vexingly difficult -- and, after four months of open enrollment, now seems like an excellent time to break down what we do and don't know about the exact number of people gaining coverage through the Affordable Care Act. ... When you log onto to shop, the Web site doesn't ask you whether or not you currently have insurance coverage (Kliff, 2/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Pleads For Uninsured To Sign Up For Health Coverage
President Barack Obama said Thursday that the “big problem” with the health care law  now is that many people haven’t signed up for coverage because of politics, misinformation and the problem-plagued rollout of the federal insurance  website. In an interview on the Steve Harvey Morning Show, a radio show popular with African Americans, Mr. Obama pleaded for people to “take a look at the website or have somebody walk you through it on the phone” (Favole, 2/13).

NBC News: Obama: Tell Your Familia, Amigos, Vecinos About Obamacare
President Barack Obama is urging Hispanics through a video to sign up for coverage and then spread the word through their connections. In the video, posted Thursday on, Obama tells listeners if they are a Latino without health care to check out the government web sites in English or Spanish. And if they already have health insurance, Obama urges viewers to spread the word to “tu familia, tus amigos, tus vecinos," your family, your friends, you neighbors (Gamboa, 2/14).

The New York Times: States Struggle To Add Latinos To Health Rolls
With an estimated 15 percent of the country’s uninsured population, California is crucial to the success of President Obama’s health care overhaul. Here, that success cannot come without enrolling Latinos, who make up more than half of the state’s uninsured. But so far, enrollment of Latinos has fallen strikingly below the hopes of the law’s proponents, accounting for 20 percent or fewer of those who had signed up on the state-run health insurance exchange by the end of December (Medina and Goodnough, 2/13).

Bloomberg: Lag In Enrolling Latinos In Obamacare Spurs New California Push
Many low-wage Latinos fear that going on public assistance could harm their efforts to become U.S. citizens, or enrolling could lead to the deportation of undocumented relatives who live with them, according to community activists. At the same time, glitches on the insurance exchange website and a lack of Spanish-speaking counselors on its telephone banks aren’t helping, they say. ... almost half of California’s Latinos are eligible for subsidies under Obamacare (Vekshin, 2/14).

Kaiser Health News: Libraries Serve As Health Insurance Info Hubs
What can’t librarians do? Many are now becoming health insurance guides. The buzz at the American Library Association's winter meeting recently wasn't just about the annual awards (a.k.a. the book award "super bowl"); the Affordable Care Act was also on the agenda. Libraries across the country have been trying to meet a growing demand for health insurance information (Gordon, 2/14).

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