KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Young People Remain In The Dark As Obamacare Exchanges Prepare To Open

Several newspapers explore how uninformed many young people are about new online insurance exchanges which open in two weeks, even though their participation is considered crucial to the markets' success. Bloomberg News documents how little Texans know about the law, although millions stand to gain coverage. Meanwhile, the New York Times describes a faculty uprising at Pennsylvania State University over a new employee wellness plan that takes some ideas from the law.

The Tennessean/USA Today: Health Law Offers Quandary For Youths
Whether he and millions of other young people buy coverage is crucial for the federal health law to reach the goal of making insurance affordable. Their participation is needed to offset the cost of guaranteed coverage for older people with pre-existing conditions. But with barely more than two weeks before enrollment begins on a newly created exchange for the uninsured, most young people know little or nothing about what's at stake for them, according to polls and surveys (Wilemon, 9/15).

Salt Lake Tribune: Obamacare: Will Utah’s Young Adults Pay Or Stay Away?
Experts say getting young Americans insured is critical to the success of the ACA. Those who are young and healthy reduce the risk in the insurance pool and balance the costs for older, less-healthy people. Many speculate, however, that the so-called "young invincibles" won’t rush to buy insurance when the online marketplaces launch Oct. 1 because they don’t think they need it. It turns out, the opposite is true, said Christina Postolowski, a policy analyst for the advocacy group Young Invincibles, which is working to educate young adults about the law and get them enrolled in plans in all 50 states. "What a lot of our polling found is that only about 5 percent of people don’t have it because they think they don’t need it," Postolowski said. "A much larger percentage don’t have it because they can’t afford it" (Dobner, 9/15).

Bloomberg: Texans In Dark On Obamacare As Enrollment Startup Looms
Randy Osban’s job selling ribs and brisket from a yellow trailer on Texas’s state road 71 offers a sweeping view of the hill country beyond Austin. One benefit his business doesn’t provide is health insurance. Osban, 55, could use it now, as his wife Kathy, 59, has a heart condition and the money he makes barely covers current expenses, much less a hospital bill (Wayne, 9/13).

The New York Times: On Campus, A Faculty Uprising Over Personal Data
Improving health while holding down health care costs is the kind of having-your-cake-and-eating-it combination that most people can get behind. In fact, both ideas are embedded in the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act. But an uprising among faculty members at Pennsylvania State University over a new employee wellness plan is challenging at least some of the methods designed to achieve those aims (Singer, 9/14).

Kaiser Health News: Local Uninsured Programs Face Uncertain Times As Obamacare Ramps Up
Jennifer Webb works the deli counter at Publix supermarket and has thyroid problems. Her boyfriend, William May, is an artist recovering from colon cancer. The couple has relied on a county program that provides health coverage to the working poor. But their 'security blanket,' as Webb calls the Alachua County CHOICES program, is being taken away at the end of December. As new coverage provisions take effect Jan. 1 under the health law, local programs that offered barebones care to the uninsured are in flux – and with them, the lives of thousands who depend on them (Galewitz, 9/13).

Des Moines Register: Ready Or Not, Here Comes Obamacare
David Fairchild and Clara Peterson are pinning their hopes on Obamacare. The couple, who own a small cleaning service, are in their mid-50s. They pay more than $900 per month for private health insurance, plus thousands of dollars a year in deductibles and co-payments. Until now, they’ve been unable to shop for other policies, because no other insurer would be willing to cover Fairchild’s chronic leukemia without charging even higher premiums. Starting Oct. 1, they and hundreds of thousands of other Iowans will be able to check out private policies offered on a new, government-run online shopping system (Leys, 9/14).

In other news, the Kansas City Star examines whether the availability of health insurance through new insurance exchanges could spur many Baby Boomers to retire early --

Kansas City Star: Obamacare Could Encourage More Early Retirements From Baby Boomers
The sound you hear could be baby boomers revving their early retirement engines. Insurance providers and financial planners expect the Affordable Care Act to encourage a flood of workplace departures from the 50-to-65 age group, which accounts for about 43 million members of the U.S. labor force. That’s because those not yet eligible for Medicare “won’t be hostage to your employer or your spouse’s employer anymore,” said David Power, a broker with PowerGroup in Overland Park. “The health care shackles are off” (Stafford, 9/15).

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