KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Challenges Loom For New Obamacare Enrollment Period

Officials hope to renew coverage for the 15 million people who signed up last year as well as expand the pool by another 10 million, but there are concerns about consumer costs and choices.

Fox News: Obamacare Signups Return With More Plans But Concerns About Software, Cost, Care Options
The Obamacare exchanges that opened for business last fall to disastrous consequence are expected to be largely improved with better technology and more insurance plans when they re-open next month, but critics are still raising concerns about consumer costs and choices. The Department of Health and Human Services said in a preliminary report released Sept. 23 that the number of insurers has increased by 25 percent, which officials argue should lower premium costs through competition, in addition to offering customers more choices (Weber, 10/5).

Kaiser Health News: Obamacare Enrollment: Second Year An Even Tougher Challenge
States and the federal government aim to renew coverage for 15.3 million already signed up on exchanges and Medicaid -- and enroll about 10 million more who are currently uninsured. The second round of enrollment under the nation's Affordable Care Act promises to be tougher than the first. Many of those eager to get covered already did, including those with health conditions that had prevented them from getting insurance in the past. About 30 million to 40 million people remain uninsured in the United States, according to various surveys. 'When you look at those who remain uninsured, they are in many ways harder to reach," said Anne Filipic, president of Enroll America'" (Gorman and Appleby, 10/5).

Also, some news outlets examine specific coverage options --

Los Angeles Times: Weigh Options When Losing Health Coverage At Work: COBRA Or Obamacare
[P]eople leaving -- or losing --a job can continue the policy offered by their employer under COBRA, or they can buy one on their own in the private health insurance market. Those with qualifying incomes who shop through the state's Affordable Care Act exchange, Covered California, may be able to get financial help paying for coverage. The best choice will depend on a number of factors, experts say. Here are some tips (Zamosky, 10/5).

Religion News Service/The Washington Post: Following Evangelicals, Traditional Catholics Create A Health Insurance Alternative
If you are a Christian who doesn’t smoke, abstains from sex outside your heterosexual marriage and can get your priest to vouch that you go to church at least three times a month, you may qualify for a new Catholic alternative to health insurance. Taking a cue from evangelicals, a group of traditionalist Catholics on Thursday (Oct. 2) unveiled a cost-sharing network that they say honors their values and ensures that they are not even indirectly supporting health care services such as abortion that contradict their beliefs. Christ Medicus Foundation CURO .... The SMI network now serves 125,000 people and is exempt from the Affordable Care Act (Markoe, 10/3).

In addition, Modern Healthcare reports on a health law implementation change --

Modern Healthcare: HHS Seeks To Relax Fraud And Abuse Rules To Spur Care Innovation
The Obama administration is trying to reduce legal barriers to coordinating care and giving patients the products and services they need to improve their health, such as transportation to medical appointments and blood-pressure cuffs. In a proposed rule issued Thursday by HHS' Office of Inspector General, the agency proposed additional safe harbors from prohibitions on providing incentives to patients enrolled in government health programs to seek treatment. ... The proposals drew widespread praise for adjusting what many view as antiquated fraud and abuse rules that have stymied care innovations that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has sought to encourage (Demko, 10/3).  

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