Have Questions About New Health Coverage? Here Are Some Answers
News outlets offer tips and answers for consumers who are trying to understand the health insurance they now have as a result of the health law.
Kaiser Health News: Tips For New Obamacare Coverage: Stay In Network, Avoid Out-Of-Pocket Costs
Congratulations. You bought insurance through one of the online Affordable Care Act exchanges, possibly after days or weeks of trying to get the site to work. Don't relax. Joining the plan is only the first challenge. Now you have to understand it. Policies sold through the online portals -- to more than 3 million people so far -- cover essential benefits and put a cap on your out-of-pocket medical costs. But you need to follow the rules (Hancock, 2/17).
The Fiscal Times: 10 Top Questions Consumers Ask About Obamacare
A new poll from the Urban Institute found that about a third of Americans are still unfamiliar with the health care law, and a Bankrate poll shows the majority have no idea what the deadline is to enroll. Since the law is aimed at only 15 percent of the adult population in the U.S. (85 percent of Americans have health care insurance through their employers or individually), these statistics are not out of line. On top of that, the administration has made numerous changes in the rules and deadlines, adding to consumer confusion. To help consumers get a better understanding of the Affordable Care Act, The Fiscal Times has assembled a user guide to Obamacare (Ehley, 2/17).
NPR: Finessing Health Coverage: When To Buy Insurance For A New Baby
We're heading into the home stretch to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act this year. The open enrollment period ends March 31 for most people. But there are exceptions. And they are the subject of many of our questions this month. For example, Diane Jennings of Hickory, N.C., has a question about her young adult daughter, who's currently covered on her father's health insurance. "When she ages out of the program this year at 26, in October," Jennings asks, "she'll have to get her own insurance through the exchange. But as she [will have] missed the deadline of March 2014, will she have to pay a penalty?" (Rovner, 2/17).
In addition, how -- even with coverage -- drug costs could add to health care expenses -
Fox News: ObamaCare Patients With Serious Pre-Existing Diseases Could Face Expensive Drug Costs
People with serious pre-existing diseases, precisely those the president aimed to help with ObamaCare, could find themselves paying for expensive drug treatments with no help from the health care exchanges. Those with expensive diseases such as lupus or multiple sclerosis face something called a "closed drug formulary." Dr. Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute explains, “if the medicine that you need isn't on that list, it's not covered at all. You have to pay completely out of pocket to get that medicine, and the money you spend doesn't count against your deductible, and it doesn't count against your out of pocket limits, so you're basically on your own” (Angle, 2/16).
And in other related news -
NPR: More U.S. Companies Switch To High Deductible Health Plans
Over-all health care cost increases have slowed dramatically, but consumers may not notice it. Many face higher deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket maximums as employers' insurance plans try to encourage them to pay more attention to health care costs. One big problem is health care price information is often not available (Ydstie, 2/18).