KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Study Estimates A Third Of Uninsured Won’t Enroll In Health Plans

The Fiscal Times reports that the study by shows government outreach efforts are falling short. Meanwhile, news outlets look at enrollment efforts in New Jersey, Montana, Maine, Washington, Pennsylvania, Ohio and California.

The Fiscal Times:  One Third of Uninsured Won't Sign Up For Obamacare
As the White House scrambles to get people signed up for health insurance before the March 31 deadline, many uninsured Americans say they are still planning to take their chances and remain without coverage. A new study by shows that about one third of uninsured Americans are going to remain without coverage and opt to pay the penalty. The survey results suggest that the administration’s outreach to uninsured people may be falling short, with more than half of people without insurance unaware of the March 31 deadline—and even more unaware of subsidies that could make their policies more affordable (Ehley, 3/17). 

Newark Star-Ledger: Obamacare Enrollment Push Glosses Over Next Year's Fines, Some Say
At Obamacare enrollment events around the state, recruitment organizers emphasize the positive reasons for buying coverage on the insurance marketplace, like staying healthy and getting financial assistance to help pay their monthly premiums. But there's also the punitive side of the law: how much those who don't enroll will have to pay at tax time next year. The deadline to enroll is coming fast — March 31 — and many people don't realize they could be paying far more than the $95 flat fee talked about in the early days of the law, according to enrollment counselors, income tax preparation agents and accountants (Livio, 3/16). 

Helena, Mont., Independent Record: Obamacare Deadline Approaches, So Now What?
With just two weeks until the "Obamacare" deadline for Americans to get health insurance or possibly face a tax penalty, enrollment specialist Kristi Scott has some advice for her fellow Montanans: Don't wait until the last minute. "This is a mad rush right now, but it will all work out if you just get in there, contact someone who can help you and know your options," she said last week. ... Private health insurers, their agents and counselors at health clinics and hospitals are gearing up for the last-minute push, and urging buyers to start sorting through policies now and see what subsidies may be. "This is not car insurance; it's not going to be just 15 minutes," says Todd Lovshin, Montana director for PacificSource, one of three companies selling policies on the state’s on-line marketplace (Dennison, 3/16).

Bangor Daily News/Sun Journal: The Affordable Care Act Deadline Is Just Around The Corner — Are You Covered?
[Cheri-Ann] Parris is one of hundreds of people — certified application assistants, official ACA navigators, brokers and others — scrambling to get Mainers signed up for insurance, and fast. That's because a big ACA deadline is looming: The open enrollment period for individual insurance ends March 31. Most Americans must have insurance by then or face fines. ... Maine is doing better than most with its insurance sign-ups — 25,412 as of March 1. But Parris, for one, is still concerned. Tens of thousands of Mainers are likely still without coverage. "We're on the fast track to having all this finished and it's a little scary because I’m pretty sure there are quite a few people out there who still aren't insured," she said (Tice, 3/16).

The Montana Standard: Obamacare Exemptions Are Many
One of the most controversial parts of "Obamacare" is its requirement that all Americans buy or have health insurance this year, or face a tax penalty — but, for many, the requirement may not apply. Are you homeless? You're exempt. Did you recently get a shut-off notice from a utility company? You're exempt, too. ... One exemption to the tax penalty applies to as many as 50,000 people in Montana: Those earning less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level ($11,670 for a single person), and who don't qualify for Medicaid (Dennison, 3/17).  

The Seattle Times: Uninsured Urged To Sign Up For Coverage As Deadline Nears 
Chris Forte knew about the financial penalty many will face if they don't get health-insurance coverage by March 31. ... With the enrollment period drawing to a close, the county health department is reaching out to community groups, such as the Urban League, to continue to reach out to the uninsured (Greene, 3/5).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Health-Access Groups Gearing Up For A Last-Minute Affordable Care Act Consumers
With just 15 health-insurance shopping days left this year, groups across the region are gearing up for a last-minute blitz of Affordable Care Act consumers. Resources for Human Development, the PennsylvaniaHealth Access Network, and Get Covered America are all expecting waves of 11th-hour buyers to exceed the throng of clients they helped in the days leading to December's deadline to be insured by Jan. 1 (Calandra, 3/16).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Sebelius Pushes Lagging Enrollment In Ohio
With two weeks left before open enrollment ends under the Affordable Care Act, 79,000 Ohioans have selected a plan on the federally run insurance exchange (Tribble, 3/17).

Kaiser Health News: Thousands Of Young California Immigrants Eligible For Coverage -- Though Often They Don't Know It
Carlos Velazquez’s skateboard slipped out from beneath his feet and he spiraled onto the ground, landing hard on his left arm. He decided not to go to the doctor after the 2012 accident, resorting to over-the-counter pain medication and home remedies. The reason: He and his mother had overstayed their visas when he was a child, so he wasn't eligible for government-funded health insurance. And he couldn't afford a private plan (Gorman, 3/17). 

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