KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Enrollment Deadline Is Sunday And Officials Say Business Is Still Brisk

Federal officials say sign-ups are going strong in the final hours of open enrollment and remind consumers that failing to get a policy could result in a hefty fine.

USA Today: Feds Seek Insurance Sign-Ups As Clock Ticks Towards Enrollment Deadline
Four days before an enrollment deadline they vow not to extend, federal health officials on Thursday tried to dismiss suggestions Affordable Care Act sign ups slowed in January and emphasized that momentum is building toward Jan. 31. Instead, Andy Slavitt, acting administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, noted that December enrollment was particularly strong and he singled out 14 states where signups are running at least 20% higher than they were last year at this time. And Slavitt noted that Thursday traffic was 50% higher than a week ago, showing how interest is picking up during what he called "the final countdown." (O'Donnell, 1/28)

NPR: Still Uninsured? Buy A Health Plan This Week To Avoid A Tax Penalty
Federal health officials have this message for people who want health insurance: Don't wait. There are just four days left to sign up for an insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act, and officials from the Department of Health and Human Services are stressing that they won't extend the enrollment period this year beyond Jan. 31. (Kodjak, 1/28)

Marketplace: As ACA Deadline Approaches, Fines Loom
The deadline for getting health insurance through a government-run marketplace is January 31, and skipping out on insurance this year could cost you double what it cost last year as fines climb to $695 per adult, or 2.5 percent of household income — whichever is greater. But even with that bigger stick, Brian Blase with the Mercatus Center at George Mason said he expects plenty of people to sit this year out. (Gorenstein, 1/28)

The Sacramento Bee: Uninsured? Covered California’s Final Enrollment Push Ends This Weekend
For Covered California officials, it’s crunch time. They’ve spent $29 million on advertising, opened 500 storefronts, beefed up call centers and trained hundreds of health insurance enrollment counselors who speak 12 languages, from Arabic to Vietnamese. They’ve also rolled through 21 cities in a statewide bus tour to highlight this year’s open enrollment season, projecting the words “Enroll Now” on iconic buildings such as Sacramento’s Tower Bridge and San Francisco’s Coit Tower. (Buck, 1/28)

The San Jose Mercury News: Obamacare: Enrollment Deadline Looms
As the midnight Sunday deadline looms for hundreds of thousands of uninsured Californians to sign up for a health care plan -- or face steep fines -- it's gut check time for them, but also for Covered California. ... After a remarkable debut of signing up 1.1 million in Obamacare's first enrollment year, just 200,000 more people signed up last year -- 400,000 short of Covered California's goal. The exchange this year is being cautious about setting ambitious goals. But it's hoping it can add from 295,000 to 450,000 people this year. (Seipel, 1/28)

Kaiser Health News: Obamacare Sign-Ups Strong In N.C., Despite High Rate Hikes
North Carolina’s average premium increases on the Obamacare exchange are among the highest in the country, according to federal data. The Obama administration warned this open enrollment period, which closes Jan. 31, could be particularly tough because many of the sickest, and therefore most motivated, people already bought plans. And yet, sign-ups in North Carolina are on pace to be substantially higher than the two previous years. (Tomsic, 1/29)

And a look at how people who move can sign up for coverage later —

Kaiser Health News: Federal Officials Clarify Rules On Getting New Health Coverage After A Move
After the open enrollment period ends on Sunday for buying coverage on the health insurance marketplaces, people can generally sign up for or switch marketplace plans only if they have certain major life changes, such as losing their on-the-job coverage or getting married. Following insurance industry criticism, last week the federal government said it will scrutinize people’s applications for such “special enrollment periods” more closely, including one of the most commonly cited reasons — relocating to a new state. (Andrews, 1/29)

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