State Exchanges Gird For Round Two
Covered California hopes to enroll more than half a million new residents this year, bringing total participants to about 1.7 million. Meanwhile, more than 12,000 Oregonians could owe money at tax time because of errors computing their premium subsidies, and a study of Colorado residents finds that insurance costs and signup confusion kept many on the sidelines.
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: California’s Insurance Exchange Gears Up For Round Two
California’s insurance exchange began mailing renewal notices this week to more than 1.1 million people already enrolled in health plans, officials announced Thursday. Consumers who want to make changes must do so by Dec. 15 for coverage effective Jan. 1, while those who want to keep their current plans will be renewed automatically. The renewals are occurring as the state’s marketplace, Covered California, gears up for the open enrollment period for new consumers. Between Nov. 15 and Feb. 15, Covered California hopes to enroll more than 500,000 new people, which would bring the total to about 1.7 million (Gorman, 10/16).
Oregonian: More Than 12,000 Oregonians Could Owe At Tax Time Under Cover Oregon Subsidy Errors
More than 12,000 people who purchased policies through Cover Oregon could owe a combined $1.12 million at tax time because of errors in subsidized premiums issued by the health insurance exchange. The vast majority of people affected are expected to owe no more than $10 per month [for the period] that their policy was in effect. That figure is not final, however, because a $10,000 consultant's study intended to settle the question did not succeed. The exchange is planning to commission a second, more in-depth study (Budnick, 10/16).
Health News Colorado: Cost, Confusion Stall Hunt For Insurance
Cost and confusion prevented many uninsured people from signing up for health coverage this year in Colorado, according to two new reports. A Rand study, Barriers to Enrollment in Health Coverage in Colorado, found that some consumers didn’t want to sign up because they opposed the individual mandate. Others were frustrated that they first had to apply for Medicaid in a cumbersome process. Still others found Colorado’s exchange website confusing. And many people said costs for insurance and co-pays seemed too high (Kerwin McCrimmon, 10/16).
Meanwhile, in other news regarding the health law's implementation -
Kaiser Health News: Administration Signals Doubts About Calculator Permitting Plans Without Hospital Benefits
Insurance consultants were shocked recently to learn that Obama administration rules allow large companies to offer 2015 worker health plans that don’t include hospital benefits. Now the administration is concerned too. Treasury Department officials are preparing to reverse course on an official calculator that permits plans without hospital coverage to pass the health law’s strictest standard for large employers, said industry lawyers who have spoken to them. These sources expect the administration to disallow such coverage by the end of the year (Hancock, 10/17).
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Big Decision Ahead For Obamacare Enrollees
A plan to automatically re-enroll thousands of Georgians in health plans they bought through the federal insurance marketplace for 2014 may allow some to happily avoid the government’s website when open enrollment starts next month. But those who stay the course instead of taking the time to sift through new coverage options for 2015 could end up paying more for their current plans. That’s because new health plans and prices to choose from will almost certainly change the size of federal tax credits consumers can qualify for to help shrink their monthly premiums (Anderson, 10/16).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Franken: Override ‘Hobby Lobby,’ Make Contraceptives More Available To Women
U.S. Sen. Al Franken reiterated his stance Thursday that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision that limited access to birth control must be overridden, in a women’s health roundtable in St. Paul that focused largely in the fallout from this summer’s Hobby Lobby ruling. The ruling, in which the U.S. Supreme Court said that requiring corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception violated federal law protecting religious freedom. Franken told the panel of assorted women lawyers, citizens and advocates that the ruling must be overturned (Simons, 10/16).