KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

HHS To Insurers: You May Have To Add More Doctors, Hospitals In Obamacare Plans

Other stories today examine the administration's enrollment effort and how many people it could reach if it just focused on 116 of the nation’s 3,143 counties. Also examined is how the insurer WellPoint's bottom line is changing because of the law.

Bloomberg: Obamacare Insurers May Be Forced To Add Medical Providers
Insurers participating in Obamacare may have to expand their plans to include more federally funded health clinics, safety-net hospitals and other medical providers used by low-income people, under a U.S. proposal. Health plans offered through government-run insurance exchanges may be required to cover 30 percent of “essential community providers” in their areas in 2015, an increase from 20 percent this year, according to a letter to insurers issued today from the Health and Human Services Department (Wayne, 2/4).

Modern Healthcare: Insurers Selling Exchange Plans Would Have Tougher Standards In 2015, CMS Proposal Says
Insurers that want to sell plans through the federal exchanges for 2015 may have to do more to ensure members have access to adequate networks of providers. Participating health plans would be required to submit a list to the CMS of all in-network providers and medical facilities covered under a plan, according to a proposal detailed in a letter from the CMS on Tuesday. The CMS will review them, in conjunction with state regulators, to ensure that there is “reasonable access” to all types of providers (Demko, 2/4).

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Enrollees Hit Snags At Doctor’s Offices
After overcoming website glitches and long waits to get Obamacare, some patients are now running into frustrating new roadblocks at the doctor's office. A month into the most sweeping changes to healthcare in half a century, people are having trouble finding doctors at all, getting faulty information on which ones are covered and receiving little help from insurers swamped by new business (Terhune, 2/4). 

The Associated Press: Administration Drills Down To Find Uninsured
Uninsured Americans are still procrastinating about President Barack Obama’s health care law. With less than 60 days left to enroll, can the administration find the millions of customers needed to sustain new insurance markets? Geography could hold the answer, according to a study conducted for The Associated Press. It found the uninsured aren’t scattered around the country willy-nilly; half live in just 116 of the nation’s 3,143 counties. That means an outreach campaign targeted to select areas can pay off big (Alonso-Zaldivar, 2/5).

The New York Times: WellPoint, A Onetime Critic Of Health Law, May Yet Profit
Just a few years ago, the health insurer WellPoint outraged its customers — and regulators — by proposing an increase of nearly 40 percent in some of its annual premiums. Now, WellPoint has captured a large portion of the government money being spent on Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor, and can gamble on the new insurance marketplace because of protections offered by the federal government in the early days of the law’s introduction (Abelson, 2/4).

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