KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Newly Insured Get Schooling On How To Use Coverage

Health law advocates who had focused on enrolling people in insurance now are teaching them how to use their often-complicated policies. Meanwhile, a Hartford physician explains why he won't take Obamacare plans and thousands of inmates in a Cook County jail sign up for insurance.

The New York Times: Newly Insured, Many Now Face Learning Curve
Advocates of the Affordable Care Act, focused until now on persuading people to buy health insurance, have moved to a crucial new phase: making sure the eight million Americans who did so understand their often complicated policies and use them properly. The political stakes are high, as support for the health care law will hinge at least partly on whether people have good experiences with their new coverage. Advocates of the law also say teaching the newly insured how to be smart health care consumers could advance the law’s central goal of keeping costs down, such as by discouraging emergency room visits, while still improving care (Goodnough, 8/2).

Kaiser Health News: A Doctor's Perspective On Obamacare Plans
On a recent afternoon at his office in Hartford, Conn., Dr. Doug Gerard examines a patient complaining of joint pain. Gerard, an internist, checks her out, asks her a few questions about her symptoms and then orders a few tests before sending her on her way. For a typical quick visit like this, Gerard could get reimbursed $100 or more from a private insurer. For the same visit, Medicare pays less — about $80. And now, with the new private plans under the Affordable Care Act, Gerard says he would get something in between, but closer to the lower Medicare rates. That's not something he's willing to put up with (Cohen, 8/4).

Chicago Tribune: Dart: Up To 9.000 Inmates Signed Up For Obamacare To Help With Mental Health Treatment
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, attempting to cope with what he says is a growing mental health crisis among inmates at the county jail, said up to 9,000 people who have been incarcerated have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act in an attempt to get the care they need. “Systemically, over the course of decades, we’ve sort of carved back all the mental health services to the point where there is this question, we’ve carved it back to next to nothing,” Dart said on “The Sunday Spin” on WGN AM-720. The sheriff said that the process of closing mental health institutions under the goal of putting the mentally ill into community-based treatment has led to 3,000 of the jail’s 10,000 inmates requiring treatment. As a result, he said, costs have increased and jail staff has undergone greater training (Peterson, 8/4).

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