KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Marketplaces Offer Americans The Kind Of Shopping They Like; Enrollment Isn’t As Robust As Administration Claims

The Wall Street Journal: Obamacare—A Game-Changer In The Making?
Americans have grown accustomed to online comparison shopping, as the overwhelming number who clicked on health-exchange websites demonstrates. Over time, more Americans may actually comparison-shop for health insurance—a new experience for many—choosing lower premiums for higher deductibles and narrower networks of doctors and hospitals or vice versa. They might like it. If they do, shifting basic Medicare to a similar approach might follow. The government shutdown is temporary. The exchanges may be permanent (David Wessel, 10/2).

The New York Times: Reform Turns Real
But this confrontation did start with a real issue: Republican efforts to stop Obamacare from going into effect. It's long been clear that the great fear of the Republican Party was not that health reform would fail, but that it would succeed. And developments since Tuesday, when the exchanges on which individuals will buy health insurance opened for business, strongly suggest that their worst fears will indeed be realized: This thing is going to work (Paul Krugman, 10/3).

Forbes: Enrollment In Obamacare's Federal Exchange, So Far, May Only Be In 'Single Digits'
I fully expect that the people who get a good deal out of Obamacare—poorer and sicker individuals—will sign up. The enrollment figures will increase. But the real question isn’t how many people enroll: it’s what kind of people enroll. Two-thirds of the uninsured in America are under the age of 40. What will be the average age of an enrollee on the exchanges? If most enrollees were born before or during the Nixon administration, start worrying (Avik Roy, 10/3).

The New York Times: A Population Betrayed
It is outrageous that millions of the poorest people in the country will be denied health insurance because of decisions made mostly by Republican governors and legislators. These people will neither qualify for their state's Medicaid program for the poor nor for subsidized coverage on new insurance exchanges that are being established in every state by the health care reform law (10/3).

USA Today: Obamacare Mandates Threaten Religious Freedom
Because Catholic social teaching emphasizes the dignity of work and workers, it has always been important to me to offer our employees good wages and benefits. I write because the mandate is forcing me and my family to choose between the teachings of our faith and the operation of our business. It gives us three options, all of which are unconscionable according to our beliefs: (1) violate our faith by complying with the mandate and provide our employees with insurance that covers contraception and sterilization; (2) pay over $16,000,000 in fines per year, destroying our business and putting our employees out of work; or (3) cut our employees' health benefits so that we do not have to violate our beliefs (John Kennedy, 10/3). 

The Washington Post: Sometimes 'Unnecessary' Medical Tests Save Lives
A few months ago, my 65-year-old mother had "screening" blood tests, which showed inflammation of the liver. She was healthy and had no symptoms of liver disease. The cause of the inflammation was unclear. To investigate, doctors ordered more tests. As a physician, I have seen how excessive testing can lead to worry and more tests. That seemed to be transpiring — but this time, the patient was my mother (Jason H. Wasfy, 10/3). 

The Wall Street Journal: A Sound Bite Can Save A Child's Life
On Monday, hundreds of people with rare diseases will gather with medical researchers, pharmaceutical executives and life-sciences investors in Bethesda, Md., for the annual U.S. Conference on Rare Diseases and Orphan Products. For the patients and their parents—about two-thirds of those who have rare diseases are children—it will be a singular opportunity to capture the attention of someone who might be able to make a lifesaving difference (Mary Dunkle, 10/3).

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