Affordable Care Act

The Florida Health Choices marketplace, first established as a mandate-free health care marketplace, is poised to start selling plans that are compliant with the Affordable Care Act, Christine Jordan Sexton of SaintPetersBlog reports. Florida Health Choices CEO Rose Naff has asked federal health officials to help establish a means to allow shoppers who qualify for federal tax credits offered through the federal exchange to buy on the Florida site.

When it comes to children getting insurance, there’s good news and bad news. The good news: the number of uninsured children in Florida has dropped—as it has across the county. The bad news: Florida remains near the top of states with the number of kids who don’t have health insurance.

If Subsidies Struck Down, ACA Could Unravel

Dec 2, 2014

Exactly what would happen to the Affordable Care Act if the Supreme Court invalidates tax credits in the three dozen states where the federal government runs the program?

Legal scholars say a decision like that would deal a potentially lethal blow to the law because it would undermine the government-run insurance marketplaces that are its backbone, as well as the mandate requiring most Americans to carry coverage.

Another U.S. Supreme Court case involving the Affordable Care Act will likely deter Florida’s Republican-led Legislature from considering changes during its 2015 session, the Miami Herald reports.

Competition Restrains Marketplace Premiums

Dec 1, 2014

A surge in health insurer competition appears to be helping restrain premium increases in hundreds of counties next year, with prices dropping in many places where newcomers are offering the least expensive plans, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of federal premium records.

KHN looked at premiums for the lowest-cost silver plan for a 40-year-old in 34 states where the federal government is running marketplaces for people who do not get coverage through their employers. Consumers have until Feb. 15 to enroll for coverage in 2015, the marketplace’s second year.

Hep C Drugs Behind National Spending Jump

Nov 20, 2014

After several years of modest increases, American spending on medications is projected to shoot up by 12 percent this year, pushing the nation’s drug bill to between $375 billion and $385 billion, according to a report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

Several factors are driving the spending spike, including the introduction of expensive new hepatitis C drugs and fewer drug patent expirations than in previous years, the report found. Such expirations typically lead to savings as cheaper generics replace brand-name drugs.

Enrollment Push Moves To The Pulpit

Nov 18, 2014
Abe Aboraya / WMFE

This weekend marked the beginning of open enrollment season, the time when uninsured Floridians can sign up for health insurance on HealthCare.gov. 

An estimated 1.5 million Floridians don’t have insurance. 

At Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville, Renard Murray, the regional administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services came from Atlanta to address the congregation of more than 300.

When asked who knows someone with high blood pressure, asthma or diabetes, almost everyone at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church raised a hand.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

From a tailgating party with Gator fans in Gainesville to a beer festival in Pensacola, Floridians had plenty of opportunities Saturday to get in-person help signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. And as the second year of enrollment kicks off, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell is making a swing through Florida today to help get the word out.  

Burwell will make a stop in Tampa Monday morning at the Navigation Lab at the University of South Florida; she will be in Miami this afternoon.

Insurance Exchanges Launch With Few Glitches

Nov 17, 2014

A Los Angeles furniture store worker who had never had health insurance enrolled in a plan for $75 a month that will cover both him and his son.

An unemployed accountant in Charlotte, N.C., who tried and failed to sign up last year found coverage for $11.75 a month.

A self-employed house contractor from West Palm Beach, Fla., found a health plan that will cost him nothing.

Many of the 7 million consumers who got insurance under President Barack Obama's health care law will see their premiums rise next year unless they switch to another plan, independent analysts said as the government released details Friday.

The Health and Human Services department released a massive computer file of 2015 premiums one day ahead of the start of open enrollment. Those numbers will take time to fully analyze.

Megan Milanese

Open enrollment on the federal health insurance marketplace starts on Nov. 15. The Health News Florida team is kicking off a series about the second year of open enrollment under the federal health law.

First, we take a look at HealthCare.gov, the website that people in Florida and 36 other states use to buy a health insurance plan.  This year, open enrollment runs for three months, until Feb. 15, 2015.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

    

Editor's note: Open enrollment on the federal health insurance marketplace started on Saturday, Nov.  15. The Health News Florida team is kicking off a series about the second year of open enrollment under the federal health law. First, we take a look at HealthCare.gov, the website that people in Florida and 36 other states use to buy a health insurance plan.  This year, open enrollment runs for three months, until Feb. 15, 2015.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

With sign-up season launching this weekend, officials sharply dialed down expectations Monday for the second year of President Barack Obama’s health insurance law.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said she’s aiming to have 9.1 million paying customers enrolled in 2015 for subsidized private coverage through HealthCare.gov and state insurance markets.

That’s more than now, but well below the 13 million that the Congressional Budget Office had projected.

Consumer Guide: SCOTUS Action on ACA Subsidies

Nov 10, 2014

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a case on a subject that’s important to millions of people who receive subsidies to help purchase coverage under the health-care law. Friday’s decision follows earlier action in July when two U.S. appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on the issue.  KHN’s Mary Agnes Carey answers some frequently asked questions about those court decisions and how they impact consumers.

Q: What did the Supreme Court do?

Once again the Supreme Court will decide whether the Affordable Care Act lives or dies.

Defying expectations, the court announced Friday it has agreed to hear a case that challenges the heart of the law: subsidies that help people pay their insurance premiums. In about three dozen states, the federal government runs the online marketplaces (exchanges) where individuals can find health plans.

Supreme Court Will Hear New ACA Challenge

Nov 7, 2014
U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear a new challenge to President Barack Obama's health care law that threatens subsidies that help millions of low- and middle-income people afford their health insurance premiums, including Floridians.

The justices said they will review a unanimous federal appeals court ruling that upheld Internal Revenue Service regulations that allow health-insurance tax credits under the Affordable Care Act for consumers in all 50 states. Opponents argue that most of the subsidies are illegal.

Scott Win Lowers Medicaid Expansion Odds

Nov 6, 2014
Associated Press

Tuesday’s re-election of Republican governors in closely contested races in Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin, Maine and Kansas dims the chances of Medicaid expansion in those states.

Advocates hoping for Democratic victories in those states were disappointed by the outcomes, but Alaska, which also has a Republican incumbent, remains in play as an independent challenger holds a narrow lead going into a count of absentee ballots.

Hospitals Taking Cues From Hospitality

Nov 5, 2014

Two years ago, Inova Health System recruited a top executive who was not a physician, had never worked in hospital administration and barely knew the difference between Medicare and Medicaid.

What Paul Westbrook specialized in was customer service. His background is in the hotel business – Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton, to be precise.

What a difference a year makes.

The nation’s biggest health insurers entered last fall cautious about a major coverage expansion initiated by the health care overhaul, the federal law that aims to cover millions of uninsured people.

Investors and company executives were worried because they didn’t know how expensive new customers from the overhaul would be for insurers. They also were concerned about added costs from the law and funding cuts to government-sponsored Medicare Advantage plans, a key growth area.

Healthcare.gov

  More than 200,000 Floridians are projected to sign up for health insurance during the upcoming Affordable Care Act enrollment period beginning November 15th, the Miami Herald reports.

The projection, compiled by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, would raise Florida's total enrollment to about 1,07 million, the Herald reports.

Some Southern States Expanding Medicaid

Oct 30, 2014
The University of Arkansas

The University of Kentucky’s Chandler Hospital has seen its inpatient numbers rise by 5 percent and its outpatient numbers rise by 10 percent since July. But its number of uninsured patients has dropped, from about 9 percent to 2.5 percent.

Prior to this year, says Chandler’s Dr. Michael Karpf, “we were getting paid 10 cents on the dollar” serving low-income patients. “Now we are getting 40 cents on the dollar, so the cost of care for these people isn’t totally covered, but there is a lot more reimbursement. It means we are having very strong bottom lines in the hospital.”

While the Affordable Care Act offers insurance for people living with HIV/AIDS, the plans could be too costly, the Miami Herald reports. Prices for 2015 plans won’t be announced until at least next week, but some Floridians won’t be surprised if they can’t afford it, the Herald reports.

HealthCare.Gov EZ Form Not for Immigrants

Oct 27, 2014
CuidadoDeSalud.gov

HealthCare.gov's simpler online application is being touted as a big win for consumers. But it can't be used by immigrants in the United States legally and naturalized U.S. citizens, who represent millions of potential new health insurance customers.

That's prompting worries that many Hispanics and Asians will end up in long enrollment queues when the second sign-up season for coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law gets underway next month.

Florida's candidates for Attorney General met for their first and only debate earlier this month in the studios of Bay News 9.

More than 35,000 Florida residents have lost the health insurance they enrolled in under the federal health law because they didn’t prove U.S. citizenship or legal residency status by Sept. 5, the Miami Herald reports. 

HealthCare.gov, the website for health insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law, has been revamped as its second enrollment season approaches. But things are still complicated, since other major provisions of the Affordable Care Act are taking effect for the first time. A look at website and program changes just ahead:

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Old: 76 online screens to muddle through in insurance application.

Employer Plans: Premiums, Consumer Costs Hike

Oct 14, 2014

Fall is enrollment season for many people who get insurance through their workplace. Premium increases for 2015 plans are expected to be modest on average, but the shift toward higher out-of-pocket costs overall for consumers will continue as employers try to keep a lid on their costs and incorporate health law changes.

Experts anticipate that premiums will rise a modest 4 percent in 2015, on average, slightly higher than last year but lower than typical recent Increases.

“That’s really low,” says Tracy Watts, a senior partner at benefits consultant Mercer.

If former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist gets his old job back, he promises to expand Medicaid to roughly 1 million low-income residents by calling a special session of the Legislature or through an executive order. If Gov. Rick Scott is re-elected, the decision will be once again left to the Legislature with little meddling from him.

Streamlined Marketplace Site Unveiled

Oct 9, 2014
Healthcare.gov

Consumers using the federal healthcare.gov website when open enrollment begins next month should expect a faster website with a shorter application form and features making it easier to use on mobile devices, Obama administration officials said Wednesday.

In a briefing with reporters, they showed off a live version of the updated site and said it has already been used to enroll about 20,000 people.

Still, they did not promise that the website will be glitch-free when it opens for purchases on Nov. 15.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Democratic candidates were the only ones to show at a legislative forum organized by the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative. And each one said Florida needs to take federal funding to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The participants included Lorena Grizzle (D) – House District 66 candidate; Steve Sarnoff (D) – House District 67 candidate; Scott Orsini (D) - House District 69 candidate; and Judithanne McLauchlan (D) – Senate District 22 candidate.

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