Understanding Obamacare

Lottie Watts / WUSF

  

Back in November, Phil Ammann of St. Petersburg was figuring out what he was going to do for health insurance. He found himself having to select a new plan, since the plan he bought on HealthCare.gov, was no longer going to be an option in 2015.

He wasn't the only Floridian going back to re-enroll in a plan.  According to federal health officials, 51 percent of the 673,255 Floridians who enrolled during the first weeks of enrollment were returning customers. 

Update at 5 p.m. E.T.: The House of Representatives passed this legislation on Thursday afternoon. It now heads to the Senate.

Taking a swing at President Obama's biggest policy achievement, the Affordable Care Act, is at the top of the agenda for the new Republican Congressional majority.

FL Leads in Marketplace Enrollment

Jan 2, 2015

What a difference a year makes.

With its technical troubles largely behind it, Healthcare.gov enrolled 1.9 million new customers for health insurance between Nov. 15 and Dec. 18.

Florida by far led the nation in that enrollment, with 673,255 people selecting plans on Healthcare.gov. That’s nearly double the signups in Texas, the other large state using the federally run marketplace.

FL Senate Could Reconsider Expansion

Dec 18, 2014
MyFloridaHouse.gov

  Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner is leaving open the possibility that his chamber will consider an expansion of health care coverage for low-income Floridians.

“Intriguing" was the word Gardiner used on Wednesday for a plan from business and hospital leaders that would accept billions of dollars under the federal Affordable Care Act and provide coverage through private insurers. The plan, called "A Healthy Florida Works," was introduced last week.

Arkansas became the first Southern state to expand its Medicaid program in a way that many Republicans found acceptable. The state bought private insurance for low-income people instead of adding them to the rolls of the Medicaid system, which GOP lawmakers considered bloated and inefficient.

Now Arkansas could be on the brink of another distinction: becoming the first to abandon its Medicaid expansion after giving coverage to thousands of people.

CuidadodeSalud.gov

Luis Alejandro Larrorte has lived the past two decades in the United States -- all of it without health insurance.

But the 56-year-old who sells cable satellite plans as a contractor was diagnosed with eye cancer. And the Pembroke Pines resident was eager to sign up on the federal healthcare marketplace.

But the Colombian native - who now is a U.S. citizen - says a lot of the insurance and medical terms involved didn't translate well into the Spanish-language website.

It's the second year of enrollment for health insurance plans under the federal health law on HealthCare.gov, the website that Floridians, and people in dozens of other states, use to shop for health insurance.

As of Dec. 15, we have passed a key deadline, the deadline to buy a plan to have coverage that starts Jan. 1. But open enrollment runs through Feb. 15, 2015, and we have gathered a panel to talk about what consumers be doing now if they still need to get health insurance coverage to comply with the federal health law known as Obamacare.

Businesses See Alternatives, Drop Coverage

Dec 16, 2014

For two decades Atlanta restaurant owner Jim Dunn offered a group health plan to his managers and helped pay for it. That ended Dec. 1, after the Affordable Care Act made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Health-law subsidies for workers to buy their own coverage combined with years of rising costs in the company plan made dropping the plan an obvious – though not easy – choice.

  

The deadline has passed to buy a health plan on HealthCare.gov for coverage that starts Jan. 1, 2015.

Following the lead of other Republican governors, Tennessee's Gov. Bill Haslam is moving to expand Medicaid in his state, using federal funds from the Affordable Care Act. Haslam announced the plan Monday morning; it'll be debated by the legislature next month.

From Nashville, Bobby Allyn of member station WPLN reports:

A coalition of businesses groups, local officials and healthcare industry representatives has rolled out a plan to insure nearly one million low-income Floridians. But they’re not calling it a Medicaid Expansion. 

More than 800,ooo Floridians are in health insurance limbo. They fall into what’s called the Medicaid coverage gap. Reed Mahoney of Tallahassee, is among them.

Megan Milanese

Christian Ward lounges on a couch in the University of South Florida student center in Tampa. He props crutches against the armrest and stretches out his leg, which is covered in a cast up to his thigh.

Like a lot of college students, Ward’s parents handle his health insurance. He'll tell you that having it definitely came in handy during his moment of need.

Monday’s an important deadline for Floridians shopping for insurance on HealthCare.gov.

Nearly a million residents signed up on this federally run marketplace last year. Now those wanting to re-enroll -- or sign up for the first time for coverage -- must select a plan by Monday if they want to be covered starting at the beginning of the New Year.

Abe Aboraya / Health News Florida

If Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell has a chance, she wants to talk with Florida leaders about expanding Medicaid in Florida.

Burwell was at Florida Hospital in Orlando Tuesday promoting open enrollment on the federal HealthCare.gov insurance exchange.  

She said in an interview with Health News Florida that she’s trying to understand why Florida’s legislature has decided to not expand the government health coverage for the poor. She said she’s open to talking about Medicaid expansion with legislative leaders and Governor Rick Scott.

healthcare.gov

When Olivia Papa signed up for a new health plan last year, her insurance company assigned her to a primary care doctor. The relatively healthy 61-year-old didn't try to see the doctor until last month, when she and her husband both needed authorization to see separate specialists.

She called the doctor's office several times without luck.

"They told me that they were not on the plan, they were never on the plan and they'd been trying to get their name off the plan all year," said Papa, who recently bought a plan from a different insurance company.

AP

  Expanding health care coverage, solving water problems, improving education and handling issues like legalizing medical marijuana and gambling were among the topics Florida leaders discussed during a summit Friday.

The idea was to bring together a bipartisan mix of political, business and education leaders to look at the major issues facing Florida in the immediate and distant future and to brainstorm on how the state should tackle them.

Florida Health Choices will start selling health plans that are compliant with the Affordable Care Act the week of Dec. 15, Christine Jordan Sexton of SaintPetersBlog reports. This soft rollout is scheduled to start on the last day consumers can buy a plan for coverage that starts on Jan. 1. The privately-run health marketplace, which previously only offered limited benefit plans, will spend $75,000 to advertise its new products.

Carol Gentry, Health News Florida

When the Affordable Care Act’s federal marketplace opened last year, Beth and Doug Warner of St. Petersburg asked a navigator to enroll them. But they discovered their income wasn’t high enough to get a subsidy.

Without one, Doug Warner said, the policy for the couple would cost $700 a month. “Basically the choice was, ‘Keep the roof over your head or buy healthcare.'”

It’s one of the great ironies of the health overhaul. Floridians most in need of health insurance -- adults below the poverty line -- are often blocked from coverage the Affordable Care Act provides.

A new coalition combining local business and health care groups is pushing a plan to insure more than a million Floridians who currently fall in the so-called Medicaid coverage gap.

More than a million Floridians make too much money to qualify for Medicaid under the state’s current income limits, but too little to qualify for insurance subsidies in the federally-run insurance exchange. The Florida legislature has twice rejected plans to expand Medicaid to those people.  

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.

Mary Shedden/WUSF

Brooke and Andrew Lee can't imagine being without health insurance.

So for the past seven years, that's meant digging deep into the earnings of their video production agency in St. Petersburg. It’s expensive, but Brooke Lee says the alternative is worse.

“Even though costs are high, I’ve just always been somebody who has health care. And I would be really nervous… for the unknowns to happen, some major accident or health problem that would put us out of business and pretty much ruin everything we’ve worked so hard on if we didn’t have health insurance,” she said.

As the next crop of Florida legislators met for the first time in Tallahassee on Tuesday, health care advocates and the new leader of the Senate Democratic caucus pushed for Medicaid expansion. 

WUSF

The nation's top health official says the ongoing legal dispute over the Affordable Care Act won't stop people who want insurance from signing up.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced it will consider a challenge to the law, which could eliminate subsidies for individuals who purchased plans in Florida and dozens of other states via the online marketplace known as HealthCare.gov.

ACA Health Premiums Up 10-15% in FL

Nov 17, 2014

The average monthly premiums for Affordable Care Act "silver plans" increased by double digits in most Florida counties for 2015, according to an Associated Press analysis.

In their analysis, AP reporters Mike Schneider in Orlando and Kelli Kennedy in Miami  compared premiums after averaging them for all silver plans, without taking subsidies into account. 

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.

Kaiser Family Foundation

Signing up for health insurance is no fun, especially for those unfamiliar with the industry’s terms and concepts. And according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey, few people excel in that area.

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.

Time For a HealthCare.gov Test Drive

Nov 10, 2014
HealthCare.gov

Floridians who buy their own insurance can start shopping for 2015 plans on the federal marketplace on Saturday, but a sneak peek of prices is available now.

HealthCare.gov -- the website for residents in Florida and 36 other states -- opened for window shoppers over the weekend. In Florida, 10 different companies offer plans.

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