Understanding Obamacare

Kate Barth

In a Florida Matters show first aired Tuesday night on WUSF 89.7 FM, a panel of experts answers reader and listener questions about the Affordable Care Act.

As the March 31 deadline for the Affordable Care Act looms, many undocumented immigrants are not registering their U.S. born children out of fear of deportation, USA Today reports.

Get Covered, America

With just 10 days left to enroll the uninsured for health coverage, the Healthcare.gov drumbeat is growing louder, more rapid.

President Obama is sprinkling health care into every conversation, even those about the NCAA basketball tournament. Celebrities are plastering photos of themselves on social media, holding signs saying “#GetCovered.”

And across Florida, enrollment navigators are pushing the in-person approach: blitzing college campuses, community centers, hospitals and clinics before the March 31 deadline.

10 States, Including FL, Critical to Enrollment

Mar 19, 2014

Ten states — seven of them controlled by Republicans —hold the key to whether the Obama administration succeeds at signing up 6 million people by the deadline of March 31.

Those large states account for nearly 30 million uninsured — almost two-thirds of the nation’s 47 million uninsured.

That’s why the Obama administration and advocates have focused so much attention on California, Texas, Florida, New York, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

State Democrats have calculated that the state could conservatively save $470 million of what it will otherwise spend next year if it accepted federal funds for Medicaid expansion, even after paying to cover the hundreds of thousands of low-income uninsured.

With the March 31 deadline to buy health care looming, Florida ranks first in overall sign-ups for states with the federal government-run marketplace, at nearly 442,000. 

The Wordsmith, 2009

With just two weeks left before Affordable Care Act enrollment ends, Miami-Dade cab drivers may be getting a big tip. 

State Impact, NPR

Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, who doesn't think it's sappy to speak of "public service" and would go the second mile for a kid or a veteran or an elder, doesn't want to talk about Medicaid.

Even though he spent much of his adult life as a health-care executive - he's been a hospital administrator, and founded a hospice - he seems to despise the joint state-federal health program for the poor. He gets grumpy when the subject of Medicaid comes up.

Salim Zymet/HHS

With less than three weeks left in open enrollment, 442,000 Floridians have enrolled in a health plan through the federal insurance marketplace, health officials reported Tuesday.

And 83 percent of those who have enrolled in Florida received financial help in the form of tax credits, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

With the end of open enrollment for health coverage looming March 31, some of the uninsured may be planning to stay that way, hoping they won't get sick or injured. But remember the "individual mandate"? The day of reckoning is near.

Those who are over the poverty line and who don't enroll in a health plan by the end of the month will be in violation of the Affordable Care Act and will have to pay a penalty at tax time in 2015. The amount is about 1 percent of income, but it depends on several factors, including family size.

Mary Shedden/WUSF

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act continue to push Floridians to sign up for health insurance, and they’re using everything from college computer labs to community carnivals as their enrollment hotspots.

Through January, nearly 300,000 Floridians had signed up so far on the health insurance marketplace, and updated numbers could come next week. Navigators are pushing hard to get last-minute enrollees in before the March 31 deadline. So plan to see a lot of events the next three weeks, something like Thursday’s “Nav-Lab Enrollment Blowout” at the University of South Florida.

After several delays, the troubled Florida Health Choices program on Tuesday launched a website selling niche health products, ones which are separate from the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

The launch was delayed last month after higher-than-anticipated interest in the website prompted technology experts to retool it. But CEO Rose Naff announced it is open for business with a single vendor and offers five different plans, including a prescription discount card and bundled discount products that includes vision, dental, telemedicine and prescriptions.

Sick of hearing about the health care law?

Plenty of people have tuned out after all the political jabber and website woes.

But now is the time to tune back in, before it’s too late.

The big deadline is coming March 31.

By that day, for the first time, nearly everyone in the United States is required to be signed up for health insurance or risk paying a fine.

Here’s what you need to know about this month’s open enrollment countdown:


Tom Carlock

With just one month left before the deadline to sign up for a 2014 health plan, enrollment events are popping up all over the state.  Health Care for Florida Now, an advocacy group for health-care access, has pulled together an events calendar to help.

Monday's listing is topped by "Moral Monday," described as a mass rally at the Capitol in Tallahassee organized by groups seeking "social justice." They include the NAACP and a number of clergy from both  black and white churches.

The latest delays in implementing the Affordable Care Act are prompting critics to challenge the Obama administration’s legal authority to tweak the law, the Miami Herald reports.

The latest deadline extension, delaying the date for certain employers to offer health benefits to full-time workers, led some Republicans and conservative groups to say it’s a political ploy related to the critical mid-term elections.

Is FL a Risk to Healthcare.gov?

Feb 26, 2014
The Associated Press

Security experts working for the federal government last fall said two-thirds of state computer systems that were supposed to tap into federal computers to verify personal information for coverage were rated as "high risk" for security problems, the Associated Press reports.

According to a map from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Florida was one of the states the security experts identified as having a risky connection point.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

As the deadline for getting health insurance nears, you might have some questions about how the Affordable Care Act affects you.

Well, here's your chance to ask.

We want to help sort out all of these changes resulting triggered by Obamacare, especially the looming March 31 deadline that nearly all Americans get coverage.

On an upcoming episode of Florida Matters on WUSF, we will ask a panel of experts to give practical answers to the questions important to you and your family.

Because of the U.S. Supreme Court decision and Florida’s anti-Obamacare politics, legal immigrants will qualify for subsidies on health plans in this state even as citizens under the poverty level get turned away. 

As The Associated Press reports from Miami, many low-income uninsured are baffled that they don’t qualify for a tax credit.

Phil Galewitz/Kaiser Health News

The “Get Covered, America” enrollment effort that mimics the Obama campaign method of door-knocking is proving labor-intensive and mostly ineffective, the New York Times

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Gasparilla is Tampa's version of Mardi Gras -- at least when it comes to the beads, the parade and the partying.

During last weekend's pirate invasion, as people walked around in their best pirate costumes, contractors for the federal government were trying to pitch health plans under the Affordable Care Act.

Office of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

One of the invited guests watching the State of the Union message from the House gallery Tuesday night as a guest of the Democrats was a Republican businessman from South Florida.

Martin West served as the perfect example of what President Barack Obama hopes will turn into an army -- skeptics about the Affordable Care Act who turn into fans once they check it out, as the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The decision by state lawmakers not to expand Medicaid could cost Florida businesses as much as $253 million a year in tax penalties, according to a new report released Wednesday.

Companies with 50 or more employees face Internal Revenue Service penalties if workers get subsidized health insurance through the new exchange under the Affordable Care Act. But they face no penalty if workers get subsidized coverage through Medicaid.

Two Florida Blue customers who had been caught in a major glitch in the company’s enrollment process say they received help immediately after WUSF's Health News Florida reported on their problem.

The radio story, which aired Thursday in Tampa Bay on WUSF 89.7 FM during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered," was picked up by most other Florida public radio stations the same day or later. Among the stations that aired it was WJCT in Jacksonville, the home base for Florida Blue.

Leslie Wyer, 60, says the health-insurance policy she bought through the Affordable Care Act is one of  the best Christmas presents she’s ever received. The Ormond Beach resident lost her insurance more than three years ago after her divorce, and she faces $175,000 in bills related to chronic Crohn’s disease.

A state report on the price of plans under the Affordable Care Act has been politically distorted to make things look worse than they are, a health advocacy group says.

The report by the Office of Insurance Regulation is to be presented to a House committee today  at 2:30 p.m. The meeting is scheduled to be streamed live on The Florida Channel.

A study about the impact of the 2008 Oregon Medicaid expansion on hospital emergency department visits doesn’t actually tell us much about the Affordable Care Act, consultant Paul Gionfriddo writes at his website, Our Health Policy Matters. Gionfriddo details why he thinks the study is more history than news.


About 35,000 Floridians who found they were eligible for health coverage through Medicaid are still waiting for confirmation that they’re covered, Kaiser Health News reports.


FREEPORT  — In this rural part of the Panhandle, Christopher Mitchell finds few takers when he delivers his message about the importance of exploring insurance options under the federal health overhaul. 

MIAMI  - The so-called "young invincibles" are so important to the success of the Affordable Care Act that supporters and detractors are spending millions to reach them with racy ads, social media campaigns and celebrity endorsements.

The president is even (gasp) asking their mothers to help convince them to sign up for insurance.

The federal government and states running their own exchanges have launched marketing efforts for this crucial demographic of healthy young adults, but it's unclear if the messages are getting through.

Florida Today

(UPDATED) Thousands of previously uninsured Floridians woke up Wednesday morning with peace of mind for the first time in years: They had a health insurance card, or at least the promise that one is in the mail.

They're the lucky ones who were able to get through the enrollment process in the federal Health Insurance Marketplace website, Healthcare.gov, by Christmas Eve.  Coverage through the exchange is one of the key parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that took effect Jan. 1.