health insurance marketplace

Open enrollment is underway for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. 

A health law insurance program that was expected to boost consumer choice and competition on the marketplaces has slipped off course and is so far failing to meet expectations.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

The latest numbers from federal health officials show Florida is continuing to lead in enrollment on HealthCare.gov, with nearly 600,000 who have signed up so far.

HealthCare.gov

About 9.9 million people have signed up and paid for health insurance under President Barack Obama's health care law, the administration said Tuesday, a slight dip from a previous count but on track toward the administration's year-end goal of 9.1 million.

The U.S. Supreme Court this week hears a challenge to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. If successful, the lawsuit would cripple Obama's prized domestic achievement, a program that has brought the U.S. as close as it has ever come to universal health care.

The Affordable Care Act passed Congress in 2010 without a single Republican vote in favor.

An explanation of the legal case:

Four Words Determine the Law's Future

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.

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.

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.

Avalere Health

Despite state officials' opposition to the Affordable Care Act and the relative scarcity of helpers available,  Floridians are finding their way to Healthcare.gov and signing up for plans even beyond the growth in most states.

By the end of January, nearly 300,000 Floridians had enrolled in a new health plan through Obamacare -- a surge that left most other states in the dust.

Jodi Ray at University of South Florida, who leads the grant-driven effort to sign up the uninsured in most counties of Florida, said she's not in the least surprised.

Navigators in Florida say they’ve had to re-do some of the applications for coverage on Healthcare.gov submitted during the first few weeks of open enrollment, McClatchy News Service reports. The lead navigator for Primary Care Access Network in Central Florida said many of the applications for the health insurance marketplace submitted over the phone, by mail and online have been lost.

Today the Obama administration is launching a campaign to promote the benefits of the president’s signature health care law.

Commercial health insurers could be an alternative to the balky  Healthcare.gov if the White House grants a request from eight Democratic senators, including Florida Sen. Bill Nelson.  If the wish is granted, it could mean a huge influx of new customers for Florida Blue.

Licensed navigators and certified application counselors are facing additional challenges as they help Florida’s Hispanic population sign up for health insurance on the new exchanges, the Tampa Tribune reports. About a half-million people are being targeted by Hispanic Health Initiatives, which does outreach in Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

John Petrila's health policy class at the University of South Florida is full of undergraduate students glued to their smartphones, tablets and laptops. A perfect place, he reasoned, to test the Healthcare.gov website. 

“These folks are savvy. Every person in here is a tech savvy person whose used to being online,” Petrila said. “No one's in here thinking, ‘Well, what's the Internet?’ If these folks can't navigate this website, then that's a serious problem."

From one end of Florida to the other, calls for Florida House leaders to accept $51 billion in Affordable Care Act funds to expand Medicaid to cover the state's low-income uninsured were renewed on Wednesday. Even Gov. Scott started flirting with Obamacare again. But the man who said no to the money before -- House Speaker Will Weatherford -- is still saying no.

Here's a quick look at the action:

About 3,500 Floridians selected a health plan for 2014 on the federal Health Insurance Marketplace last month, only a tiny fraction of the 3.8 million uninsured in the state, new data show. But that was expected, since the the balky Healthcare.gov website crashed on launch and has worked only intermittently.

Nationwide, 106,000 were reportedly enrolled in the Affordable Care Act's Health Insurance Marketplace, all but 27,000 of them through state-sponsored exchanges.

CBS

Last week, a Winter Haven woman became the face of the Affordable Care Act backlash by complaining to CBS News that the law was forcing her out of her insurance plan. Diane Barrette, a 56-year-old real estate agent, choked up on camera as she said the replacement policy would cost her 10 times more.

Carol Gentry / WUSF

While most of the uninsured will be able to get subsidized health coverage Jan. 1 under the Affordable Care Act, the poorest adults under 65 will be out of luck in many states, including Florida. 

    

You could call them “The Forgotten.”  Many are women in their 50s and 60s, too old to have children still at home so they can’t qualify for Medicaid. But they’re not yet 65 so they don’t qualify for Medicare, either.

About 1,000 people who work for Darden Restaurants, which operates restaurants including Red Lobster and Olive Garden, are losing access to company health insurance in 2014, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The Orlando-based chain says those employees didn’t work enough hours -- 30 or more a week -- to be eligible for health insurance, but the chain had allowed them to stay on their health insurance plan anyway.

To keep you from having to search for it in the river of news, we're putting some basic information on the Affordable Care Act as it pertains to Florida in a prominent place at our home page, HealthNewsFlorida.org

All of our Affordable Care Act coverage can also be found here, with the latest posts at the top.

President Barack Obama said Monday that "nobody's madder than me" about the problems infesting Healthcare.gov, the enrollment website for plans through the Affordable Care Act.

But he added with a chuckle, "That means it's going to get fixed."

In the meantime, he said, Americans can pick up the phone. There are operators waiting to walk Americans through the sign-up process at the Health Insurance Marketplace's toll-free line, 800-318-2596.

Joe Paduda, a consultant to many Florida employers on workers' compensation, writes at his blog Managed Care Matters that the Health Insurance Marketplace needs to be closed until it is really ready.

A larger-than-expected surge in interest as well as complex technology are being blamed for a “sluggish” start of the online Health Insurance Marketplace serving Florida and 35 other states on Tuesday. 

As Kaiser Health News reported Wednesday, the federal exchange at HealthCare.gov drew 4.7 million unique visits during its first 24 hours.

There are two kinds of financial help for people planning to enroll in the online health insurance marketplaces that will open this fall. One could put people at risk of having to pay some of the money back, while the other won't.

That's one big difference between tax credits and subsidies, both of which are intended to help people with lower incomes pay for health insurance through the new health care law.

Health Exchange Outreach Targets Latinos

Jun 25, 2013

Andrea Velandia, 29, is just the sort of person the architects of the new health insurance marketplaces had in mind when they were thinking about future customers.

She's young, in good health, uninsured and Latino.

"We're very healthy. We don't have many issues," she says of her family. For the most part, she and her husband avoid the health system. "It's very expensive to go to the doctor to get a regular checkup," she says. "And you only have an option to go to the emergency room, which is even more expensive."

Who's going to be more successful at selling health insurance to young men this fall: NBA MVP LeBron James, NFL rookie of the year Robert Griffin III, or Mom? If officials at the Department of Health and Human Services get their way, all may be drafted.

This weekend marks 100 days until people can begin signing up for new health insurance coverage under the federal health care law. It also marks another milestone: the launch of an enormous public relations effort to find people eligible for new coverage and urge them to sign up when the time comes.

But like everything else about the health law, even this seemingly innocuous effort has been touched by controversy.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist’s pet project, Cover Florida, seemed a creative way to cover the uninsured with low-cost health plans. But two years after its 2009 launch it collapsed, because the only people who signed up for it were those who had health problems.
 

The federal government will likely handle Florida’s health exchange the first year, but the second year is an open question, the state senator said.