Tag: Obamacare

Obamacare Enrollment Blows Away Expectations at Nearly 9 Million, Despite Shortened Sign-Up Window

by Dan Managan via cnbc.com

Final open enrollment numbers for the Obamacare federal marketplace were surprisingly strong, with 8.8 million customers selecting a plan by the sign-up deadline, officials said Thursday.’

In the final week of enrollment, 4.1 million people signed up on Healthcare.gov, with 1 million of those being new customers, according to snapshot figures published by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Thursday.

CMS said, however, that these figures are not final because they do not include those who signed up after midnight Friday, Eastern Time. These numbers also do not account for people who were in line to enroll and left their callback number.

The high level of demand came despite fears that an enrollment season cut in half and a sharp reduction in outreach budgets would depress the number of sign-ups. The sign-up season, the first full one under the Trump administration, ran from Nov. 1 through last Friday — but many customers were unaware of the deadline.

The number of people who enrolled in the plans sold on Healthcare.gov, the federal marketplace that serves 39 states, was just about 400,000 fewer than the number that signed up during the prior enrollment season.

Lori Lodes, co-founder of the Get America Covered campaign, said these enrollment numbers are “huge.” She said the sign-up totals from the final week of enrollment were “likely the biggest in the history of the marketplaces.” Lodes, who served as a top health care official in the Obama administration, said these figures are an “incredible indicator of just how much people want quality, affordable coverage.”

“No wonder the administration scuttled their plans to release the enrollment numbers yesterday. Despite [President Donald] Trump declaring Obamacare dead just yesterday and all of his administration’s efforts to undermine enrollment this year, we saw record demand and enrollments,” she said.

Larry Levitt, senior vice president of special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation, tweeted that he was “very surprised” that enrollment was only down slightly year over year. “That didn’t seem possible with a 90% reduction in outreach, an enrollment period cut in half, and a constant refrain that the program is dead,” Levitt said on Twitter.

There is now a chance that the final enrollment tally for all of the United States could match or exceed the 12.2 million people who signed up throughout the country in the last sign-up period.

Nine state-run Obamacare marketplaces are still selling individual health plans that take effect in 2018. Officials at a number of those exchanges have reported higher enrollment this season than last season. Washington state’s Obamacare marketplace said enrollment so far this year is 35 percent higher than the same time period last year. California’s exchange, the nation’s largest state-run marketplace, said sign-ups are 10 percent higher.

Also, people in a number of Healthcare.gov states — including all of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and more than 50 counties in Texas — are still allowed to enroll in Obamacare plans because of a waiver given to those affected by hurricanes this year.
Continue reading “Obamacare Enrollment Blows Away Expectations at Nearly 9 Million, Despite Shortened Sign-Up Window”

Health Disparities Narrowed for Blacks, Latinos Under Obamacare, Study Shows

A patient receives chemotherapy. (Simon Jarratt/Corbis/VCG / Getty Images)

by via nbcnews.com

Health care disparities among blacks and Latinos compared to whites have narrowed because of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, according to a study published by The Commonwealth Fund Thursday. The report found that the number of blacks and Latinos without health care coverage dropped during the first two years of the ACA’s coverage expansion.

From 2013 and 2015, the uninsured rate among blacks between ages 19-64 dropped 9 percent, and dropped 12 percent among uninsured Latinos ages 19-64, the study showed. The rate of uninsured whites dropped 5 percent. The disparity among uninsured blacks and whites also narrowed by 4 percent and among Latinos and whites narrowed 7 percent.

Dr. Pamela Riley, vice president of The Commonwealth Fund’s Delivery System Reform and a coauthor of the report, said although the study shows progress in health coverage for everyone, blacks and Latinos are still more likely than whites to not get the medical care they need. “If we are going to reduce these disparities, we must continue to focus on policies like expanding eligibility for Medicaid that will address our health care system’s historic inequities,” Riley said in a statement.

The analysis also found the number of uninsured Latino adults dropped 14 percent in states that expanded Medicaid coverage compared to 11 percent in states that did not. The number of uninsured black adults meanwhile fell 9 percent in states both with and without Medicaid expansion. And because of the decline in the number of uninsured, the number of adults ages 18 and older who reported skipping health care when they needed it because of high costs also declined.

After Senate Republicans failed to “repeal and replace” the current health care law, uncertainty looms around Obamacare’s future once Congress returns to Washington from recess. The Commonwealth Fund’s President Dr. David Blumenthal said improving the ACA will continue to help minorities get access to health care.

To read full article, go to: Health Disparities Narrowed for Blacks, Latinos Under Obamacare, Study Shows – NBC News

Trump Administration, Facing Pressure, Agrees to Keep Making Crucial Affordable Care Act Payments

by David Lauter via latimes.com

The Trump administration, faced with increasing pressure from Republican members of Congress, agreed Wednesday to continue giving insurance companies payments that are widely viewed as critical to keeping markets stable under the Affordable Care Act.

Trump and his top aides have flirted for months with cutting off the money, known as cost-sharing reduction payments. Doing so would be one step toward causing the healthcare law to “implode” — as Trump has sometimes put it. Republican members of Congress, however, have worried that any move to cut off the payments would cause chaos in insurance markets. Trump has said voters would blame Democrats for any problems with the markets, but few Republican elected officials share that view.

The pressure to continue the payments increased Tuesday when the Congressional Budget Office reported that cutting off the payments would actually increase federal spending because ending them would cause insurance premiums to rise sharply, and thereby increase the cost of other government subsidies. A White House official confirmed Wednesday that the administration had decided to make this month’s payment, which will total around $600 million. The question of whether to make future payments remains under review.

To read full article, go to: Trump administration agrees to continue healthcare subsidy for now – LA Times

President Obama Announces Gun Control Initiatives at White House (VIDEO)

President Obama Unveils Executive Actions to Increase Gun Safety and Reduce Gun Violence (Photo: YouTube)
President Obama Unveils Executive Actions to Increase Gun Safety and Reduce Gun Violence (Photo: YouTube)

This morning at the White House, President Barack Obama announced the series of Executive Actions he plans to enact to increase gun safety, reduce gun violence, and help those subject to or afflicted by gun violence.  Obama deemed his actions necessary given the lack of action from Congress, even in the face of popular support for such measures as expanding background checks for gun purchases.

“Maybe we can’t save everybody, but we can save some,” Obama said in a speech in the East Room of the White House, where he was joined by survivors and families of the victims of gun violence.

Obama wiped away tears as he recalled the children killed in the 2012 Newtown, Conn., shooting rampage. He noted that tragedy didn’t translate into congressional action, even for measures that enjoy lopsided support among the American public. Legislation to expand background checks was blocked in 2013.

“The gun lobby may be able to hold Congress hostage right now, but they cannot hold America hostage,” he said.

A central feature of his actions are steps to expand the definition of who is a gun dealer, as those in the business of selling guns are currently required to perform background checks before making a sale. A big push among groups like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has been to close loopholes on sales of guns on the Internet and at gun shows. Although the executive action would not fall short of preventing all sales of guns without background checks, Obama said that it would expand the number of people and entities who will fall under existing law. He also unveiled measures to improve the background check system.

He also talked of the need to boost research on gun violence and gun safety, and to boost funding for mental health.

Though many detractors, lobbyists and Republican politicians decried Obama’s initiatives, Obama said that his moves are “not a plot to take away” guns and that background checks are not “some slippery slope to gun confiscation.” He didn’t mention Donald Trump by name, but his reference was to some of his rhetoric.

Instead, Obama compared his actions to efforts to boost safety in cars and even toys.  “We know that there are some constraints on our freedom in order to protect innocent people,” he said.

Some of his proposals — like a $500 million investment in mental health services and budget items for 200 new ATF agents — still require congressional support.

Obama will participate on Thursday in a town hall on gun violence.  You can watch his impassioned, detailed speech in full below:

article by Ted Johnson via Variety.com; additions by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

Obamacare Signup Numbers Over 8 Million; Far Outpaces Last Year’s Growth

obamacare (8 million signups)

If Donald Trump or any Republican who might manage to win the White House and tries to dump the Affordable Care Act aka ObamaCare… it’s looking more and more like that’s not going to be easy to do.

According to reports, almost 8.3 million people have enrolled in ObamaCare plans, putting the administration well ahead of last year’s total at the same point in the sign-up season.

Federal health officials announced the latest figures on Tuesday, touting stronger-than-expected demand in December as healthcare customers race to find or switch plans ahead of the deadline to sign up for coverage beginning 2016.

The quicker pace likely indicates people are seeking to avoid the higher cost of being uninsured in 2016. People without insurance by tax season will face far steeper penalties, almost double the fee from the previous year, reports The Hill.

Of the 8.3 million sign-ups, about 2.4 million are new to the marketplace — a figure that is one-third higher than last year’s new total at the same distance from the deadline.

Significantly, this year’s sign-ups include 2.1 million people under age 35 — nearly double the number of young people enrolled during the same period last year.

“We’re excited in terms of what it means for health security and financial security. We’re excited about the fact that it does mean a younger risk pool, which is generally stronger,” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced on a conference call with supporters Tuesday.

The growing diversity of the marketplace will be welcome news to health insurance companies, many of which remain worried that customers are older, and therefore costlier to cover, than they had originally expected.

Read the FULL report at The Hill.

article via eurweb.com

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare”

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 10.17.52 AM

The United States Supreme Court has upheld a key portion of President Barack Obama‘s healthcare law in a 6-3 decision.  The court ruled the law made subsidies available for people in all 50 states, not just those who bought insurance through a state exchange.

Thursday’s decision is a major victory for the Obama administration.  “We’ve got more work to do, but what we’re not going to do is unravel what has now been woven into the fabric of America,” Mr Obama said.

The high court case was the second major challenge to the healthcare law – often known as Obamacare – since its passage.  “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion.

If the law had been overturned, 6.4 million Americans would have been at risk of losing aid.

The 2010 law set up a federally run insurance exchange where Americans who were not covered by employers or other U.S. health programs could buy health insurance.

_83865579_img_3952Opponents argue that a phrase included in the law, “established by the state,” demonstrated that the healthcare subsidies should have only been available for people in states that set up exchanges.

However, most Americans receiving subsidies purchase healthcare through the federal exchange after many states decided not to set up their own marketplaces.

The Obama administration argued that was a too-narrow reading of the law, which spans nearly 1,000 pages, and the rest of the legislation makes clear subsidies are intended for those who meet income requirements, regardless of which exchange insurance was purchased from.

Justice Roberts voted with liberal colleagues in support of the law. He was also the key vote to uphold it in a 2012 case. Justice Anthony Kennedy dissented in 2012, but sided with the majority on Thursday.

Justice Anthony Scalia’s wrote in his dissent that the Supreme Court is setting a precedent of favouring some laws over others.

“We should start calling this law SCOTUS care” Justice Scalia’s wrote. “Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of.”

The upholding of the law cements President Obama’s biggest legislative victory.

Continue reading “U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare””

#Obamacare Sign-ups Near 500,000 in 1st Week of 2014 Enrollment

obamacare

About half a million people selected a health insurance plan in the first week of the 2015 enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new federal report that underscores huge progress since last year, when website problems made signing up for coverage nearly impossible.

From Nov. 15 to Nov. 21, the Department of Health and Human Services announced, 462,125 people signed up for a plan through HealthCare.gov, the federally run insurance marketplace that serves 37 states nationwide.

Tens of thousands of additional people signed up for coverage on state-run marketplaces in the remaining 13 states, including California, Maryland and Connecticut, and the District of Columbia.  California reported last week that more than 11,000 people had selected plans in the first four days of open enrollment.

The HealthCare.gov total — which is split roughly evenly between new enrollees and people renewing coverage they had in 2014 — is a major advance from last year, when the website did not work for more than a month.

Just 106,000 people signed up for coverage in the first month of open enrollment last year.

This year, it appears that the site is working far better. Administration officials said Wednesday it had not crashed since it opened, though it had twice directed users to an online “waiting room” that is deployed when there is high volume or other technical issues with the site.

In total, more than 3.7 million users visited HealthCare.gov in the first week of the new enrollment period, according to the health agency.

And in another indication of improvement, wait times at call centers around the country averaged only a little more than three minutes.

Still, it remains unclear whether the Obama administration will be able to hit enrollment targets by the time the sign-up period closes in 2 1/2 months.

The tally released Wednesday counts only plan selections, not the number of people who have paid premiums, which is usually lower. Consumers have until the middle of December to pay in order to guarantee they have coverage starting Jan. 1. Continue reading “#Obamacare Sign-ups Near 500,000 in 1st Week of 2014 Enrollment”

Gallup Study Gives Obamacare A Thumbs-Up

US President Barack Obama gives the thumbs-up to a crowd WASHINGTON (AP) — A growing share of Americans got health insurance as sign-up season for President Barack Obama‘s health care law came to a close last month, a major survey released Monday has found.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index provides independent validation for White House claims that the law is expanding access, particularly for working people with no coverage on the job. But the improvement, while substantial, doesn’t appear as large as some of the numbers claimed by the law’s supporters.

Gallup found that the share of adults without health insurance shrank from 17.1 percent at the end of last year to 15.6 percent for the first three months of 2014.  The decline of 1.5 percentage points would translate roughly to more than 3.5 million people gaining coverage. The trend accelerated as the March 31 enrollment deadline loomed.

“The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as `Obamacare,’ appears to be accomplishing its goal of increasing the percentage of Americans with health insurance,” said Gallup’s analysis of the findings.

The survey is important because it combines the quick turnaround of media polls with extensive outreach usually seen in government research. Gallup interviewed more than 43,500 adults, or more than 40 times the number in a typical national media poll.  Coming a week after the close of the health care law’s first enrollment season, Gallup’s numbers suggest a more modest impact on coverage than statistics cited by the Obama administration.

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The administration says more than 7 million have signed up for subsidized private plans through new insurance markets. Additionally, 3 million previously uninsured people gained coverage through the law’s Medicaid expansion.  Millions more remain potentially eligible for marketplace coverage under various extensions issued by the administration. White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said this weekend on CBS that 200,000 people who had started applications but weren’t able to finish by the deadline got signed up later in the week.

Continue reading “Gallup Study Gives Obamacare A Thumbs-Up”

As Deadline Looms, Obamacare Has Already Led to Health Coverage for 9.5 Million

obamaWASHINGTON — President Barack Obama‘s healthcare law, despite a rocky rollout and determined opposition from critics, already has spurred the largest expansion in health coverage in America in half a century, national surveys and enrollment data show.

As the law’s initial enrollment period closes, at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage. Some have done so through marketplaces created by the law, some through other private insurance and others through Medicaid, which has expanded under the law in about half the states.  The tally draws from a review of state and federal enrollment reports, surveys and interviews with insurance executives and government officials nationwide.

The Affordable Care Act still faces major challenges, particularly the risk of premium hikes next year that could drive away newly insured customers. But the increased coverage so far amounts to substantial progress toward one of the law’s principal goals and is the most significant expansion since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

The millions of newly insured also create a politically important constituency that may complicate any future Republican repeal efforts.  Precise figures on national health coverage will not be available for months. But available data indicate:

• At least 6 million people have signed up for health coverage on the new marketplaces, about one-third of whom were previously uninsured.

• A February survey by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found 27% of new enrollees were previously uninsured, but newer survey data from the nonprofit Rand Corp. and reports from marketplace officials in several states suggest that share increased in March.

• At least 4.5 million previously uninsured adults have signed up for state Medicaid programs, according to Rand’s unpublished survey data, which were shared with The Times. That tracks with estimates from Avalere Health, a consulting firm that is closely following the law’s implementation.

• An additional 3 million young adults have gained coverage in recent years through a provision of the law that enables dependent children to remain on their parents’ health plans until they turn 26, according to national health insurance surveys from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• About 9 million people have bought health plans directly from insurers, instead of using the marketplaces, Rand found. The vast majority of these people were previously insured.

• Fewer than a million people who had health plans in 2013 are now uninsured because their plans were canceled for not meeting new standards set by the law, the Rand survey indicates.

Republican critics of the law have suggested that the cancellations last fall have led to a net reduction in coverage.

That is not supported by survey data or insurance companies, many of which report they have retained the vast majority of their 2013 customers by renewing old policies, which is permitted in about half the states, or by moving customers to new plans.

Continue reading “As Deadline Looms, Obamacare Has Already Led to Health Coverage for 9.5 Million”

The Newfound Success of Obamacare – More Than 6 Million Americans Covered So Far

ObamaCare-SuccessThe Obama administration announced on Tuesday that more than 6 million Americans have obtained health insurance through the new health care law, a major achievement for the president and his team, which has been sharply criticized for a sloppy rollout of “Obamacare” that included a website that barely functioned for weeks.

In the last three months, according to the administration, about 2.1 million Americans have enrolled in private health care plans through the law. Another 3.9 million have been determined eligible for either Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, both of which were expanded under the Affordable Care Act.

These numbers vindicated the administration, which had predicted that the struggles of October, when Americans across the country complained about the website, would not permanently harm the health care program. Only 106,000 Americans enrolled in private plans in October, far below expectations, but more than 1 million did in December. Administration officials had predicted enrollment would surge in December, as that was the deadline for purchasing insurance that would start by Jan 1.

Continue reading “The Newfound Success of Obamacare – More Than 6 Million Americans Covered So Far”