KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Consumers Should Pay Attention To Changes In Health Plans During Enrollment Season

Several news outlets look at aspects of the health overhaul and its effects on consumers.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "As enrollment packets for insurance benefits begin to land on workers' desks or arrive in the mail, pay attention: This is not the year to simply renew last year's choices without studying the options. The first baby steps of the nation's health care overhaul have taken effect. That means most insurance plans will change, at least slightly, when renewed. 'A lot of times people don't understand all the changes going on around them,' said Ingrid Lindberg, customer experience officer for CIGNA, the insurance company. 'Really, truly understand what your employer is offering you this year.' Some consumers who need to be especially alert as the paperwork arrives include: those who use flexible spending accounts for medical expenses, parents of uninsured adult children under age 26, parents of kids with pre-existing conditions and anyone who plans to get preventive care in the coming year. Everybody needs to study the costs: Most Atlanta companies and most employees will pay more for health care again next year" (Teegardin, 10/2).

The Associated Press: "The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan started this summer isn't living up to expectations. Enrollment lags in many parts of the country. People who could benefit may not be able to afford the premiums. Some state officials who run their own 'high-risk pools' have pointed out potential problems. 'The federal risk pool has definitely provided critical access, in some cases lifesaving access, to health insurance,' said Amie Goldman, chair of a national association of state high-risk insurance pools. 'That said, enrollment so far is lower than we would have expected.' Goldman runs the Wisconsin state pool, as well as the federal plan in her state. California, which has money for about 20,000 people, has received fewer than 450 applications, according to a state official. The program in Texas had enrolled about 200 by early September, an official in that state said. ... Government economists projected as recently as April that 375,000 people would gain coverage this year. ... 'We don't think this is getting off to a slow start,' said Jay Angoff, director of a new insurance oversight office at the Department of Health and Human Services. 'We think this is getting off to a good and orderly start'" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/3).

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