KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

With Three Weeks To Go, The Sign-Up Push Is On

News outlets report on the creative outreach efforts, including those geared to moms, young people and Latinos, to increase the number of newly insured people before March 31. Even prison inmates are signing up.   

USA Today: 5 Things To Know For March 31 Health Exchange Deadline
Americans have until March 31 to sign up for health insurance or face a penalty when they file their 2014 taxes next April. Millions of uninsured people qualify for subsidies to pay for their insurance, but there are still — even after months of advertising, community meetings, door-to-door information sessions and even speeches by the president — many who don't know about the exchanges, don't know they're eligible for financial help, or who don't know the Affordable Care Act still stands. Others simply haven't gotten around to enrolling yet (Kennedy, 3/8). 

NBC News: Obamacare Supporters Beat The Bushes For Final Sign-Ups
The final deadline to enroll in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is less than three weeks away, and the White House and its allies are pulling out the stops to get more people signed up after one of the most disastrous debuts ever of a government program. The administration has rounded up every Democrat it can find -- mayors, county executives, state representatives as well as nonprofit groups whose main goal is to support Obamacare -– to spend Saturday pushing Americans to sign up for health insurance in a "Day of Action." In Atlanta, supporters will be in libraries. In Charleston, S.C, they're holding a waterfront enrollment fair. And in Houston, Spanish-language ads will urge the uninsured to show up at sign-up events staffed by Spanish speakers (Fox, 3/8).

Politico: Politico: Calling All Moms: It's Obamacare
Open enrollment ends March 31, and President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and top administration officials all have events this week that aim to reach America's moms, who typically drive health care decisions for their families — including the young adult children who are a key demographic for the new insurance exchanges. ... The pace of enrollment has picked up this winter as HealthCare.gov improved. More than 4 million people have chosen plans, although not all have begun paying their premiums. But the White House and its allies have a lot of work to do to hit the 6 million enrollment target by the end of the month. That mark was revised from 7 million after the website’s botched launch dampened sign-ups in the fall (Kenen, 3/9).

The New York Times: Little-Known Health Act Fact: Prison Inmates Are Signing Up
In a little-noticed outcome of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, jails and prisons around the country are beginning to sign up inmates for health insurance under the law, taking advantage of the expansion of Medicaid that allows states to extend coverage to single and childless adults — a major part of the prison population (Goode, 3/9). 

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Obamacare On Campus: Reaching The Young And Uninsured
Young adults may be key to the success of Obamacare. Insurance companies need a mix of ages, and a mix of healthy and sick people to balance out the costs for everyone – and young people tend to be healthier. But persuading them to sign up for health insurance is no easy task. Many don't know about the law, don't think they need coverage, or are confused about how to sign up (Feibel, 3/10).

Health News Florida: Signup Efforts Get Creative 
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 (Shedden, 3/7).

NBC News: After Obama's TV Plea, Will Latinos Enroll In Obamacare?
Signing up Latinos for health care has been a bumpy enterprise. With less than stellar enrollment for health coverage and just 3½ weeks before the signup deadline, everything is being tried to get Latinos' attention. President Barack Obama decided to appeal directly to Latinos via a live-streamed town hall this week that was to be broadcast on Spanish-language television networks Saturday, including on Telemundo, at 8 p.m. EST. "If you get in an accident or get sick, then the cost of health care without health insurance is so high that either you may not be able to get the treatment you need, or it could end up bankrupting you, losing your home, everything you have, all your savings," Obama warned (Gamboa, 3/8).

Los Angeles Times: California Drafts Labor Icon Huerta To Woo Latinos To Obamacare
With time running short to sign up for Obamacare, California officials have recruited labor activist Dolores Huerta to urge Latinos to get health insurance. The state's move comes amid struggles at enrolling Latinos, who represent about 60% of the state's uninsured population. Open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act ends March 31 (Karlamangla, 3/7).

The California Health Report: The Faces Of Obamacare In Humboldt County
In many ways, Jude Ehrlich is the face of federal health reform on the northern California coast. The good face, anyway. The 44-year-old McKinleyville man never used to have much trouble getting health insurance. He had employee-offered plans until 2000, when he started his own small business and purchased his own policy, which helped cover his treatments for psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, migraines and other health problems. But paying for the Blue Cross policy increasingly became a challenge, especially as his computer repair and consulting business slogged through the recession and his monthly insurance premiums steadily climbed to $400 (Greenson, Scott-Goforth and Walters,  3/6).

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