KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Marketplace Enrollment Efforts Set To Move To Center Stage

Reuters examines whether there will be a sign-up surge, while other outlets look at efforts to prepare for the opening of the online insurance marketplaces next month.

Reuters: Obamacare Customers May Show Up In Fits And Starts
Will Obamacare's launch look more like Black Friday, when U.S. shoppers flood retail stores for bargains the day after Thanksgiving, or April 15, when procrastinators wait until nearly midnight to file their taxes? Officials involved in implementing President Barack Obama's healthcare law, academics who study health insurance and benefits experts interviewed by Reuters expect a little of both, with a graph of enrollment timing to be shaped like a lopsided W (Begley, 9/17).

ABC News: 5 Things To Know About The Healthcare Insurance Exchanges
One of the largest components of Obama's healthcare overhaul will go into effect in just a couple of weeks. But according to a recent Pew Research Center/USA Today survey, just a quarter of those surveyed have a very good understanding of how the law will impact them. People will be able to purchase health insurance through "exchanges" -- some of them run by the federal government, others by the states, and still others by a federal-state partnership. The law requires uninsured people to get insurance, but the survey found that uninsured people were actually the least likely to know that. That's especially true when it comes to young people. Here are five things everyone should know about the healthcare insurance exchanges (Deruy, 9/16).

Georgia Health News: Top Questions (And Answers) About The Exchange
Just two weeks remain until the opening of enrollment in the health insurance exchanges, a key component of the Affordable Care Act. Much misinformation and confusion has accompanied the run-up to the Oct. 1 start of open enrollment in the exchange, also called a marketplace. To help our readers understand this new coverage option, Georgia Health News asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a list of frequently asked questions about the health insurance exchanges. Here is the agency’s list of FAQs – and their answers (Miller, 9/17).

The Washington Post: Maryland Reveals Prices For Small-Business Plans On New Health Insurance Exchange
Maryland insurance officials have approved premium rates for plans to be sold on the state's small-business health insurance marketplace, which will open at the start of next year, according to an announcement Tuesday (Harrison, 9/17).

The Baltimore Sun: Maryland Approves Premiums For Small-Business Insurance Exchange
Small businesses buying health coverage for their employees through a new state insurance marketplace could pay anywhere from 5 percent less to 15 percent more in premiums next year under rates Maryland regulators approved Tuesday. The Maryland Insurance Administration approved rates that were as much as 17 percent lower and up to 9 percent higher than what 13 carriers, many of them multiple subsidiaries of the same owner, had proposed for sale on Maryland Health Connection (Dance, 9/17).

St. Louis Beacon: Dueling Town Halls For And Against Obamacare Illustrate The PR Battle Now Underway
More than 600 people packed the auditorium Tuesday night at Maryville University to hear Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones and other speakers lay out, in general, their opposition to Obamacare and their frustration that the federal health insurance changes have yet to be killed. ... A few miles away, another Affordable Care Act question-answer session was held staffed by volunteers with Organizing for Action, a pro-Obama group that’s trying to get a positive spin out to the public. Fewer than two dozen people attended (Mannies, 9/18).

North Carolina Health News: Efforts To Educate Public About Affordable Care Act Gear Up
Enroll America’s newly hired state director, Sorian Schmidt, said her organization is focusing on talking about the health insurance marketplaces. "Our research is that 78 percent of the uninsured don't know what's coming with health reform and the new marketplaces," Schmidt said. "They don't know how they'll interact with them." Schmidt's organization is part of a national effort to inform people about the changes that are coming associated with implementation of the Affordable Care Act (known as Obamacare) that gets more fully underway this fall (Hoban, 9/17).

The Hill: ObamaCare Activists Say Outreach Working
Groups working to promote ObamaCare said their efforts are making headway despite polls showing the public still in the dark about healthcare reform.  Enroll America President Anne Filipic said her group has seen a drop in confusion about the law both in surveys and on the ground since the end of last year (Viebeck, 9/17).

And in Medicaid expansion news -  

The Washington Post: Most States With Few Insured Citizens Aren't Expanding Medicaid Under Obamacare
States whose citizens are most likely to be uninsured are also more likely than not to refuse extra aid under the president's health-care law. Six of the 10 states with the lowest rates of coverage have no plans to expand low-income aid under Obamacare, according to an analysis of new Census data. Meanwhile, eight of the 10 states with the highest rates plan to allow the expansion (Chokshi, 9/17).

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