KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

IT Issues Pose Challenges For Health Law

News outlets also report on how other changes are affecting small business owners, hospitals and students.

Fiscal Times: Obamacare Glitch No. One: Verifying Eligibility
On Oct. 1, federal government IT specialists will fire up one of the most technologically complex government websites in history – one specially engineered to grant uninsured Americans access to a virtual market of affordable health insurance policies. And if all goes as planned, millions of people--from healthy millennials in their 20s and 30s to seniors with chronic health problems--will be able to compare the premiums being offered by a handful of insurance providers in their states, determine whether they qualify for a federal subsidy, and finally purchase a plan. As part of this “seamless,” one-stop shopping approach that President Obama has boasted about in speeches at the White House and around the country, applicants will have to enter some basic information about themselves -- their annual incomes, residency status and citizenship. Once that information has been entered, applicants will be presented with a number of potential plans and their premiums. After clicking one, a new window will open, routing the customers to the insurance company that offers the plan (Francis and Pianin, 7/22).

Kaiser Health News: Obamacare Delay Is A Relief For A Family Business
Like businesses across the country, Angelo's restaurant has been recovering from a miserable economy, a load of debt and a bottom line that until recently was the color of its special marinara sauce. So owner Michael Passalacqua probably speaks for many when he expresses relief about the decision to delay enforcing the Affordable Care Act's requirement for employer health insurance until 2015 (Hancock, 7/22). 

The Los Angeles Times: Healthcare Overhaul Leads Hospitals To Focus On Patient Satisfaction
For years, the check-in process in the urgent care center of this city's large, downtown hospital was reminiscent of a visit to the DMV. The ailing and sick walked in, pulled a number, took a seat and waited to be called. Many grew impatient and exasperated. Now, patients at San Francisco General Hospital are greeted by a smiling face and a helping hand to guide them along the path to getting care. It's one of a series of customer-friendly touches being added at the 156-year-old institution by a newly named "chief patient experience officer." ... Under the national healthcare overhaul, patient experiences matter. Federal payments are being tied to surveys that gauge patient attitudes about such things as a hospital's noise and cleanliness, communication and pain management (Gorman, 7/20).

The Los Angeles Times: National Healthcare Reform Sparks Concern About Scams
The national health reform law is expected to open the door for identity theft and insurance scams when millions of uninsured Americans begin enrolling in coverage this fall, officials and advocates warn. The Federal Trade Commission said dozens of consumers have reported fraud since last summer's Supreme Court ruling upholding the law, and officials predict widespread abuse when enrollment begins in October (Gorman, 7/20).

The Wall Street Journal: Student Health Plans Boost Coverage And Price
Student health-insurance plans are getting better—and pricier. Under the Affordable Care Act, the minimum annual benefits limit of such plans will jump to $500,000 for the 2013-14 school year, up from $100,000 in 2012-13. And the cap will disappear for the 2014-15 school year. Also starting next year, student plans can't exempt pre-existing conditions and will be expected to cover the same 10 essential benefits as other individual health plans, including prescription drugs, preventative services and mental-health care. But the plans cost more, too (Blumenthal, 7/21).

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