KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Consumers, Employers Face New Round Of Health Coverage Challenges, Decisions

News outlets offer consumer tips for using healthcare.gov and take a look at where things stand in terms of obtaining coverage as of Jan. 1.  

The Washington Post: Consumer Tips For Healthcare.gov Show Administration's Cautious Optimism
The Obama administration on Sunday reported vast improvement with the HealthCare.gov health-insurance portal that opened with extensive glitches in October, while acknowledging that the site still needs more work. One sign of ongoing problems came in the form of a blog entry and infographic that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius published on Huffington Post. Both items provide tips for consumers visiting the site, most notably by encouraging them to use it during off-peak hours — mornings, nights and weekends (Hicks, 12/2).

Kaiser Health News: With Three Weeks Left, Consumers Fear They May End Up Without Health Coverage On New Year’s Day
For people in the states with well-functioning insurance websites, such as California, New York and Kentucky, this appears to leave plenty of time. But making the deadline could be dicier for people in Arizona and the 35 other states where the federal website healthcare.gov is the path to coverage, as well as Oregon and Hawaii, which have struggled to get their sites functioning. On Sunday, the government reported progress in improving healthcare.gov, saying the site now allows more than 800,000 visits a day with the rate of timeouts or crashes reduced to below 1 percent. Officials said repairs continue (Rau, 12/2).

And for employers -

The Washington Post: New Health-Care Law Pushing Employers To Make Tough Decisions About Coverage
For years, Ron Peppe spent much of his time poring over contracts that his company, Canam Steel, won to build steel infrastructure in highways, stadiums and hotels, such as the underground steel foundation it just completed for the new Marriott Marquis in downtown Washington. These days, Peppe, the head of legal and human resources at Canam, whose U.S. headquarters are in Point of Rocks, Md., still reads plenty of contracts. But he is also spending much more time reading the ongoing deluge of rules and regulations coming out of federal agencies that are meant to help guide employers as they adjust their companies’ health benefits under President Obama’s signature health-care law, the Affordable Care Act (Ho, 12/1).

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