KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Community Health Centers Face Tough Competition For Newly Insured

A center in the District of Columbia is challenged by a regional hospital system when trying to attract low-income patients who are now insured under the health law. Other media outlets report on a study showing that the chances of getting a doctor's appointment vary depending on what type of insurance a consumer has, and other implementation issues .

The Washington Post: MedStar Faces Tensions With Community Clinics Over Primary-Care Expansion In District
For a quarter-century, Mary's Center, a community health center in Adams Morgan, has served patients too poor to be treated elsewhere. Like many other safety-net providers which are required by the government to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay, the center has struggled constantly for money. So officials were looking forward to the opening of the new health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act: More patients with coverage would bolster the bottom line. To attract more young professionals and families, they decided to offer walk-in services for problems such as strep throat and sprained ankles. But in November, regional hospital giant MedStar Health opened a pair of clinics two blocks away offering just those services — and wide-screen TVs to boot  .... The tension is an unintended consequence of the health-care law, which has set off an intense competition for a growing number of privately insured patients, who tend to be the best-paying customers (Sun, 4/7).

Reuters: Doctor Appointment Availability Varies By Insurance Type
People's chances of getting a new primary care doctor vary depending on their insurance, according to a new study. Researchers calling doctors' offices and claiming to be a patient with private insurance had about an 85 percent success rate for getting appointments (Seaman, 4/7).

In other news about the health law's implementation -

The Fiscal Times: Health Insurance: 14.5 Million To Get Massive Increases
The price of health insurance premiums on plans purchased outside of the federal and state exchanges are much higher than expected, a survey of brokers found. A proprietary survey of 148 brokers conducted by Morgan Stanley analysts revealed the largest acceleration in small and individual group rates in the survey’s history, Forbes contributor Scott Gottlieb of the conservative American Enterprise Institute first noted. The survey found that the prices for off-exchange plans in the small group market increased by an average of 11 percent, while off-exchange plans on the individual market increased by an average of 12 percent. Analysts noted that the prices tended to vary by state, with some states showing increases 10 to 50 times that amount, Gottlieb wrote (Ehley, 4/8).

Politico: Obamacare's Next Obstacle: Confusion As People Use It
Obama administration officials hoping to exhale after the big finish to Obamacare's first enrollment season may need to hold their breath a while longer. All the confusion and mixed messages out there are bound to combust if people decide they were misled — an echo of the "you can keep your plan if you like it" fiasco (Villacorta, 4/7).

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