KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Late Surge In Obamacare Sign-Ups, White House Continues Push

With the deadline for most people on Monday, the administration says the website is dealing with heavy traffic.

USA Today: Interest In Health Care Surges As Enrollment Deadline Nears
Sunday evening, Health and Human Services announced 2 million visits over the weekend to HealthCare.gov, the federal government's enrollment site. ... Over the weekend, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appeared at a Baptist church in Miami to urge Floridians to sign up before the deadline. She plans a fresh round of television interviews with local stations Monday to boost enrollment numbers. ... "The traffic and energy and interest this weekend shows many more are interested in the coverage," White House spokeswoman Tara McGuinness said (Schouten and Kennedy, 3/30).  

Politico: Procrastinators: Obamacare Wants You
Leading up to the deadline, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, cabinet secretaries and other surrogates have done more than 300 radio interviews, attended 45 enrollment events and appeared in videos that have collectively gotten 33 million hits over the last six weeks, according to figures released to POLITICO by a White House official (Haberkorn, 3/30).

The Hill: White House's Final Push To Tout ObamaCare
The White House on Saturday said the effort to get Americans to purchase health insurance through ObamaCare was gaining “momentum,” posting pictures of lines forming at enrollment centers across the nation. In a blog post on the White House website, spokeswoman Tara McGuinness said that lines had started forming at 5 a.m. at one enrollment center in Miami. According to a White House official, supporters are holding over 550 enrollment events and activities this weekend in a last-bid push to sign up consumers for health care. ... White House officials also tweeted pictures of long enrollment lines around the country (Tummarello, 3/29).

ABC News: Obamacare Enrollment Deadline Will Test High-Profile Sales Pitch
LeBron James wants you to sign up for health coverage under Obamacare. So do Magic Johnson and Jonah Hill’s mom. Monday is (sort of) the deadline for Americans without employer-provided health coverage to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act — the White House extended it so that anyone who’s begun to sign up by Monday can still complete the process by April 7 — and the final enrollment numbers will be an important test for a law intended to expand access for the uninsured. It’ll also be a test for the White House’s high-octane sales pitch, one that’s involved celebrities, YouTube videos, and paid media (Good, 3/30).

Politico: Final Enrollment Weekend Marked By Near-Record Interest
The surge of consumer interest in Obamacare continued into the final weekend of open enrollment, as Obama administration officials kept up a frenzied outreach schedule. The once troubled HealthCare.gov appeared to be handling the traffic on Saturday without reliance on its online queuing system. Officials said the site handled 1.5 million visitors Friday — a near-record level — and reported no significant delays or problems. ... Some callers on Saturday were being diverted to a “waiting room” where they could leave their contact information so that they could be called back (Norman, 3/29).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Insurers Make Late Push To Sign Up Young Customers
Insurers are pressing ahead with a final marketing push to bring as many young, healthy customers as possible onto their rolls and buttress a recent surge in health-law enrollments. ... Highmark Inc., a major health plan based in Pittsburgh, said in recent weeks that it had seen a "marked increased" in enrollees younger than 34. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island said its fastest-rising segment in March has been people ages 22 to 40 (Mathews and Weaver, 3/28).

The New York Times: Repercussions And Reprieves At Health Insurance Enrollment Deadline
America’s health insurance marketplace closes on Monday night, the deadline for most people to obtain coverage or face a penalty. The confusion and uncertainty of the last six months appear likely to continue as consumers, including some who have never had insurance, begin using new policies for the first time. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions. ... The administration will also try to protect employees whose hours might be cut by employers eager to avoid the cost of providing health benefits. Officials have already indicated that they want to address complaints about high deductibles and “narrow networks” of doctors and hospitals in some health plan (Pear, 3/29). 

Politico Pro: Off-Exchange Enrollment Could Shore Up Risk Pools
The Obama administration’s tally of sign-ups for the federal health care law doesn’t include a key group that is likely to boost the total number of people — and the share of younger and healthier people — with Obamacare coverage. These are the people who are getting covered in new plans that live up to the new Affordable Care Act rules, but aren’t sold on the exchanges. The people buying them don’t qualify for the premium subsidies in the exchange, so they go directly to insurance companies or online brokers. ... federal health officials, insurers and health policy experts say that it’s likely to be a sizable group that tends to be more affluent and younger than the people in the exchanges (Norman, 3/29).

NPR: Latinos Wary Of All-Out Push To Sign Up For ACA
All throughout the country, supporters of the Affordable Care Act have worked to reach the uninsured, holding health fairs and putting ads on TV and radio. The push continues to get as many enrolled as possible, especially Latinos — the most uninsured group in the country. ... Undocumented immigrants aren't eligible for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but Obama's deportation of nearly 2 million of them during his presidency may have soured many Latinos' opinion of him (Corley, 3/29).

The Associated Press: Health Law Legacy Eludes Obama As Changes Sink In
As a roller-coaster sign-up season winds down, President Barack Obama's health care law has indeed managed to change the country. Americans are unlikely to go back to a time when people with medical problems could be denied coverage. ... Many basic facts about the ultimate effects of the health insurance program remain unclear. It's not known how many of those who have gotten coverage were previously uninsured — the ultimate test of the law. Independent measurements by Gallup do show fewer uninsured Americans, but such progress hasn't won hearts and minds (Alonso-Zaldivar, 3/29).

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