KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Monday’s Deadline To Buy Coverage Leaves Many Scrambling

People who want policies in place by Jan. 1 face a deadline today, but a series of changes in how the health law is being implemented has complicated the process for consumers and insurers.

Kaiser Health News: Health Insurers Scramble Toward Jan. 1 Coverage Deadlines
Insurance companies selling through the health law’s troubled online marketplaces are scrambling to provide coverage by Jan. 1 even as swarms of customers are still enrolling and making their first payments. ... Medical plans, with potentially billions in revenue at stake in the health law's expansion of private coverage, have hired extra workers to run phone banks and tangle with paper applications that were supposed to be processed online. They've assigned staff to pore through electronic enrollments that might be inaccurate or incomplete, or to remind customers to pay (Hancock and Appleby, 12/20).

The New York Times: Mixed Messages Add Anxiety As Deadline Nears In Health Act
For most Americans, Monday is the deadline to sign up for health insurance that takes effect on Jan. 1. It was supposed to be a turning point in the troubled history of the new health care law, the moment when the spotlight would shift from the federal government's online marketplace to the insurance companies providing coverage to hundreds of thousands and eventually millions of people. But as the date approaches, a series of decisions by the Obama administration to delay some of the law's most important provisions and to extend some deadlines has caused uncertainty among insurers and confusion among consumers (Pear, 12/21).

USA Today: Monday Marks Key Health Care Deadline
Monday marks the last day to sign up through the federal and state health exchanges to have insurance coverage beginning Jan. 1. And while government officials said the federal site, HealthCare.gov, can handle a last-minute rush of consumers, there's still fear that the word may not be getting out to the people who most need to enroll (Kennedy, 12/22).

Politico: Countdown For Obamacare Signups
The White House has been on a December dash to get people to sign up for health coverage by Monday, the first critical enrollment deadline for Obamacare -- and the last sign-up opportunity for people who want their new health benefits to kick in on New Year’s Day. The White House spent the past three weeks trying to move past the double-barreled disaster of the botched healthcare.gov website and the millions of canceled health plans. The website now works, although not perfectly. Many of the people who received cancellation notices have found alternatives, though some are still scrambling to get health coverage by Monday (Cheney and Villacorta, 12/22).

The Washington Post: Federal Officials Seek More Time For People To Enroll In Health Care
President Obama expressed confidence Friday that "a couple million" Americans will have new health coverage as of New Year’s Day. But behind the scenes, federal health officials have been pressing the insurance industry to give people more time to sign up. According to insurance industry executives, federal officials have been asking health plans to provide insurance starting Jan. 1 even for customers who sign up after a looming deadline on Monday (Goldstein and Eilperin, 12/20).

The New York Times: Weighing Health Plans: The Devilish Details 
Picking a plan and estimating your outlays is a complicated and tedious task. Here are some factors that can influence how quickly you reach your out-of-pocket maximum, as well as specifics on deadlines and other recent changes (Bernard, 12/20).

The Associated Press: Health Law Sign-Up Deadline Arrives
Today is the last day to sign up for federal health exchange insurance if people want their coverage to start in January. Officials have already pushed the deadline back a week and it's still unclear whether everyone who wants to enroll will actually be able to because of lingering problems with the federal website (Kennedy, 12/22).

CBS News: Last-Minute Scramble On Critical Obamacare Deadline Day
Efforts range from the practical – a big message on HealthCare.gov that tells people they should enroll by Monday to ensure their coverage starts on time – to the creative: the District of Columbia government dispatched someone from its health exchange, DC Health Link, to one of the city's gay clubs to sign people up. After the rocky rollout of the Affordable Care Act's federal exchanges, which led to very low enrollment numbers in the first month, the administration has been actively seeking ways to ease the sign-up process ahead of the Dec. 23 deadline (people will be able to enroll in the federal exchanges until March 31 to avoid paying a penalty) (Kaplan, 12/23).

Reuters: Obamacare's Signup Deadline On Monday Has Its Exceptions
For most Americans who don't have health insurance, Monday is the deadline to sign up for coverage starting on January 1 under President Barack Obama's health care law. For others, it's not a deadline (Cornwell and Rampton, 12/23).

Bloomberg: Insurers Balk At Obamacare Concessions As Risk Pool Thins
Americans have more time to pay for their new Obamacare health plans, thanks to the insurance industry. What they don’t have is more time to sign up (Wayne and Nussbaum, 12/23).

McClatchy: Obama Touts Health Insurance Enrollment Spike As Deadline Looms
President Barack Obama said Friday that more than 500,000 Americans had obtained health insurance through the healthcare.gov website in December and "tens of thousands" were enrolling each day as the Monday deadline for selecting insurance that’s effective Jan. 1 fast approaches. The surge in sign-ups on the troubled federal website and continued strong activity on state-run marketplaces have pushed combined enrollment under the Affordable Care Act to more than 1 million people, Obama said at his hourlong final news conference of the year (Pugh, 12/20).

And a CNN poll says only 35 percent of Americans support the health law --

CNN: CNN Poll: Health Care Law Support Drops To All-Time Low 
Support for the country's new health care law has dropped to a record low, according to a new national poll. And a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicates that most Americans predict that the Affordable Care Act will actually result in higher prices for their own medical care. Only 35% of those questioned in the poll say they support the health care law, a 5-point drop in less than a month. Sixty-two percent say they oppose the law, up four points from November (Steinhauser, 12/23).

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