KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

HHS Warns Of Early Hiccups As It Premieres Insurance Website

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is asking the public and press to be patient as the law unfolds.

The Washington Post: White House Shows Off Web Site to Buy Health Insurance Under Obamacare
The Obama administration on Monday showed off the federal Web site, Healthcare.gov, where millions of Americans starting Tuesday will be able to buy coverage under President Obama's health-care law, promising it will be open for business despite congressional battling and widespread reports of computer problems. People seeking to buy health insurance on the federal marketplace will be able to enter personal information, including their incomes and Social Security numbers; learn how much government assistance they might qualify for, if any; search for plans by price and coverage level; and then purchase a plan directly from the insurance company (Somashekhar and Sun, 9/30).

USA Today: HHS Puts Final Touches On Exchange Sites Before Launch
Starting at 8 a.m., visitors to healthcare.gov, the federal government's health care website, will be able to navigate how to shop for and buy health insurance as part of the law, [HHS Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius said. … The stakes for the health exchanges are high, and there have been some stumbles on the way. In July, the administration acceded to the wishes of business groups and delayed the requirement that employers with more than 50 workers provide health insurance to their employee or pay a fine. Businesses had complained the tax and insurance requirements were too complicated and difficult to implement in time for the Jan. 1. deadline (Kennedy, 10/1).

The Associated Press: Consumers Will Need Personal Details, Financial Info, Basic Insurance Knowledge To Get Covered
Getting covered under President Barack Obama's health care law might take you more than one sitting. In a media preview, it felt like a cross between doing your taxes and making an important purchase that requires research. "Nothing like this has ever existed before," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/1).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Marketplace Shoppers Must Pay 1st Premium By Dec. 15
When consumers start shopping for coverage through new federally run health insurance exchanges on Tuesday, they will be asked dozens of questions before they are shown what health plans are available and how much they cost. Then, to finalize their enrollment, they must contact the private insurer and pay their first monthly premium. If enrollees don’t pay their insurer by Dec. 15, they will not have coverage that takes effect Jan. 1, federal health officials said Monday. If they miss that first deadline, however, open enrollment runs through March 2014 (Galewitz, 9/30).

CQ HealthBeat: HHS Officials Envision Glitches Without Rollout But Say The Law Will Vastly Improve Benefits
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reiterated Monday that the rollout of the health exchanges on Tuesday will have snafus, but she said that the agency will work quickly to fix them and that consumers' experience will improve over time. Behind the scenes, insurance industry sources said technical glitches, including back-office problems in completing enrollment transactions and in providing accurate rate information, continue to be common (Adams, 9/30).

Politico: Sebelius: Be Patient With Obamacare
On the eve of Obamacare's launch --and an increasingly likely government shutdown -- HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is pleading for patience with the rollout of the massive new entitlement program. Sebelius again stressed that Tuesday, the first day people can sign up online for Obamacare coverage, is just the start of a six-month open enrollment period representing a massive change to the health insurance landscape. "Oct. 1 is not the end of anything. This is the beginning," Sebelius said in a Monday afternoon meeting with more than two-dozen health reporters at HHS headquarters (Millman, 9/30).

Meanwhile, a new poll is out that some health law advocates might view as an encouraging sign --

Politico: Poll: Most Will Get Health Insurance
Asked whether they plan to get insurance when the requirement takes effect or pay the fine for not doing so, 65 percent of uninsured Americans said they would get health insurance, according to a Gallup poll out Monday. Twenty-five percent said they would pay the fine. Gallup also asked about the whether those individuals planned to use the exchange markets that launch Tuesday to buy their insurance. Almost half, 48 percent, said they planned to use the exchanges, 36 said they did not and 17 percent weren't sure (Kopan, 9/30).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.