Cleaning out the inbox: A mishmash of ACA items
Insurance experts say it's hard to know how many people opted to forego insurance and take a tax penalty and now have decided they want insurance, and also how many simply failed to sign up in time and now regret the decision.
But confusion over the new health law, also known as Obamacare, kept some from enrolling, health insurance experts say.
Some people thought they didn't have to meet the new health law's deadline because they didn't qualify for a premium subsidy from the federal government, said Carrie McLean, director of customer care at eHealthInsurance.com, a private Web-based insurance broker. Others thought that only people who wanted to purchase insurance through Covered California, the state's health benefit exchange, had to do so by March 31, she said.
And, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey in March, more than 60% of those without health coverage were unaware of the enrollment deadline for most people to sign up for individual health coverage.
Now they're stuck with a tax penalty, and no matter how much money they have to spend on insurance premiums, they can't buy a comprehensive, major medical policy until the next open enrollment in November. And in the meantime they can be turned down for pre-existing conditions by alternative plans.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates between 3 million and 3.5 million new people signed up for health insurance either through insurance companies or brokers in March.
It estimates a total of 15 million people now have individual insurance through the private market.
Under ObamaCare, people had to have insurance by the end of March to avoid a tax penalty next year. The administration eventually extended this deadline to the middle of April to give people more time to sign up for plans.
The administration has said 8.1 million people signed up for an ObamaCare plan by the beginning of April.
Kaiser’s findings suggest that the number of people purchasing health insurance grew even accounting for people who saw their existing plans canceled because of new requirements under ObamaCare.
Democrats have found a big piece of Obamacare that nearly all factions of their party can back — and they say it’ll be a winning issue on the campaign trail this fall.
Even some of the Democrats running for reelection in red states are embracing the Affordable Care Act’s optional Medicaid expansion and, along with their compatriots, pressuring Republican governors and legislatures to do the same.
This growing support to expand Medicaid comes as Democrats feel increasingly comfortable touting the health care law, a slow change buoyed this spring by the positive news of Obamacare’s 8 million enrollees.
...Moreover, polls show that Medicaid expansion could provide a big political boost. It’s far more popular than Obamacare itself.
“We’re going to have, for the first time in a little while, Democrats in vulnerable states and safe states all speaking with one voice in part because of the political momentum growing behind Medicaid expansion,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), the Senate Democrats’ point person on health care messaging, told POLITICO in an interview.
...“Having cowered in a corner for a good part of the last four years, it’s hard to change your behavior,” he said. “It’s hard for people to immediately pivot from being on the defense in the fall [as HealthCare.gov crashed] to being on the offense. The news went from terrible to great in an instant, and sometimes it’s hard for your strategy to catch up.”
The HHS has cited the lack of an online component in the SHOP enrollment process on Healthcare.gov as one reason it has yet to release any data on the number of small businesses that have enrolled in the Affordable Care Act’s federal SHOP marketplace.
Without the automated online enrollment system, CMS is unable to gather enrollment data itself, but will instead collect enrollment information from insurance companies.
The HHS has repeatedly denied knowing when SHOP enrollment numbers will be available, but on background from one HHS official, the agency doesn’t anticipate having SHOP enrollment data until later this year.
The process of collecting that data from the insurance companies is still being finalized, according to the official.
The uninsured rate is 13.4 percent for the second month in a row, after dropping from 17.1 percent at the end of 2013, according to new Gallup data. In other words, the uninsured rate is 22 percent lower now than it was before Obamacare. Skeptics have argued that most Obamacare enrollments are people with cancelled plans, but it's hard to ignore the fact that an estimated 11 million people gained insurance during a nationwide push to enroll people. At the very least, Obamacare helped.