In This Edition:
From Kaiser Health News:
Despite fears of rising costs and fewer insurers on the health law’s marketplaces, consumers can find the best deals by carefully evaluating plans and checking out the fine print. (Michelle Andrews, 11/1)
Some major insurance companies are opting not to pay commissions for plans sold on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces. Will this decision make enrollment season more difficult for consumers? (Julie Appleby, 11/1)
New research tracks how the widespread availability of these high-powered medications is causing a high rate of hospitalizations for opioid poisoning among children. (Shefali Luthra, 10/31)
In 2015, the number of babies born in the U.S. before the 37th week of pregnancy increased by about 2,000 over the previous year. (Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, 11/1)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Hope And Change'" by Lisa Benson.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
NAVIGATING OBAMACARE’S OPEN ENROLLMENT
It’s easy to make
Mistakes. But careful shoppers
Dodge the trouble spots.
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.
Summaries Of The News:
The Wall Street Journal looks at what went wrong in Arizona. Meanwhile, outlets report on the start of open enrollment out of Texas, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Florida and California.
The Wall Street Journal: Inside The Affordable Care Act’s Arizona Meltdown
When Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces launched in fall 2013, Arizona seemed like a success. Eight insurers competed to sign up consumers, offering a wide variety of plans and some of the lowest premiums in the country. Today, with ACA enrollment starting Nov. 1, Arizonans will find in most counties only one insurer selling exchange plans for 2017. (Wilde Mathews, 10/31)
Arizona Republic: 'Obamacare' Enrollment Opens This Week In Arizona With Higher Costs, Fewer Choices
Thousands of Arizona residents who begin shopping for an Affordable Care Act health-insurance plan on Tuesday will find fewer options and higher costs compared with one year ago. Residents of every county in Arizona except Pima County will have one marketplace insurer offering plans, each with different coverage tiers. ... Despite less choice and higher costs that have been a talking point in political campaigns, experts encourage consumers to visit the marketplace's website, healthcare.gov, or reach out to an enrollment "assister" for more information during the three-month enrollment period that begins Tuesday. (Alltucker, 10/31)
Texas Tribune: Texas Residents Could Receive More Federal Aid To Pay For Costly Health Plans
As Texas consumers prepare for the fourth open enrollment to sign-up for or renew health insurance coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act, they face rising costs but could also receive more financial assistance. Beginning Nov. 1, Texas residents can go to Healthcare.gov, the federal health exchange website, to sign up for health plans available in their area. But the sign-up period comes after several health insurers — including Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, Scott and White and insurance start-up Oscar — have called it quits on the federal website. Texas consumers’ monthly health insurance bills could rise an average 25 percent, according to a federal Department of Health and Human Services report. (Evans, 11/1)
San Antonio Press Express: S.A. Help For Enrolling In Obamacare Starts Tuesday
Those seeking health insurance through the federal exchange can begin to sign up Tuesday, and Bexar County health organizations are hosting events throughout November to help residents enroll. The Affordable Care Act requires all Americans and legal residents to have health insurance. Enrollment for 2017 is open from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31, 2017. Enroll by Dec. 15 to secure coverage starting Jan. 1. (Martin, 10/31)
The Philadelphia Inquirer: Obamacare Signups Begin, With Fewer Choices And Higher Prices
In Southeastern Pennsylvania, the average Obamacare premium for a 50-year-old nonsmoker buying the most common benchmark plan is rising more than 50 percent, according to an analysis by Avalere Health. But in New Jersey, where coverage was much more expensive in past years, that average plan’s cost is rising just 5 percent. Unsubsidized premiums there will cost $111 a month less than across the river. (Sapatkin, 10/31)
Kansas City Star: KC Consumers Using The Affordable Care Act Insurance Will Be Paying More
Tuesday is the day tens of thousands of Kansas City-area consumers can begin signing up for 2017 health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act. ... But while almost all insurance customers — on the ACA marketplace and in the open market — will see cost increases or tighter benefits for 2017, “the person who gets subsidies won’t feel as bad as those who don’t,” predicted Ron Rowe, Blue KC’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. In fact, up to 90 percent of those nationally who do get subsidies, the Department of Health and Human Services points out, will see little or no increase in out-of-pocket costs for their coverage and will still be able to find insurance for less than $100 a month. However, that means taxpayers in general will make up for the higher subsidies needed to limit the premium increases. (Stafford, 10/31)
Kansas Health Institute: Marketplace Shoppers Likely To Find Higher Premiums, Deductibles For 2017
Kansas families who buy health insurance through the online marketplace for 2017 could pay $20,000 or more if they have serious medical problems, according to federal data. Most families likely won’t pay that much because they qualify for subsidies, but the information shows that even low-premium plans can become costly. KHI News Service used data from healthcare.gov to calculate the total costs for a family of four with two 40-year-old adults and two children in seven Kansas counties. Premiums would be different for other families based on age, number of family members and geography. Information isn’t available yet on plans offered by Medica, the newest insurer on the exchange in Kansas. (Wingerter, 10/31)
Pioneer Press: MNsure Open Enrollment Starting: What You Need To Know
Tuesday is the first day of Minnesota’s open enrollment period for the individual health care market. It’s a very unusual time, with the market in crisis. Even people accustomed to buying individual health insurance in recent years will find plenty of differences this time around. Minnesota’s individual market covers about 5 percent of Minnesotans — those who don’t have coverage from an employer or a government program. It includes those who buy coverage directly from an insurance carrier and those who go through the state-run MNsure exchange. (Montgomery, 10/31)
Pioneer Press: Abolish MNsure? Mark Dayton Says, ‘We’ll See How It Performs’
Minnesota’s state-run health insurance exchange could be eliminated if it doesn’t perform well in the upcoming open enrollment period, Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday. Dayton, who championed MNsure, told Minnesota Public Radio’s Tom Weber that eliminating MNsure, as Republicans want to do, is one of several “legitimate ideas” for improving Minnesota’s broken individual health insurance market. Asked specifically whether he supports eliminating it, Dayton laid down a challenge. “MNsure certainly has problems,” Dayton said. “We’ll see how it performs in the next couple months, in the open enrollment period. That will be real evidence of whether MNsure has gotten its footing and is providing the service that’s needed.” (Montgomery, 10/31)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Rates For Obamacare Plans Jump In Wisconsin
When the fourth open-enrollment period begins Tuesday, most people who buy health insurance on the marketplaces set up through the Affordable Care Act will see little, if any, change in their monthly costs. But the tens of thousands of people throughout the state who don’t qualify for federal subsidies — most of whom have already seen the cost of their health insurance jump in recent years — will be in for additional pain. They will pay the full cost of double-digit premium increases. Several insurers, including at least four in the Milwaukee area, are raising premiums by more than 20%. (Boulton, 10/31)
Kansas Health Institute: Missouri Takes Step To Hold Down Health Insurance Rates, But Will It Be Enough?
When individual health insurance plans go on sale on healthcare.gov Tuesday, many Missourians will probably be more than a little shocked to see some rate increases as high as 40 percent. Similar increases are popping up nationwide, but different states have different powers to address them. Take Oregon, for example. Each year around late April, insurance companies send the state their proposed rates, starting a conversation about what’s fair based on the cost of health care and the health of customers. (Smith, 10/31)
Health News Florida: Subsidies Soften Obamacare Premium Increases In Florida
Open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces begins Tuesday and the state says the average premium increase in Florida is 19 percent. But the news is not be as bad as it sounds for most consumers. More than 90 percent of Floridians who enroll in the marketplace receive government subsidies to cover monthly premiums. (Ochoa, 10/31)
Sacramento Bee: Covered California Executive Director Lee Talks About Obamacare, Millennials And Premium Increases
Starting Tuesday, Nov. 1, through Jan. 31, Californians who don’t have employer-based health insurance or Medicare can sign up for health insurance through the state’s marketplace, Covered California. That’s the easy news.As Covered California launches its fourth annual sign-up season under the federal Affordable Care Act, health care coverage is as contentious as ever, both in presidential debates and in national headlines. Covered California has already posted average premium increases of 13.2 percent, compared with a nationwide average of 25 percent. (Buck, 10/31)