Health Insurance Applications Top 1 Million in First Week Enrollment

Affordable Health Care Act enrollment

Affordable Health Care Act enrollment

According to the federal government, the first week of the “Affordable Health Care Act enrollment” period brought in 1 million applications. The huge number of applications indicates that the government’s HealthCare.gov website was functioning better than last year. In 2013 a number of technical issues hampered some people finding the right insurance policy for them.

The secretary of health and human services, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, suggests the numbers are positive but more work needs to be done, saying: “We are off to a solid start, But we’ve got a lot of work to do every day between now and Feb. 15.”

This enrollment period ends on February 15. The HealthCare.gov website operates as an insurance exchange for 37 states, while the remaining states have their own state-based exchanges.

The Affordable Care Act has been widely criticized by conservative politicians in the United States, who intend to wind back the changes. The question that needs to be answered is “does it work?”. The data indicates that many people who were previously not eligible for health insurance can now obtain it. So in terms of people with chronic conditions, it’s clearly working.

The number of people who have managed to buy insurance has also greatly increased. There are some questions about the cost of the insurance plans and the efficiency of the insurance exchanges to provide the best deal.

The total enrollment for federal and state exchanges was 6.7 million by mid-October. 3.7 million of those users enrolled using healthcare.gov. The federal government is hoping to have more than 9 million enrolled by the end of 2015.

Americans Without Health Insurance Drop

Uninsured Rate Drops

Uninsured Rate Drops

A new survey indicates that the number of Americans without any form of insurance has dropped dramatically since the introduction of the Affordable Healthcare Act by the Obama administration. That includes millions who have never had health insurance before.

In the last quarter of 2013 the number of adults that lacked coverage was 18% and that figure dropped to 14.7% in the last part of March. That equates to about 8 million people gaing health insurance since September last year. That also adjusts for cancellations of policies that may have occurred when the new laws forced the removal of plans that did not meet the legislation’s requirements.

The poll was conducted by Gallup, who have a long history of monitoring the state of health care in the United States, including the progress of Medicare and Medicaid. The results are a slap in the face to pundits who said the law has not done anything to increase participation in health insurance.

According to Gallup researchers – “The uninsured rate has been falling since the fourth quarter of 2013 … a sign that the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, appears to be accomplishing its goal of increasing the percentage of Americans with health insurance coverage,”

Under the Affordable Healthcare Act, insurance companies could no longer turn away sick individuals who may have had pre-existing conditions. Many of the newly insured may in fact be people who could not find insurance previously.

Under the act, in many states low income Americans could also sign up for Medicaid coverage for the first time. The survey doesn’t even cover the full extent of the increase in the number of insured because many Americans gained coverage before September.

An estimated 3 million children gained the coverage of their parent’s health care plans which they retain until they turn 26.

The number of uninsured has always been relatively high in the United States, but it became worse under the George W Bush administration as the economy slid into recession and many people could no longer afford it, or lost their employment.

It may in fact be a number of years before we know the full impact of the Affordable Health Care act, as people adjust their insurance plans and decide on what level of coverage they think is appropriate. There is a distinct possibility that many of the new signatories to health insurance may not remain covered for more than a couple of years and instead return to the pool of uninsured.

In some states certain provisions like the Medicaid changes are also being rolled out late, so there will be a boost to the insured rate there in the coming months. Additionally, many people who began applying for insurance coverage by March 31 may not have actually completed their application and have until April 15 to do so. There could be many more thousands who jumped in at the last minute and will not show up in the insurance figures yet.

Gallup said this may result in another drop to the uninsured rate in the 2nd quarter of 2014.

According to the survey, the greatest gain to the insured rate was in African, Latino households who could suddenly access cheaper health care plans. Households earning less than $36’000 a year also demonstrated a large gain in insurance rates. They were all groups that the Obama administration did expect large gains in, so they have come to fruition.

Gallup isn’t the only poll reflecting these gains with recent polls by the Times and Rand Corp also showing a drop in the uninsured rate.

Health Insurance Enrollment Deadline Soon!

Health Insurance Deadline Approaches

Health Insurance Deadline Approaches

The March 31 enrollment deadline for obtaining a private health insurance plan is now only a few weeks away! That means if you wish to purchase a subsidized health insurance policy and avoid any penalties, you should make sure you obtain health insurance as soon as possible.

There is a hotline set up (1-800-318-2596) for applicants who have questions about the process as well as providing a number of details on the https://www.healthcare.gov/ website. The website also provides a simple state selector so you can visit the insurance marketplace in your state: https://www.healthcare.gov/marketplace/b/welcome/.

Most states have launched advertising campaigns to urge people to enrol for health insurance now and obtain those cheaper plans. Subsidies are available for people earning between 100% and 400% of the poverty rate – the exact figure depends upon your state and selected insurance plan.

If you are having issues understanding the insurance requirements, any medical facility will be able to point you in the direct of a local insurance broker or “insurance navigator” who is a trained social worker.

After March 31, applicants for a private policy must wait until Oct. 1, the start of the enrollment window for 2015 coverage. People on Medicaid do not face a deadline and can apply at any time.

Recent figures have seen health insurance application rates explode, with thousands of people rushing to enroll before the cutoff date. So far 4.2 million people have enrolled across the country via government portals, with 1.14 million of those happening in January and 0.94 million in February. Between October 2013 and the start of March this year, over 430’000 people enrolled in Washington. In Idaho over 40’000 people have used the state website to purchase health insurance, a good figure given their lower population and pre-existing insurance levels.

Nearly 300’000 Texans have bough insurance on the marketplace since October 1, a rate lower than expected. The state has one of the lowest insurance rates in the country and a state senator who is strongly against the healthcare plan from Barack Obama.

Most Uninsured Americans Say They Will Get Insurance

Obamacare Deadline Approaches

Obamacare Deadline Approaches

In a new poll by Gallup, most uninsured Americans indicated that they would get insurance rather than pay a fine. 55% of uninsured Americans said that they would prefer to pay insurance premiums rather than a fine, slightly down from the 63% from last fall.

Gallup has been tracking uninsured American’s attitudes towards insurance and particularly “Obamacare”, also known as the Affordable Health Care Act, that aims to get more people onto health insurance. The polling group talked to more than 1500 uninsured adults in February to obtain these figures.

Gallup says the demographic of people who are in the uninsured group of Americans is constantly changing, so it’s views reflect a wide variety of financial situations, ages and attitudes. The people who have been in the uninsured category for the longest are the most reluctant to acquire insurance themselves.

The attitude of most Americans towards the Affordable Health Care Act is still mostly negative and some Americans who refuse to purchase insurance are doing so because they object to the insurance act and the law’s requirements. Other Americans are just becoming increasingly disparaging about insurance products on offer and their cost. It’s not surprising given that there are so many stories about insurance companies refusing to pay claims.

The number of uninsured Americans is going to continue to decline as we approach the March 31 insurance deadline set out under Obamacare. Individuals will have to pay a fine if they do not obtain insurance before this date.

Gallup suggests that most people are going to be obtaining their insurance from insurance exchanges, where you can often get greater value for money. However in Gallup’s polling many people who looked into insurance exchanges had a negative experience, perhaps why they remained in the “uninsured” demographic.

Once we have reached the March 31 deadline it should be much clearer how Americans have taken to the new health care plan implemented by President Barack Obama and the white house.

Obamacare Blamed for Health Insurance Cost Increase

Obamacare

Obamacare

A new report claims that the newly rolled out “Obamacare” health reforms is being blamed for some health insurance cost increases that it has nothing to do with. There have been some issues with the Obamacare rollout, but new research indicates that some parties are incorrectly blaming Obamacare for price increases on their insurance products.

Research indicates that nearly half of the Americans with higher incomes in the $50’000-$75’000 and employer health insurance believe that Obamacare has somehow made them worse off. 46% of the people in this salary bracket say that they are now paying more in out of pocket expenses than they were a year ago.

However insurance industry analysts suggest that this cost increase is actually insurance companies simply charging more and using Obamacare as a scapegoat. Some people are seeing out of pocket expenses like their copay for doctors visits going up rapidly and by as much as 30% in the last year alone. Analysts suggest this is simply insurance companies attempting to get more money out of insured parties to improve their bottom line.

Some cost increases are kicking in before Obamacare has even impacted them. For example the top of the line health insurance plans are blaming a clause in Obamacare which sees the tax rate change to 40% on these types of plans. The plans are being hiked up in cost now to cover this expense, but in reality the cost increase won’t happen until 2018, so the insurance companies are simply price gouging for additional profit on those plans.

With insurance companies acting in this way, it’s no wonder that support for the Obamacare reforms is slipping away. One recent poll indicates that only 38% of people are in favor of keeping the reforms. That is compared to polls a few months ago that indicated 46% support for the reforms.

Critics of the scheme had admitted that some of the worst case scenarios they thought might happen have not come to pass. Despite that the public sentiment is increasingly negative.

A recent survey also found 52 percent of women with employer-based coverage report higher out-of-pocket expenses, compared to only 35 percent of men. This is most because insurance companies were previously allowed to charge women more for insurance than men. Gender discrimination is prohibited under Obamacare, so those statistics are set to change after January 1.

Some analysts are concerned that consumers are unable to assess the Obamacare reforms on their actual merit because of the behavior of some insurance companies.