Affordable Care Act

Affordable Care Act
8:56 am
Thu March 20, 2014

While Obamacare Signups Lag in Texas, Travis County Keeps Up Momentum

A field organizer with Insure Central Texas speaks to staff at an Austin tattoo parlor in the last few days before the March 31 deadline to sign up for health insurance.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Less than two weeks remain for people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Local groups are ramping up their efforts to remind people it's time to sign up or pay a tax penalty. And with little time left, groups working to sign people up for health insurance are branching out to find every last person they can.

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Affordable Care Act
3:42 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Nearly 300,000 Texans Now Have Health Insurance Through Federal Marketplace

In February 2014, almost 90,000 people in Texas enrolled in a health care plan through the federal marketplace. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (pictured) has visited Texas often to promote the Affordable Care Act.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

More people in Texas are enrolling in private health insurance through the federal marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act. But hundreds of thousands remain uninsured in the state that leads the nation in the percentage of uninsured.

In Feburary, almost 90,000 people in Texas enrolled in a health care plan through the federal marketplace. That brings the total number of Texans enrolled to close to 300,000 since Oct. 1.

Most of those enrolled are between 55 and 64 years old. Roughly 10 percent are 18 to 25. The system depends on healthy, young people to sign up in order to help defer the costs of covering older people. 

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Affordable Care Act
7:23 am
Sat March 8, 2014

Reaching The Young And Uninsured On A Texas Campus

Nobody plans to wind up in the emergency room, but costly accidents happen — even to healthy young people.
Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 9:55 am

At lunchtime on the North Harris campus of Houston's Lone Star Community College, students stream through the lobby of the student services center, plugged into their headphones or rushing to class.

Many walk right past a small information table about the Affordable Care Act.

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Affordable Care Act
4:50 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Even Texans With Health Insurance Struggle to Afford It, Study Suggests

Texas still has the highest rate of uninsured people in the U.S. The Health Reform Monitoring Survey-Texas report says even some people with health insurance are struggling to pay for it.
healthcare.gov

Texas still has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country, about one in four, and a new survey, the Health Reform Monitoring Survey-Texas report, suggests even some people with health insurance are struggling to pay for it.  

The report looked at how Texans were feeling in September about health care and insurance just before the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace launched. Vivian Ho, an economist with Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, helped produce the report. She says they're trying to measure the impact of the health care law in Texas.

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Affordable Care Act
7:44 pm
Sat February 8, 2014

Refugees in Texas Face Hurdles Signing Up for Obamacare Plans

Pastor John Monger, top right, worries about refugees understanding the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

This story is a result of a partnership with the Austin-American Statesman’s Tim Eaton and Kelly West. You can find more at Statesman.com.

By the end of March,  all people in the U.S. legally must have health insurance – or pay a tax penalty next year. That includes refugees, who often lack the English skills to understand the ins and outs of the insurance system.

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Affordable Care Act
7:27 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

No Medicaid Expansion Leaves Thousands of Texas Women in 'Coverage Gap'

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Governor Perry’s decision not to accept federal expansion of Medicaid in Texas means 687,000 women will be left in a "coverage gap," according to a report by the National Women’s Law Center. Those women are too poor to qualify for Medicaid, but don’t make enough money to be eligible for subsidies on the federal health insurance exchange. 

Medicaid eligibility standards in Texas are among the strictest in the nation. A parent in a family of three must make less than $3,737 annually to qualify (19 percent of the federal poverty level), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Adults without dependent children are not eligible for Medicaid in Texas. 

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Affordable Care Act
7:40 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

It's Official: Texas OKs Extra Rules, Training for Obamacare Navigators

Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber listened to testimony at a public hearing on proposed rules for health insurance navigators in Austin on Dec. 20, 2013.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Texas now has extra requirements for Affordable Care Act navigators who help consumers find their way around the federally-run health insurance marketplace. 

Beginning at the end of 2013 and lasting through early January, the Texas Department of Insurance listened to public testimony and received more than 300 pages of written comments on the proposed rules.

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Affordable Care Act
8:32 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Despite Increased Enrollment, Online Spanish Sign-Up Faces Challenges

Ovidio Jesus Garcia, left, gets help from Gigi Veliz at Foundation Communities' Insure Central Texas location at Highland Mall on Jan. 14, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Almost 120,000 Texans signed up for health insurance through the federally run marketplace through the end of last month, but it’s only a small fraction of the state’s total uninsured population.

And enrollment of Latinos, a group targeted by the Obama administration has had its challenges.

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Affordable Care Act
12:12 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Faith-Based Alternatives To Obamacare Are Taking Off In Texas

Shutterstock

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 10:30 am

Under Obamacare, nearly every American has to have health insurance or pay a penalty. One of the few exceptions is for people who are members of what’s called “health care sharing ministries.” The two largest sharing ministries – Samaritan and Medi-Share – have both nearly doubled their membership in Texas since the Affordable Care Act.

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Affordable Care Act
3:35 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Testimony Begins on Proposed Texas Rules for Obamacare Navigators

Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber listened to testimony at a public hearing on proposed rules for health insurance navigators in Austin on Dec. 20, 2013.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Lawmakers and members of the public testified on new Texas-only rules for the Affordable Care Act on Dec. 20 in Austin.

The new rules would restrict who can become a health insurance "navigator" under the Affordable Care Act. These proposed rules have caused controversy: critics say they're meant to impede the success of the federal health care law, whereas supporters say they will teach navigators how to safeguard consumers' information.

The Texas Department of Insurance wrote the proposed rules to regulate navigators. They're already required to go through a federal training before they help people sign up for insurance through the new federal healthcare exchange.

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Affordable Care Act
11:01 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

How to Find, Comment On Proposed Texas Rules for Health Insurance Navigators

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promoted the Affordable Care Act and federal health insurance exchanges in Austin on Aug. 8, 2013.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect the proposed rules from the Texas Department of Insurance.

You may have heard the term navigators lately – they’re the volunteers who can help people sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

They go through an online federal training to learn how to help people navigate the federally-run marketplace, though they can't tell anyone which plan to buy. Earlier this year, a number of agencies in Texas received almost $11 million collectively to pay for their training.

Now the Texas Department of Insurance has written proposed state rules that would add 40 hours of training and require a background check for navigators.

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Affordable Care Act
3:57 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Microsoft Executive Will Now Run HealthCare.gov

Kurt DelBene, former president of the Microsoft Office Division, talks about Microsoft Office 365 at a news conference in San Francisco, in 2010.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:49 am

The Obama administration announced on Tuesday that former Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene will take over the operation of the troubled HealthCare.gov website.

DelBene will take over for Jeff Zients, who was appointed by President Obama to rescue the site after it launched with crippling problems. Zients, who Obama had turned to in the past to fix sticky issues, had made it clear that he was not going to stay on the job past December.

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Health Care
8:11 am
Wed December 11, 2013

14,000 Texans Signed Up for Obamacare Plans

The Obama administration says technical tweaks to the health care website are making it easier for Americans to sign up for insurance.
healthcare.gov

Early technical issues with the new healthcare marketplace, HealthCare.gov, brought serious criticism to an already controversial government initiative. But a new report published by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services suggests that the tides may be turning for Obamacare.

By the end of November, coverage plan enrollment numbers for Texans had jumped to 14,000 – that’s up from 3,000 the month before.

And many more Texans are on their way to enrolling. According to the same report, nearly a quarter of a million Texans have applied for coverage and are waiting to choose a Marketplace plan. Those numbers are actually the second highest in the nation for states that are supported or fully run by a federal (rather than a state-implemented) healthcare Marketplace.

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Affordable Care Act
10:27 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Oregon Shines On Medicaid, As Texas Stalls On Sign-Ups

Kyle Thompson and his family are all going to have health coverage in Oregon, thanks to the state's successful effort to enroll people in Medicaid.
Kristian Foden-Vencil

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 6:29 pm

Oregon might be seen as a complete failure or a surprising success when it comes to its health insurance exchange.

One the one hand, the state's website has yet to allow a single person to enroll. That's a big problem for the folks who are hoping to qualify for subsidies and buy insurance that will start Jan. 1.

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Affordable Care Act
5:00 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Effect on Texas Consumers Unclear as Obama Delays Health Insurance Plan Cancellations

President Barack Obama’s decision to allow insurance companies to continue offering policies that would be canceled under the Affordable Care Act has an unclear affect on Texans.
Filipa Rodrigues

President Barack Obama’s decision to allow insurance companies to continue offering policies that would be canceled under the Affordable Care Act has an unclear effect on Texans.

In an announcement today, the President said he is leaving it up to states and state insurance commissioners to decide if consumers can keep these plans through 2014.

In a written statement, Texas Governor Rick Perry said the decision makes a bad situation worse, by creating more confusion for consumers. John Davidson with the Texas Public Policy Foundation agrees.

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Affordable Care Act
10:54 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Obama Moves To Delay Cancellations Of Insurance Plans

President Barack Obama speaking at the White House on Thursday.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 12:18 pm

President Obama announced Thursday that Americans who have had their health insurance plans canceled because of his Affordable Care Act can keep those plans for another year if they wish.

Those cancellations — most effective on Jan. 1 — have sparked intense criticism of the ACA, in part because the president pledged many times that if Americans liked the health plans they had, they wouldn't have to give them up under the terms of his program.

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Affordable Care Act
4:02 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Under 3,000 Texans Sign Up for Insurance on Obamacare Website

Fewer than 3,000 people in Texas signed up for health plans in the first month of enrollment through the Affordable Care Act website, according to data released today [PDF] by the Health and Human Services department.

Other Texas findings in the data:

  • 11,682 Texans were determined to be eligible for CHIP and/or Medicaid through the federal health care marketplace, HealthCare.gov.
  • Almost 54,000 Texans actually completed applications. Those applications would cover more than 108,000 individuals.
  • Most of those applicants – over 80,000 – are eligible to enroll in a health insurance plan available through the federal marketplace– but they haven’t done so yet.  
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Affordable Care Act
10:10 am
Wed November 13, 2013

HealthCare.gov's Mystery Lady Says She's Been Cyberbullied

HealthCare.gov

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 12:21 pm

The woman whose smiling face adorned the HealthCare.gov website in the first days after its launch has stepped forward to tearfully address those who she says cyberbullied her as they took potshots at the Obama administration's troubled online health exchange.

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Affordable Care Act
7:11 am
Tue November 12, 2013

How Obamacare Supporters Are Enrolling Texas Latinos

Jill Ramirez, director of Austin's Latino Health Care Forum, speaks to Latinos at an Oct. 5, 2013 car show about the federally-run health insurance marketplace.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

A push to get people to buy health insurance through the federal marketplace has included plenty of visits from federal officials.

Last week, President Barack Obama told an audience of volunteers in Dallas that affordable health insurance is a pretty big deal in this state.

"There’s no state that actually needs this more than Texas," President Obama says. 

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Affordable Care Act
2:00 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Texas Drafting Extra Requirements for Obamacare Navigators

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott renewed his call for more consumer protection and privacy requirements for Obamacare navigators this week.
Bob Daemmrich, flickr.com/thetexastribune

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has renewed his call for additional training and privacy requirements for “navigators” that help Texas consumers sign up for health insurance through the federally-run Affordable Care Act marketplace.

This week, Abbott wrote a letter to Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber asking her department to draft new privacy standards. In August, Abbott and 12 other attorneys general sent a letter citing privacy concerns to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

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