Affordable Care Act

Marcie Sillman interviews KUOW health reporter Ruby de Luna about some of the changes the Washington state Health Exchange has made. Last year more than a million Washington state residents signed up for health insurance through the Washington Health Plan Finder website.  Saturday is the first day of open enrollment. People need to sign up or renew their health care plans by February 15, 2015. 

Exactly one year ago, the Obamacare insurance exchanges stumbled into existence. Consumers struggled to sign up for its online marketplace — and the Obama administration was pummeled. Eventually, HealthCare.gov's problems were mostly fixed, and two weeks ago, the administration announced 7.3 million people have bought insurance through it so far this year.

So, was the health exchanges' first year a success — or something less?

Ask President Obama, and he says you measure the Affordable Care Act's success this way:

Mobile Medical
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

About twice a month, King County’s Mobile Medical van comes to Renton. It opens at 4:30, but it’s often slow until closer to 6:30, when the church across the street begins serving hot meals for homeless people.

The inside of this RV has been retrofitted so there’s an exam room, a nurse’s station and a waiting area.  A generator gives off a droning buzz as it powers this efficient little clinic.

The leaders of Oregon's struggling health insurance exchange will be grilled by state lawmakers in a series of hearings at the capitol on Monday and Tuesday.

Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Free contraceptive coverage is mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

But in the landmark Hobby Lobby decision last June, the Supreme Court ruled that closely held corporations are exempt from the law if the owners object on religious grounds.

On a recent afternoon at his office in Hartford, Conn., Dr. Doug Gerard examines a patient complaining of joint pain. He checks her out, asks her a few questions about her symptoms and then orders a few tests before sending her on her way.

For a typical quick visit like this, Gerard could get reimbursed $100 or more from a private insurer. For the same visit, Medicare pays less — about $80. And now, with the new private plans under the Affordable Care Act, Gerard says he would get something in between, but closer to the lower Medicare rates.

If you have a dispute with a government agency, chances are, your complaint will go through a process called an administrative hearing. These hearings usually haven’t attracted public attention — until recently.

Last October, Seattle Children’s Hospital challenged the Office of Insurance Commissioner for allowing health plans to exclude providers like Children’s from their networks.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is reminding employers they may not discriminate against same-sex spouses when it comes to health coverage.

More than 700,000 Texans have signed up for a health plan through the online insurance marketplace. For that group, the Affordable Care Act appears to be working.

But an even larger number of Texans — one million or more — still have no access to affordable coverage because Texas officials opted out of a federal plan to expand Medicaid for the poorest adults.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Carrie Feibel of KUHF explains.

How To Make The Affordable Care Act Better

May 7, 2014
Ezekiel Emanuel's book "Reinventing American Health Care."

Steve Scher talks to Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel about his book “Reinventing American Health Care.”  Dr. Emanuel was previously a health care adviser to the White House.

Flickr Photo/Sara Westermark (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter and producer Kristian Foden-Vencil about  Oregon's troubled health exchange website, Cover Oregon.

Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kriedler.

Marcie Sillman checks in with Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler about a new rule that will mandate increased transparency for plans offered on the Washington state health exchange.

The finger-pointing is underway now that the state of Oregon has decided to scrap its troubled health insurance exchange website.

Giving Up On Its Obamacare Exchange No Cure For Oregon's Ills

Apr 27, 2014

Oregon has been "all in" on health reform. Its embrace of the Affordable Care Act includes a very successful Medicaid expansion, a $2 billion federal experiment to show the state can save money by managing patients' care better, and, of course, the state's own online marketplace to sell Obamacare insurance.

But that last point has been a huge problem.

Courtesy of International Community Health Services

This week the White House honored community heroes for their work in educating and signing up Asian American and Pacific Island residents for health care.

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