Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—October 11, 2013.
“We’re continuing to see strong interest in the Health Insurance Marketplace. We have greatly reduced, and even eliminated, wait times at the registration stage, and more people are actively shopping and comparing plans. We know that buying insurance is a thoughtful decision and many consumers are taking their time to consider their options before making a decision. We have more than 170 days left to go and people have until December 15 to apply for coverage starting January 1, 2014. We won’t stop improving HealthCare.gov until its doors are wide open, and at the end of the six-month open enrollment, millions of Americans gain affordable coverage.” – HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters
Interest in HealthCare.gov continues to be high, both for its educational materials and the application for health coverage. In the first ten days, the site has received 14.6 million unique visits.
Thanks to the continued hard work of technical experts, there are improvements every day to consumers’ experience in applying and enrolling in coverage.
To improve access to the system, overnight maintenance has significantly cut down on time people wait before accessing the website.
This week we have made new tools available for consumers to find out about their options or sign up. This week we innovated a new pathway for consumers to sigh-up over the phone. We have also updated our tools to help consumers preview of how much they will likely pay for health care. They can get an estimate of costs and savings in two steps:
o First, they can check out a savings calculator which can give consumers an estimate of how much they may save.
o Second, consumers can check out the plans in their county to see how much they cost before any savings from tax credits.
Additionally, consumers can access the Marketplace by phone or through in-person assistance. We have reduced call center wait times to seconds, not minutes, and since last weekend, people can apply and enroll over the phone. Consumers can use the Find Local Help feature on HealthCare.gov to find people in their communities who are trained to explain coverage options and facilitate enrollment.
We have continued our aggressive, sustained push to inform consumers of their new health coverage options. Secretary Sebelius this week was in Tampa talking with community leaders and a local Navigator about the enrollment efforts underway in Florida. And in Pittsburgh, Secretary Sebelius kicked off an education and enrollment event with retired Steelers players, community college faculty, and local leaders. These are just two examples of the hundreds of education.
What they’re saying:
Surowiecki: “Obamacare may well be the best thing Washington has done for American small business in decades.” To begin with, it’ll make it easier for people to start their own companies—which has always been a risky proposition in the U.S., because you couldn’t be sure of finding affordable health insurance. Even more important, Obamacare will help small businesses with health-care costs, which have long been a source of anxiety. [The New Yorker, 10/14/13]
Fischer: Gov. Jan Brewer said Wednesday that she does not want U.S. House Republicans to succeed in their bid to shut down the Affordable Care Act, saying it would “devastate” the state budget. Brewer said she has never been a fan of “Obamacare.’’ And she pointed out she was among several governors who sued — unsuccessfully — to have it declared unconstitutional. But the governor said once it was clear the law would take effect, she sought ways to have Arizona take advantage of a key provision rewarding states that expand their Medicaid programs. [Capitol Media Services, 10/10/13]
Becker: Nearly a third of the initial applicants to Access Health CT, the state’s new health insurance marketplace, are under 35, CEO Kevin Counihan said Tuesday. And of all the applicants, most have selected the so-called silver or gold plans, which have higher premiums and cover a larger share of medical costs than the lower-cost bronze plan options. [Connecticut Mirror, 10/8/13]
Americans are enrolling, learning more about their options in the health insurance marketplace
Reid (Guest Op-Ed): “Obamacare saved my family from financial ruin.” Mason spent most of eighth grade in the hospital. In the six months he was hospitalized, he spent 65 days in the pediatric intensive care unit. He underwent four brain surgeries. Halfway through his hospitalization, the Affordable Care Act was passed, alleviating lifetime limits on coverage and saving us from the financial abyss. [The Washington Post, 10/9/13]
Weaver: At $62 a month in direct costs to him, the plan, offered by managed-care firm Health Net Inc. is “a great deal,” said Leslie Foster, a 28-year-old freelance filmmaker in Hollywood, California. Because he earns only about $20,000 a year doing freelance videography and odd jobs, Mr. Foster qualifies for federal subsidies that cut deep into the premiums for health plans available in the new marketplaces. [The Wall Street Journal, 10/7/13]
Powers: “I’m very thrilled with it. It covers all sorts of stuff” said Daniel McNaughton, a 22-year-old Valencia College student in Orlando. He ultimately settled on a Florida Blue policy that — after the federal subsidy he qualifies for — will cost him $70 a month. “I can tell there’s a lot of stuff they have to iron out. But overall, it was better than I expected it to be,” he said. [Orlando Sentinel, 10/6/13]
Domrzalski: “I was very pleasantly surprised,” said Michael Cadigan, owner of the four-person Cadigan Law Firm. New Mexico’s small business exchange signed up 435 companies and 853 of their employees during its first four days, the exchange said. [Albuquerque Business First, 10/11/13]
Stewart: “It’s a great deal. I’m thrilled to have coverage, period,” said Sherburne, who was previously shut out of affordable insurance due to a pre-existing condition, a shoulder injury. “Once I got onto the site it took about an hour, start to finish.” After plugging in particulars about his family of five, Salt Lake City business owner Phil Sherburne was able to compare 38 plans and apply for tax credits to put toward his monthly premiums. He settled on a silver-level plan from Altius that retails for about $850 a month. After tax credits, the Sherburnes will pay just $123 a month. [The Salt Lake Tribune, 10/10/13]
Secretary Sebelius Traveled to Tampa and Pittsburgh to Continue Outreach and Enrollment Efforts
Wiggin: “I had nine children, some of them had diabetes and lupus. I was able to help them. But there are many folks out there who don’t have the same wherewithal,” said Ambassador Dan Rooney at an event Thursday with Secretary Sebelius at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. At the event, people who were uninsured asked questions about the Affordable Care Act of trained assistants. In an interview with WTAE-ABC4, Secretary Sebelius said, “Up until now, there has been a lot of misinformation about what the law is, and what it does. We are finally at the point where we can say to people, ‘Don’t listen to me and certainly don’t listen to the other side. Check it out for yourself.'” [WTAE-ABC4, 10/11/13]
Delano: “It’s extremely important for me,” North side native, LaKesha Lowry says. “Now that I’m uninsured, it is very difficult for me.” Certified application counselors were on-hand to answer questions about the health insurance options now available to un-insured Pennsylvanians or those looking for cheaper insurance. [KDKA-CBS, 10/11/13]
WPXI-NBC: “This is very important. I’m very pleased to do it, and to be a part of it. I know it will be successful,” said Ambassador Dan Rooney. Before the speeches started, several people arrived to get information about the act and to sign up. Representatives were on hand to get people logged on and get them the needed information. [WPXI-NBC, 10/11/13]
Wagner: There are a lot of people who can benefit in the Pittsburgh region — about 188,000, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said. “Let’s put that in perspective … We could fill up Heinz Field twice, and PNC Park and Consol Energy Center and still not reach that number. … They are our neighbors, our families, our friends, the people that sit next to us at church or at the synagogue or at the temple, people we serve with on the PTA or at the Rotary Club. In fact, it’s a lot of us,” said Fitzgerald. [Beaver County Times, 10/11/13]
Bradshaw: About 200 members of the community, volunteers … elected officials and health care advocates gathered indoors at Heinz Field on Thursday to speak with experts about enrolling in the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Health Insurance Marketplace is a website that residents of Pennsylvania and more than 30 other states have been able to use since Oct. 1 to register for health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. [The Pitt News, 10/11/13]
Stockfisch: “I’m really excited because this prospect of finally being able to get insurance through the marketplace is great,” said student Savanah Goodland, at an event Tuesday with Secretary Sebelius at University of South Florida in Tampa. Savanah also discussed waiting tables on a broken foot that she could not afford to treat. “I had to rely on Google and YouTube and luck to get better,” she said. [The Tampa Tribune, 10/8/13]
McLaughlin: When asked about the opposition Obamacare faces from Florida’s Governor and legislature, Sebelius pointed to local leaders like Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn who are on board. [ABC Action News Tampa, 10/8/13]
Bursch: During the panel discussion, Sebelius heard from a navigator who helps people apply for insurance at a USF location. Michelle Ray says consumers are grateful for both the insurance and the advice. “Not hollow at all; it was truly heartfelt,” Ray says of the thanks. “There were tears going out the door. People were happy.” [Bay News Nine, 10/8/13]
Tillman: Sebelius on Tuesday repeated earlier calls for the state Legislature to take the federal money — $51 billion over a decade — for Medicaid. “The offer is on the table,” she said. Joining her were Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, two college students who plan to shop for coverage on the exchange, and Jodi Ray, who runs a USF-based organization that received federal dollars to train and hire “navigators” to help people sort through their marketplace options.[Tampa Bay Times, 10/8/13]
Pogorelc: Jill Hanken, a health attorney at the Virginia Poverty Law Center, said that outreach by her organization, which also received a grant to recruit navigators, has not slowed down despite the glitches. “This actually gives us a little bit of extra time to provide educational information so people are more prepared to file their applications,” she said. [MedCityNews.com, 10/9/13]
Viebeck: Restrictions on ObamaCare outreach in Tennessee were dealt two legal blows this week in a sign that similar statutes may not pass muster in court. A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked Tennessee from enforcing some of its emergency rules restricting the activity of ObamaCare outreach workers, according to reports.[The Hill, 10/9/13]
Kugler: An Obamacare ambassador in Florida said she spent the first week of the health care law’s rollout just explaining basic insurance terms to eager participants. “I thought that as a navigator I would be working with people with disabilities or who needed extra help or didn’t have a computer or Internet,” said Lynne Thorp, the Obamcare Navigator Project director for southwest and Gulf central Florida, on Melissa Harris-Perry Saturday. ”As it’s turning out, everybody is needing help understanding the marketplace in general, and many people have never had insurance before. So common terms like ‘deductible,’ ‘co-pay’ and ‘maximum-out-of-pocket’ are really confusing.” [MSNBC, 10/7/13]