New Consumer Conundrum: To Buy Insurance Or Pay The Penalty

Media outlets report on a range of health law implementation issues -- including how medical homes might be helpful in treating the newly insured as well as an analysis of the whether the health law's penalties for not buying insurance have enough bite.

Marketplace: Will You Buy Into Obamacare Or Pay The Penalty?
There's a lot of concern about how much it will cost to buy health insurance on the new exchanges coming online later this year. Some states are predicting double digit increases in premiums. But beginning next year, if you don't have coverage, you’ll pay a penalty. The individual penalty under the Affordable Care Act is $95 or one percent of your income, whichever is greater. So if you earn $40,000, you'd pay $400. That's a fraction of what insurance will cost for most people (Gorenstein, 4/30).

Kaiser Health News: Yes, Virginia, There Is A Medical Home
One of the persistent questions about the Affordable Care Act is how are so many people, new to insurance, going to get quality health care when the system seems so strapped already. The law does have an answer to that: the medical home. But it is not a concept that is widely understood yet. St. Francis Family Medicine near Richmond, Virginia is, like many medical practices in America, evolving into a medical home, where health care services are coordinated to manage each patient's care (Hausman, 5/1).

Additionally, more reports on the revised application form for health law benefits -

The Associated Press: Laying Bare Your Finances To Apply For Health Care
After a storm of complaints, the Obama administration on Tuesday unveiled simplified forms to apply for insurance under the president's new health care law. You won't have to lay bare your medical history but you will have to detail your finances. An earlier version of the forms had provoked widespread griping that they were as bad as tax forms and might overwhelm uninsured people, causing them to give up in frustration (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/30).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: A Shorter Exchange Application. But Is It Simpler?
Consumer advocates have been complaining for months that the Obama administration's 21-page application to sign up for health insurance in the exchanges is too long and complicated. The designers of the application estimated it would take 45 minutes to complete. The administration heeded the advocates' pleas with the introduction Tuesday of a modified application of just 3 pages for individuals who are not offered health coverage from their employer (Gold, 4/30).

And, in related developments from Capitol Hill -

The Washington Post: GOP Bill Would Force Federal Workers Onto Health-Care Exchanges
A new Republican House proposal would push federal workers off their employer-sponsored health plan and onto the insurance exchanges being established under the Affordable Care Act. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced the bill Friday after talk on the Hill that Democrats were trying to exempt members of Congress and their staffs from a provision in current law that requires them to enroll in the exchanges in 2014 (Hicks, 4/30).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.