Battles Have Reduced Health Law's Impact For Consumers

Politico looks at the how the law squares with what it promised and talks to consumers in Kentucky about their expectations. Also, the Wall Street Journal examines one of the tactics health insurers are using to keep healthy customers.

Politico: Obamacare: One Blow After Another
The Obamacare that consumers will finally be able to sign up for next week is a long way from the health plan President Barack Obama first pitched to the nation. Millions of low-income Americans won't receive coverage. Many workers at small businesses won't get a choice of insurance plans right away. Large employers won't need to provide insurance for another year. Far more states than expected won't run their own insurance marketplaces. And a growing number of workers won't get to keep their employer-provided coverage (Haberkorn and Budoff Brown, 9/23).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Insurers Scramble to Keep Healthy Customers
Health insurers are making a big push to hang onto their policyholders ahead of new government-run exchanges expected to roll out next week, but state regulators have accused some of misleading those customers in the process. Several insurers, including Humana Inc. and some Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, have recently warned customers of big rate hikes if they don't immediately renew their policies for 2014. But some of those customers may be able to find cheaper policies on the insurance exchanges launching under the new federal health law (Martin, 9/23).

Earlier related KHN coverage: Insurers' Efforts To Delay Health Law Compliance Could Affect Premiums, Benefits For Millions (Appleby, 4/15).

In other news on the law's policies and impact --

The Philadelphia Inquirer/Kaiser Health News: What Consumers Really Want From An Obamacare Plan
It doesn't have the inherent drama of a space launch countdown, but in T-minus nine days, America will embark on a voyage into the vast, unexplored regions of the health-insurance marketplace. Actually, those regions aren't that unexplored. Insurers have been running consumers through simulated exchanges for the last several years. While insurers may not be completely comfortable with how things unfold after Oct. 1, they do have a pretty good idea about what coverage consumers want and what they will pay for it (Calandra, 9/23).

Kaiser Health News/The Chicago Tribune: Swapping COBRA For Obamacare Likely To Be Windfall For Big Business
Health-law provisions taking effect next year could save U.S. employers billions of dollars in expenses now paid for workers who continue medical coverage after they leave the company, benefits experts say (Hancock, 9/23).

Bloomberg: Young Invincibles Caught In Crossfire Over Obamacare Cost
Steven Binko is young, healthy and recently unemployed. He doesn't see any reason he should be required to buy health insurance next year. Since losing his job at an Olive Garden restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida, the 25-year-old said he can't afford to buy health care on his own (Armour, 9/24).

Des Moines Register: Hatch Asks Feds To Reject Health Premiums
An Iowa lawmaker is urging the federal government to reject a key part of Iowa's proposed health care program for the poor, a week before it is to start being implemented. State Sen. Jack Hatch is suggesting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services decline to let the new Iowa program charge premiums to people who fail to undergo yearly checkups or take other steps to improve their health (Leys, 9/24).

Newshour: Businesses Weigh Bottom Line Of Health Reform's Employer Mandate
Next, we return to the impact of the new health care reform law -- tonight, how employers are preparing to comply with new rules that require them to insure their employees. Even though some portions of the mandate have been delayed, many employers remain frustrated. NewsHour's economics correspondent, Paul Solman, looks at the bottom line for different business owners, part of his Making Sense of financial news (Solman, 9/23).

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