Trials And Tribulations Of Expanded Health Coverage

News outlets report how, as the overhaul "chips away" at the nation's number of people without insurance, the law's solutions to the problem often come with challenges of their own.  

The New York Times: Looking At Costs And Risks, Many Skip Health Insurance
Steve Huber, an affable salesman who is still paying off an unexpected medical bill, was not among the millions of Americans who signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act during the enrollment period that ended March 31. After seeing television ads for Kentucky’s new online insurance marketplace, Mr. Huber, 57, made several attempts to explore the website but found it too complicated. Moreover, his income has dropped in recent years, he said, and he felt certain that he could not afford coverage. So he never priced plans or researched whether he qualified for financial assistance (Goodnough, 4/21).

The Associated Press: Affordable Care Act Only Chips Away At A Core Goal
Swan Lockett had high hopes that President Barack Obama’s health overhaul would lead her family to an affordable insurance plan, but that hasn’t happened. Instead, because lawmakers in her state refused to expand Medicaid, the 46-year-old mother of four from Texas uses home remedies or pays $75 to see a doctor when she has an asthma attack (4/21).

Kaiser Health News: Waiting For Medicaid To Kick In
For most of Teresa Martinez’s life, buying health insurance has been out of the question. She works at a Koreatown hair salon, earning about $10 per cut – not nearly enough to afford private coverage. With a long list of ailments including dizziness, blurry vision and leg pain, she eagerly applied last year for a county program that would cover her for free until Obamacare set in (Gorman, 4/21).

The Washington Post’s The Fact Checker: Spinning Obamacare Success: The President Highlights A Less Relevant Number
The Fact Checker was on break last week, but did manage to pass a TV set that aired images of the President’s announcement on April 17 that 8 million people had signed up for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. We were struck by a headline in the TV ticker that amplified the president’s message that 35 percent of the enrollees were younger than 35. Why is that important? The “young invincibles” are considered a key to the health law’s success, since they are healthier and won’t requires as much health coverage as older Americans. If the proportion of young and old enrollees was out of whack, insurance companies might feel compelled to boost premiums, which some feared would lead to a cycle of even fewer younger adults and higher premiums (Kessler, 4/22).

Fox News: Congressional Budget Office Projections On Obamacare Raise Questions About Future Enrollment
President Obama and other officials like to point to projections by the Congressional Budget Office to show that ObamaCare "is working," as the president put it. He said 8 million have enrolled in the federal exchanges, but the CBO said in a recent report only 6 million are newly insured and some say even fewer than that did not have prior insurance…That is why the CBO showed that at the end of this year, there will still be 42 million uninsured and 31 million without insurance ten years from now (Angle, 4/22).

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.