Many uninsured still don't understand health law's benefits while employers remain concerned about costs

The New York Times examines efforts by a nonprofit group to explain the overhaul's provisions to the uninsured. And the Wall Street Journal looks at an employer's efforts to keep the number of workers low so he can avoid the law.

The New York Times: Next Challenge For The Health Law: Getting The Public To Buy In
On its face, the low-key discussion around a conference table in Miami last month did not appear to have national implications. Eight men and women, including a diner owner, a chef and a real estate agent, answered questions about why they had no health insurance and what might persuade them to buy it. ... The sessions confirmed a daunting reality: Many of those the law is supposed to help have no idea what it could do for them. In the Miami focus group, a few participants knew only that they could face a fine if they did not buy coverage. ... There lies the challenge for Enroll America, a nonprofit group formed last year to get the word out to the uninsured and encourage them get coverage, providing help along the way (Goodnough, 12/19).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Costs On His Mind
Owner Carl Schanstra ... is worried that as Automation Systems continues to expand, it will be subject to a provision in the health-care overhaul that could damage its bottom line. ... That is because his plant, with sales of about $1.6 million for 2012, currently employs 40 full-time workers, mostly low-paid employees who monitor the factory equipment. If sales were to continue to rise, the plant could, conceivably, employ 50 full-time workers in 2014. Under the new health-care law, the Affordable Care Act, businesses with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees will be required, starting in that year, to offer workers health insurance or potentially pay a penalty. The expense, he says, would drive up the cost of his labor. So he doesn't want to let employment at the factory reach that number (Maltby and Needleman, 12/19).

Meanwhile, in other health law news --

Kaiser Health News: Health Insurance Executive: 'Incorporating All The New Regulations' Will Be Challenge In 2013
As chairman and CEO, Bruce Bodaken led Blue Shield of California to become one of the fastest growing health plans in the state – it currently has more than 3 million members. But after 12 years of service, the 61-year-old recently announced his plans to retire at the end of 2012. ... Bodaken's views on the health law and the current state of the insurance industry were among the many topics during a recent interview with Kaiser Health News (Tran and Barr, 12/19).

Politico Pro: States Can't Get Guidance To Launch Basic Health Plans
Some of the states that hope to go the extra mile on Obamacare say they've been confounded by a lack of guidance -; from the Obama administration. While most of the attention around the law's implementation has focused on states refusing to cooperate at all, the most eager states -; seeking to unwrap all the law has to offer -; have hit a wall on one of the most advanced features: building a Basic Health Plan. The optional program is intended to cover low-income people whose earnings routinely fluctuate, often leaving them eligible for Medicaid one day and more likely to end up on a subsidized insurance exchange the next. But in a handful of states that are eyeing the option, officials say the absence of guidance from Washington means states can't set up a Basic Health Plan until at least 2015 (Millman and Cheney, 12/19).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


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