Renewal wrinkles, high deductibles and decisions for employers: These and other health law implementation issues grab headlines

News outlets report on a range of health law implementation issues that are causing challenges for consumers, employers and Obamacare advocates.

The New York Times: Unable To Meet The Deductible Or The Doctor
Patricia Wanderlich got insurance through the Affordable Care Act this year, and with good reason: She suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2011, spending weeks in a hospital intensive care unit, and has a second, smaller aneurysm that needs monitoring. But her new plan has a $6,000 annual deductible, ... She is skipping this year's brain scan and hoping for the best. ... About 7.3 million Americans are enrolled in private coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than 80 percent qualified for federal subsidies to help with the cost of their monthly premiums. But many are still on the hook for deductibles that can top $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for families (Goodnough and Pear, 10/17).

Politico Pro: Obamacare Termination Issue Could Muddle Renewals
Consumers who already have an Obamacare plan could face a messy situation early next year if they pick a different insurer for their 2015 coverage because HealthCare.gov won't be telling companies whom to terminate. In some cases, industry sources worry, a person could be double billed for premiums because two carriers have the individual on their books on Jan. 1. Other consumers could be erroneously cut from their plans after Dec. 31 if inaccuracies in the federal exchange database lead to companies getting bad information on renewals, said one insurance official who has been briefed on the issue (Pradhan, 10/17).

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: For Some Employers, It's Decision Time On Health Coverage
Some large employers in Georgia are facing a health care crisis of their own this fall: Should they offer their workers medical insurance next year or not? That decision, which they are making now and will take effect New Year's Day, will cost them either way. The issue for them is how to limit the financial impact while appeasing the federal government (Markiewicz, 10/17).

Fortune: What's Behind The Dramatic Rise In Medical Identity Theft?
An elderly man went to the emergency room after injuring his back. When he got there, the doctor noticed that he also had an infection. He offered the elderly man penicillin, the same medication he received during his last visit to the ER. The elderly man was confused. This was his first visit to the ER, and he was allergic to penicillin. ... It soon became clear that someone else had used the elderly man's health insurance card ... With the increasing digitization of health information (in the form of electronic health records) and the formation of health exchanges (due to the Affordable Care Act), the trend in medical identity theft is unlikely to abate any time soon (Shin, 10/19). 

Charlotte Observer: High-Deductible Insurance Plans Can Carry Large Out-Of-Pocket Costs
Dale Seng of Charlotte thought he understood his risk when he bought high-deductible health coverage on the Affordable Care Act exchange. It seemed like a smart choice to hold down premiums for his healthy family of four. But when his daughter was hospitalized, he was furious to learn that he was on the hook for $11,000, rather than the $5,500 individual limit he thought he'd purchased. As the 2015 health insurance enrollment season begins, Seng's story highlights a growing challenge. To cut monthly premium costs, more people are choosing high-deductible plans, gambling that they can stay healthy. More employers are pushing that option; some are giving employees no choice. The plans are so complex that even Seng, a computer programmer who did his homework, could get sandbagged by fine print that he says wasn't disclosed when he shopped. "That's one of the reasons why I'm so disturbed," he said (Helms, 10/18).

CT Mirror: Obamacare, Discontinued Plans and 'Sticker Shock,' Round 2
Pete Spain knew he and his wife would have to find a new health plan for 2015 since their current policy is being discontinued at the end of the year. But the letter explaining it still contained a surprise: Buying a comparable plan next year would cost the Bridgeport couple nearly 58 percent more. "That's just a bigger hit than we expected," he said. The Spains are among more than 60,000 Connecticut residents with health plans that don't meet the requirements of the federal health law. Many of them are receiving notices that their plans are being discontinued and that comparable, Obamacare-compliant plans will cost significantly more (Levin Becker, 10/20).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org 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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