Observers Expect To See Jump in Use of ACA Coverage Next Week
Obama administration officials, trade groups and health care companies expect many U.S. residents who are newly insured under the Affordable Care Act to start using their coverage next week, after using this week to learn about their plans and arrange initial appointments, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
According to observers, there are concerns that people attempting to use their coverage next week might not be insured, either because they have a different plan than the one they thought they selected or because they have not yet made an initial payment. However, insurers and some large pharmacies -- including CVS, Kroger, Walgreens and Wal-Mart -- are working to ease the transition by granting consumers some leeway in making the initial premium payment or giving customers who can prove they enrolled up to a month of medications at no initial cost.
David Simas, senior adviser at the White House, on a conference call Thursday said, "Like any transition, such as occurs every year, when people move from one type of plan to another, it requires a lot of coordination between pharmacies, insurance companies, hospitals, doctors and providers. That type of coordination is ongoing and will continue to ramp up over the course of the next week."
Meanwhile, the administration has launched a publicity blitz to highlight the law's successes, with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius uploading a YouTube video and writing an opinion piece Thursday. In addition, Simas' conference call included a woman giving personal testimony about how the law has benefitted her.
Opponents of the law also are rallying, with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) writing a blog post calling the ACA "unworkable and unaffordable" and soliciting personal stories from people who have been adversely affected by the law. In addition, Americans for Prosperity has launched a seven-figure ad campaign against three Democratic senators whose positions are vulnerable because of their support for the ACA (Easley, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/3).
Consumers Face Confusion, Obstacles as ACA Kicks In
Meanwhile, some consumers who already have attempted to use their new coverage have encountered some difficulties, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Insurers said Thursday that they have had a few instances in which consumers seeking care were not enrolled in their systems, either because of late signups or because information was lost because of glitches in the federal insurance exchange website. Further, providers also have met with patients who do not yet have proof of insurance (Wilde Mathews et al., Wall Street Journal, 1/2).
For example, John Venetos, a gastroenterologist based in Chicago, said there is "tremendous uncertainty and anxiety" among patients who have signed up for coverage but who have not yet received insurance cards. In addition, insurers are wary about some consumers who enrolled for coverage but have not yet paid their initial premiums.
In addition, states also are encountering glitches in Medicaid enrollment because the federal exchange website has yet to send consumers' applications to each state Medicaid agency, AP/Yahoo! News reports. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's (R) office cautioned that individuals who applied for Medicaid coverage might not yet have insurance, although officials added that insurance would be retroactive through Jan. 1 once enrolled (Williams, AP/Yahoo! News, 1/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.