07 Mar 2014 - 20:08:16
Blacks In South Urged To Enroll In Health Care Plans
"We recognize the importance of (the health care law),'' Johnson told reporters in a conference call. "We know our outreach efforts could make a huge difference.'' The focus on the South stems from the region's large population of blacks and uninsured. Eight of the 10 states with the largest increases in health insurance enrollment from December to January were in the South, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Mississippi topped the list, followed by Florida and Louisiana. Several Southern states opted not to run their own online health insurance exchange under the 2010 law and instead relied on the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov, which was plagued with problems in its early months. Given those problems, "it's likely that there's still some pent-up demands for people needing and waiting to enroll,'' said Jennifer Tolbert, director of state health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
New health insurance marketplaces signing up few uninsured Americans, two surveys find
Under federal rules, coverage begins only if someone has started to pay their monthly insurance premiums. Just over half of uninsured people said they had started to pay, compared with nearly nine in 10 of those signing up on the exchanges who said they were simply switching from one health plan to another. The second survey, by researchers at the Urban Institute and based on slightly older data from December, shows that awareness of the new marketplaces is fairly widespread but that those with a lower income and those who are uninsured are less likely to know about this avenue to health coverage than other people. The surveys are not a perfect way of showing what is happening in the insurance exchanges. But they begin to fill in blanks that both advocates and opponents of the 2010 health-care law agree are critical to understand. If there is one point to the law, it is to lower the number of uninsured, said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation , a health-policy organization. Ultimately, that has to happen for the law to be judged a success. With just over three weeks remaining in a six-month sign-up period, the question of how many uninsured people are gaining coverage is eluding both Obama administration officials and most of the private health plans being sold through the new marketplaces.