obamacare

Andrian Clark / Flickr

March 31 looms ever closer.

That's the deadline for you to get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. After then, you'll only be able to get insurance on the health care exchange when there's a big change in your life: a birth, divorce, death, losing your employer-sponsored insurance, or moving to another state.

The latest numbers show 144,586 people in Michigan have gotten health insurance under Obamacare.

And, with more people covered, doctors and hospitals are expecting an uptick in treating one of our state's biggest health challenges: obesity. 

We're joined by Heather Howard, program director of the State Health Reform Assistance Network. 

Listen to the full interview above.

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There is little question that the Affordable Care Act is a game-changer for Americans who had jobs where no insurance was available from their employer, or who had pre-existing conditions, or whose incomes did not qualify them for Medicaid, or who could not afford to buy health coverage.

But as the health care picture brightens for these Americans, there are others who are, frankly, sick of the ACA and the upheaval it has brought to their lives.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes took a look at what the ACA has meant for a typical small Michigan business.

Howes joined us today and we asked him to tell us about American Gear & Engineering. It’s the company he profiled in today's column of the Detroit News.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michiganders have less than four weeks to find a health insurance plan.

After March 31st, people who have not signed up for health insurance will have to pay a federal tax penalty.

Gia Carroll is a health navigator with the Hamilton Community Health Network in Genesee County.    She says money is a bigger issue than health care coverage for many people she works with.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In one month, more than 300,000 people are expected to begin signing up for expanded Medicaid coverage in Michigan. The Medicaid expansion is part of the federal Affordable Care Act.

"Healthy Michigan" would cover nearly everyone, under the age of 65, with an income up to 133% of the federal poverty limit. That translates to individuals making about $15,000 and families of four making less than $32,000.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Opponents of Obamacare turned out for a meeting in Jackson today.  

Congressman Tim Walberg is holding a series of town hall meetings this week on the Affordable Care Act.

The Republican congressman is showcasing small business owners and patients who say they are paying more for health insurance under Obamacare.

Andrian Clark / Flickr

The latest figures from the government tell us that nearly 3.3 million Americans have signed up so far for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. 

Officials are pointing to a surge in young people who are enrolling: The percentage of people age 18-34 who enrolled grew by three percentage points last month over the previous three months. 

Attracting these healthy young people to sign up is critical to the success of the Affordable Care Act, because they offset the costs of covering the older folks who are likely less healthy. 

So just what is the key to getting young Americans under the Obamacare tent?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Obama Administration says Michiganders are signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act at a faster pace than expected. But time is running out.

Michiganders have until the end of March to sign up for health insurance or face a federal tax penalty.

The Obama administration says through the end of January, about 112,000 Michiganders have picked insurance plans using the federal health care website.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The uninsured and others have time to sign up for private insurance under the federal health care law without facing a tax penalty.

But one Michigan insurance executive doubts much new enrollment will occur before the March 31 deadline and cautions that the net number of people buying their own insurance in Michigan could stay flat this year.

People in rural areas trying to enroll for health insurance as part of the new Affordable Care Act can face special challenges. Registration must happen online, and many people in Michigan’s rural counties do not have a home computer or access to the Internet. 

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Social workers in Michigan are starting to wear many hats as health-care reform is implemented.

The expansion of Medicaid and the establishment of the state Health Insurance Exchange is expanding health-care coverage to hundreds of thousands of Michiganders.

Robert Sheehan is the executive director of the Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Counties.

He says all the changes healthcare are broadening the scope of social workers.

A computer screen showing HealthCare.gov in action.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More Michiganders are signing up for health insurance through the federal Affordable Care Act.

Problems with the federal website made it difficult for people to sign up initially.

In Michigan, fewer than 1400 people signed up in October. But after a website overhaul, more than five thousand Michiganders completed the process in November.

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President Obama said that glitches in the healthcare.gov website would be fixed by November 30. Now that that deadline has passed, we wanted to check back in to see how the website was running.

I tried to apply for coverage on October 1, the day the marketplace opened, which didn't work

Though I checked back several times in the last two months, there were still a lot of glitches. I tried accessing my old application yesterday, and still there were problems. The website hung when I was trying to choose the amount of tax credit I apply toward my coverage.

Let's start over, shall we?

NPR reported that a lot of people who weren't able to shop for coverage are now able to because of a "reset button."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A proposal to prohibit basic health insurance plans from covering abortions goes before the Board of State Canvassers tomorrow.   Women would be able to buy separate abortion riders for their health insurance policies.

The Board is expected to certify that a petition drive has enough signatures to put the matter before the legislature.

Genevieve Marnon is with Right to Life of Michigan.   She says women should pay for abortion coverage themselves.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michiganders at risk of losing their health insurance because of Obamacare may be getting a reprieve.

It’s estimated that more than 200,000 policies in Michigan could be at risk of being canceled because the policies don’t meet the minimum standards of the Affordable Care Act.

After a public outcry, President Obama asked the states and insurance companies to keep those policies in effect for another year. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - State legislators are divided over a plan requiring Michigan insurers to tell policyholders the impact of the federal health care law on their premiums.

Legislation awaiting a vote in the Republican-led House would require that insurers give annual estimates of the overhaul's effect on premiums.

Republican Rep. Mike Shirkey of Clark Lake says people deserve to know the law's ramifications. He also wants to insulate insurers from being blamed for premium increases.

But Democrats say the bill is nothing more than a political ploy.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

1,300 Michiganders signed up for Obamacare in the first month of online exchange

"Health officials released a report yesterday showing that only about 1,300 Michigan residents managed to sign up for coverage through the troubled federally-run state health care exchange in its first month of operation," the Associated Press reports.

Michigan Supreme Court names Court of Claims judges

"The Michigan Supreme Court has moved quickly to name judges to serve on a revamped Court of Claims to hear major lawsuits filed against the state. A new law moves the Court of Claims from the Ingham County Circuit and makes it part of the Michigan Court of Appeals. The state Supreme Court tapped two judges originally appointed by a Republican governor and two appointed by a Democrat to serve on the new Court of Claims," Rick Pluta reports.

Senate approves bill for pot sales at pharmacies

"The state Senate has approved a bill that could clear the way for pharmacies to sell medical marijuana in Michigan. That’s if the federal government decides to regulate cannabis as a prescription drug," Jake Neher reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan officials hope to know by Christmas whether the Obama administration has accepted the state’s plan for extending Medicaid coverage to thousands of working poor people.

The state formally submitted its proposal to the federal government today.

The state wants waivers from the usual Medicaid rules so it can charge co-pays, set up health care savings accounts, and use financial incentives to encourage patients to adopt healthy behaviors.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More than 436,000 Michigan residents will qualify for tax subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, according to a report released today from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

According to the study, 17 million Americans are eligible for tax credits that will lower their cost of coverage.

Most of those eligible folks come from states with high populations: Texas, for instance, is estimated to have over 2 million residents who would qualify for subsidies.

California’s not far behind with $1.9 million.

photo by Anna Strumillo Phuket - Thailand / www.fotopedia.com

The state and federal healthcare exchanges are, of course, a big chapter in the overhaul of the American healthcare model - a model that's very different from many other countries around the world.

The BBC's Alice Castle has lived in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. She's had the experience of being pregnant in both countries.

Click the audio above to listen to her unique perspective on the American healthcare system.

healthcare.gov

You know you’ve got a problem when people start a thread on Reddit titled, “How not to optimize a website.

One Reddit commenter writes...

Dropdowns. That's what killed Obamacare!

The online healthcare exchanges have been plagued with problems since they opened.

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