KHI News Service

Feds promote Obamacare as launch date for insurance exchanges approaches

By KHI NEWS SERVICE | July 31, 2013

Federal officials today released a report on the benefits of Obamacare, breaking them down state by state as part of a public relations push in anticipation of the October launch of the reform law's health insurance marketplace.

According to the report, there are 326,885 currently uninsured Kansans who could receive coverage through the new insurance exchange, which is scheduled to begin processing applications Oct. 1 for coverage that begins Jan. 1.

"Thanks to the health care law, the 86 percent of Kansans who have insurance have more choices and stronger coverage than ever before. And for the 14 percent of Kansans who don’t have insurance, or Kansas families and small businesses who buy their coverage but aren’t happy with it, a new day is just around the corner," Kathleen Sebelius, former Kansas governor and secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a prepared statement. “Soon, the Health Insurance Marketplace will provide families and small businesses who currently don’t have insurance, or are looking for a better deal, a new way to find health coverage that fits their needs and their budgets.”

Open enrollment in the marketplace starts Oct 1, but Sebelius said Kansas families and small businesses could "visit right now to find the information they need to prepare for open enrollment."

According to HHS, of the 326,885 uninsured and eligible Kansans:

• 253,194 or 77 percent have a full-time worker in the family.

• 140,169 or 43 percent are between the ages of 18 and 35.

• 216,644 or 66 percent are white, 28,236 or 9 percent are African American, 51,711 or 16 percent are Latino/Hispanic, and 9,537 or 3 percent are Asian American or Pacific Islander

Most would be eligible for tax credits to help purchase the coverage, officials said.

Other benefits of the law which are already in place also were touted.

According to the report:

  • Kansas has received $1 million in grants for research, planning, information technology development, and implementation of the Health Insurance Marketplace.
  • Since the law allows young people to stay longer on their parents' insurance policies, 25,000 Kansans have gained coverage.
  • As many as 1.2 million non-elderly Kansans have some type of pre-existing health condition, including 166,498 children. Thanks to the law, insurers can no longer deny coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition, like asthma or diabetes. And beginning in 2014, health insurers will no longer be able to charge more or deny coverage to anyone because of a pre-existing condition.
  • Because health insurance companies now have to spend at least 80 cents of each premium dollar on health care or improvements to care, or provide a refund, 83,742 Kansas residents with private coverage will receive more than $4 million in refunds from insurance companies this year, an average refund of $71 per family covered by a policy.
  • The law also bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits

To see the report click here.