Affordable Care Act

When it comes to health insurance for young adults, the Affordable Care Act made it possible for kids to stay on their parents' health plans until they turn 26. It was one of the first provisions of the law to take effect and has proved popular. But what happens when the parents are divorced? Here's a look at that question and a couple of others about coverage issues.

A Gallup poll released Tuesday suggests the Affordable Care Act is significantly increasing the number of Americans with health insurance, especially in states that are embracing it. It echoes previous Gallup surveys, and similar findings by the Urban Institute and Rand Corp.

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Should the federal government help Americans pay for their new health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act? That's a question being tackled in courts across the country. Two of them have issued very different rulings. 

A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday dealt a significant blow to the Affordable Care Act, when it threw out an IRS regulation that governs subsidies. But before the ink dried on that decision, another three-judge panel hearing a similar case issued a decision that was completely opposite.

The Jackson Laboratory

Connecticut Congressman John Larson sponsored a health care forum on Monday at the legislative office building in Hartford. 

"Improving Our Health Care System Through Science and Innovation" was a chance for a panel of prominent health care leaders to tout how innovations in their area of expertise are saving lives and pulling down the cost of health care.

Mark Fischer / Creative Commons

It looks like the world'’s largest hedge fund won'’t build a new headquarters in Stamford…. What does that say about the state'’s economic development plans? A charter school organization faces investigations of its finances and operations. What does it say about the school reform movement? We’'ll look at those stories, plus the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate, and whether the employer-based insurance model makes sense today.

The Supreme Court has ruled that family owned and other closely held companies can opt out of the Affordable Care Act's provisions for no-cost prescription contraception in most health insurance if they have religious objections.

The owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of arts and crafts stores and those of another closely held company, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., had objected on the grounds of religious freedom.

The ruling affirms a Hobby Lobby victory in a lower court and gives new standing to similar claims by other companies.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

One dollar and 22 cents. That's how much Access Health CT, the state's health insurance marketplace, pays its call center operator for each minute it spends on the phone helping someone navigate the Affordable Care Act.

It's also a number that Maximus, the call center operator, has tried to keep from public disclosure for months.

A San Francisco law now permits the sheriff's department to enroll inmates in health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act — policies designed to cover medical care after a prisoner's release. Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi believes that making sure people have health coverage when they leave jail will help keep them from committing another crime and coming back.

The Robinson family of Dallas started out pretty excited about their new insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act.

Nick Robinson had turned to Obamacare after he lost his job last summer. He had been working as a youth pastor, and the job included benefits that covered him, his two young daughters, and his wife, Rachel, a wedding photographer.

Nick says he wasn't too nervous at first, because everyone was healthy. Then, he recalls, they found out Rachel was pregnant.

Access Health CT

A new poll by a non-profit working to get people health insurance coverage say that a lack of understanding hindered Obamacare enrollment for at least one demographic groups: Latinos. 

Last year, the Republican playbook for keeping control of the House of Representatives in 2014 and winning the Senate consisted of a fairly simple strategy: Run against Obamacare.

But now that the 2014 races are starting to take shape, that strategy isn't looking quite so simple. Democrats are fighting back. They're focusing on Republican opposition to the health law's expansion of Medicaid as a part of their own campaigns.

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One part of the Affordable Care Act has become less affordable: call centers. Maximus, the company that runs the phone banks to enroll people in Connecticut, originally said it would charge the state $15 million over roughly three years.

The state now says the cost of that contract could nearly double. 

Employers May Start Paying You To Buy Health Insurance

May 13, 2014

What if employers started giving workers a chunk of cash to buy health insurance on their own instead of offering them a chance to buy into the company plan? Are workers ready to manage their own health insurance like they do a 401(k)?

The idea that employers might drop their health plans and replace them with a "defined contribution" for employees has been around for years. It's one way for employers to control their expenses in the face of the relentlessly rising costs of health care.

Connecticut Mission of Mercy

Your teeth may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to health care. Dentists say oral health problems seldom get better on their own, and can point to disease elsewhere in the body, including diabetes and some forms of cancer and leukemia. Of course, a toothache can just be painful.

But if you’re an adult who doesn’t have dental insurance, caring for your teeth and your health can be a real challenge. The Affordable Care Act covers dental care for children, but not adults, and dental care isn't cheap.

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The company that got the multimillion-dollar contract to run the call centers for the health care exchange Access Health CT -- called Maximus -- is refusing to release invoices and contracts to show exactly how much they are paid by the state. 

Among the states that looked to expand health coverage to nearly all their citizens, Massachusetts was an early front-runner.

The state passed its own health care law back in 2006 mandating near-universal insurance coverage. That law became a model for federal action. And after the Affordable Care Act went through in 2010, Massachusetts had a head start in bringing health coverage to the uninsured.

Yet Massachusetts threw in the towel Tuesday on the problem-plagued online marketplace that was supposed to make health insurance shopping a snap.

President Obama made fun of himself at the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday, the annual nerd-ball schmooze fest where Washington's media stars get comfy with a mix of political bigwigs and Hollywood beautiful people to celebrate a year of journalism.

Obama, known for his comic timing and delivery, didn't disappoint.

Until recently, Mike Smith, 64, of Long Beach, Calif., worked 11 hours a day, Monday through Friday and then half a day on Saturday. He was a district manager for a national auto parts chain.

He dreamed of retiring early, but it wasn't an option for him because he and his wife relied on the health insurance tied to his job.

"At our age, with some pre-existing medical conditions, it would have been very costly to buy insurance on the open market — about $3,000 a month," he says.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

The Affordable Care Act is all about getting people health insurance. Once they're insured, there's another hurdle: getting them access to care. That's a particular problem for people living on low incomes.

It's even more of a problem for the poor who seek behavioral health care. 

Free Dental Clinic Continues to Draw Crowds

Apr 28, 2014
Alan Yu / WNPR

More than 2,000 people waited outside the XL Center in Hartford this past weekend to get free dental work at the Connecticut Mission of Mercy dental clinic.

There were so many people that hundreds had to line up overnight.

President Obama says that enrollment under the Affordable Care Act has reached 8 million after the March 31 sign-up deadline was extended by two weeks.

"This thing is working," he told reporters at a White House briefing on Thursday.

The president said that 35 percent of those signing up through the federal government's website were under the age of 35. The need for younger, healthier individuals to enroll in the program is considered vital to the success of Obamacare.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

In this edition of our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, we ask two big questions surrounding the 2014 race for governor. What impact will John Rowland's latest scandal have on Republicans? What impact will President Barack Obama have on Governor Dannel Malloy and the state's Democratic congressional delegation?

Also: did you join the herds of UConn basketball fans in line for $1.00 burritos?

Federal rules ensure that none of the millions of people who signed up for Obamacare can be denied insurance — but there is no guarantee that all health services will be covered.

To help make sure a patient's claims aren't improperly denied, the Affordable Care Act creates national standards that allow everyone who is denied treatment to appeal that decision to the insurance company and, if necessary, to a third party reviewer.

Michael Himbeault / Creative Commons

Connecticut's Obamacare enrollment website did well enough this year to attract the interest of other states. Officials from Access Health CT said they are finalizing a deal with the state of Maryland to share computer code.

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President Obama said that more than seven million people have signed up for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Connecticut saw a huge surge in enrollments as Monday's deadline passed. 

This post was updated at 4:40 p.m. ET. with Obama's comments.

President Obama emerged from the White House on Tuesday to rousing applause. He announced that 7.1 million Americans had signed up for health care through the federal exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act.

"This law is doing what it's supposed to do," Obama said at the Rose Garden. "It's working. It's helping people from coast to coast."

Seven Things to Watch As the Health Care Enrollment Deadline Passes

Mar 31, 2014
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Just because open enrollment for people who buy their own health insurance formally closes March 31 doesn't mean debate over the health law will take a hiatus. After more than four years of strident rhetoric, evidence about how the law is actually working is starting to trickle in. 

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As the deadline to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act approaches, the federal government now says it will give some people extra time to enroll. But that change won't apply to people in Connecticut.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Officials say enrollment in the state's health insurance marketplace is surging as the March 31 deadline to sign up approaches.