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Anxiety and dread rushes in to Obamacare deadline

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 23rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Monday for millions of Americans is the deadline to sign up for health insurance that goes into effect come the New Year. Many people haven't signed up yet. A lot of doubt and anxiety surrounds what was supposed to be a turning point in the troubled history of the new health care law.

LOS ANGELES, CA (catholic Online) - However - a series of decisions by the White House to delay some of the law's most important provisions, as well as extend some deadlines has great uncertainty and confusion.

Young adult enrollment is lagging behind. Insurers, struggling with problems caused by the chaotic debut of the federal insurance exchange in October, say that the Obama administration's indecisiveness has left many insurers adrift.

There are complaints that the stream of information flowing in and about health care reform is sending mixed messages. Federal and state officials say they're were prepared for an influx of activity on their Web sites and at telephone call centers.

"The Dec. 23 deadline is a huge milestone on the way to coverage that will provide relief and hope to a lot of people," Andrea J. Routh, the executive director of the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance, a consumer group says. "For many, this will be the best Christmas gift they've had in a long time."

"People tend to have questions and act when they come up against deadlines," Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says.

President Obama declared last week that "more than one million Americans have selected new health insurance plans through the federal and state marketplaces" since they opened on October 1. The administration had hoped that 3.3 million would be signed up by the end of this month.

States running their own exchanges, like California, Connecticut, Kentucky and New York, all report a surge in demand in the last few weeks.

"Momentum is growing," Peter V. Lee, the executive director of the California insurance exchange says. "Friends are telling friends. Families are telling families."

In the meantime, the Obama administration and health policy experts have repeatedly said the new insurance plans need to sign up large numbers of younger, healthier people to balance the financial risks of covering older Americans who require more medical care.

While demographic data on people buying insurance through the federal exchange has not been released, there is early data from states that suggest people ages 55 to 64 are overrepresented, while those younger than 35 are underrepresented.

Many people who bought insurance on their own have received notices saying their policies were being canceled or discontinued because the policies did not comply with coverage requirements of the new health care law. Those expecting high medical bills had the strongest motivation to overcome the obstacles to buying insurance on the federal exchange.



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