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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
And I'm Linda Wertheimer. We'll get a look this week at how many people have signed up for health insurance on the new government exchanges. According to the Wall Street Journal, fewer than 50,000 people have obtained coverage so far through the federal website. That's well below the government's original forecasts.
Despite all the problems with HealthCare.gov, a few dozen Alaskans have managed to enroll in a health plan through the marketplace. Lara Imler is one of them.
Imler, a 37-year-old hair stylist in Anchorage, ditched her office job as an accountant in 2004. She says she loves making people feel better about themselves and is a lot happier cutting hair than she was sitting in front of a computer. But she does miss one big thing about her old job: "I had health insurance, and it was wonderful."
The new health care law will provide around $1 trillion in subsidies to low- and middle-income Americans over the next decade to help them pay for health insurance.
Johanna Humbert of Galien, Mich., was pleasantly surprised to discover that she qualifies for an insurance subsidy, since her current plan is being canceled. Humbert makes about $30,000 a year, so she'll get a subsidy of about $300 a month. The new plan is similar to her current one, but it will cost $250 — about half of what she pays now.
But where will the money come from to pay for subsidies like these?
Weeks after denying labor's request to give union members access to health law subsidies, the Obama administration is signaling it intends to exempt some union plans from one of the law's substantial taxes.
As if the rollout of the federal health law didn't have enough problems, abortion is back in the spotlight.
How the various health plans in the exchanges would or would not pay for abortion was one of the very last issues settled before the bill was passed in 2010. Now abortion's invisibility on the federal HealthCare.gov website has some people pretty upset.
Getting young, healthy people to sign up for health insurance is seen as critical to the success of the Affordable Care Act. It's precisely those people who will help offset the cost of the older, sicker ones.
But while cheap health insurance and subsidies based on income are intended to make the program appealing to the young, what if they haven't even heard of the health care law? Or don't want to buy even an inexpensive policy?
Via Christi Health has planned seven public events to help Kansans better understand and enroll in the health insurance marketplace.
There will be nationally certified navigators on hand to provide help navigating and enrolling in health insurance coverage offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace. In a release, Via Christi states the goal is to increase preventative cancer screenings through increasing access and enrollment in health insurance coverage.
The Via Christi nurse navigators will be at the following locations in November:
One person who got a letter canceling his health insurance was Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. He holds up the letter during a congressional hearing Wednesday on insurance problems. He says his family chose to buy private insurance rather than use the congressional plan.
President Obama repeated this line or a variation of it many times during the campaign to pass his landmark health care bill: "If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period."
But while that might be true for people who get health insurance through their employer, it's not true for many people who buy their policies in the individual market — about 5 percent of the nation's policyholders.