ACA

A regional director for US Department of Health and Human Services is in Utah to raise awareness about the second open enrollment period for health insurance.

Kim Gillan is the HHS Regional Director for six states in the Rocky Mountain region, but for the moment, her role in Utah is to be a health insurance cheerleader. Gillan says healthcare.gov is much more user friendly than it was in the first rollout and it’s operating smoothly.

Some people might think of November as the beginning of the holiday season, but for those involved in the health insurance field – it’s the beginning of another open enrollment season. Jason Stevenson of Utah Health Policy Project joins us to answer questions about health insurance this enrollment season, which begins Saturday, November 15th.

More information about open enrollment is available at Take Care Utah.

Another open enrollment period to sign up for health insurance is coming up in November, and rates are going to change. State assistance insurance commissioner Tanji (TAN-jee) Northrup says premium rates increase every year along with healthcare costs. She says preliminary estimates show that premium rates for individuals will go up by about 5.7 percent on average. That’s compared to an estimated national increase of 7 percent.

Brian Grimmett / KUER

Governor Gary Herbert is still encountering resistance from fellow Republicans on his plan to provide health coverage to the poor. Utah Department of Health officials briefed a committee of state lawmakers Thursday on their negotiations in Washington. The Governor has said he is pleased with the outcome, but some conservative state lawmakers are still not sold on the plan to expand government assistance in Utah.

A new poll shows that Utahns don’t know very much about Governor Gary Herbert’s plan to deliver health insurance to low-income citizens. But when they learn more, they tend to support it. KUER’s Andrea Smardon took to the streets to see for herself what Utahns know and don’t know about healthcare decisions facing state lawmakers. 

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert says he is very close to an agreement with the federal government on his proposal to provide health insurance for those under the poverty line.

Coming out of his meeting with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell in Washington, Governor Herbert says he’s gotten about 95 percent of what he’s asked for, and he’s optimistic that a final agreement should be reached shortly.

The US Supreme Court ruled Monday that two private companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. It’s the first time the high court has declared that businesses can hold religious views under federal law.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Utah’s Republican lawmakers say they’re not ready to make any decisions about Medicaid expansion or the governor’s alternative plan. That means over 110,000 low income Utahns will likely be waiting at least until next year before they know what their health insurance options may be.

At a GOP caucus this week, Republicans legislators determined that they don’t all agree when it comes to Medicaid and healthcare reform.

The Affordable Care Act is in effect across the country, but some Utahns are finding that they still don’t have any options for health insurance. As part of an ongoing series, KUER looks at those in this coverage gap. In today’s installment, we meet a 32-year-old who is in the process of coming out as transgender.

After weeks of waiting, thousands of Utahns will find out if they qualify for Medicaid. Confusion and technical difficulties with the federal exchange website healthcare.gov have left some Utahns’ applications in limbo.

Utahns who receive health insurance through the state’s Primary Care Network will likely have more time before they are cut from the program. PCN was set to expire at the end of this year, but state health officials say they have verbal confirmation from the federal government that the program will be funded for another year.

The number of Utahns who have signed up for health insurance through the federal exchange quadrupled last month.  That’s according to federal enrollment data released Wednesday morning.

Signed & Numbered

Now that healthcare.gov is working better, more Utahns are going online to sign up for insurance. KUER’s Andrea Smardon reports that it’s affordable for some, expensive for others, and not available at all for more than 100,000 Utah citizens.

Andrea Smardon

Some of Utah’s healthcare powerbrokers are honing in on a plan to expand Medicaid that they think the state legislature might approve. At a healthcare conference in downtown Salt Lake City Thursday, former lieutenant governor Greg Bell - now president and CEO of the Utah Hospital Association – laid out his vision.

Bell says the state’s decision on Medicaid expansion will really be decided by the Utah legislature.  

Obama administration memos released this week reveal that Utah insurance officials requested to shut down the state’s shopping portion of the federal exchange last month. The request was made after Utah’s biggest issuer, SelectHealth, was not appearing on the website marketplace.

Utah’s Assistant Insurance Commissioner Tanji Northrup says it took a few days after the federal exchange was launched on October 1st to figure out there was a major problem.

More than 4000 Utahns have been stalled in their efforts to get health insurance because federal and state computer systems are not yet able to communicate.  Officials from the state Department of Workforce Services say Utah was ready when the exchange went online October 1st, but the federal system was not.

The federal health insurance exchange opened for business Tuesday, and state regulators have revealed the rates that Utahns have to choose from. In Salt Lake and Davis Counties, there is one insurer who has lower price plans than the rest. But insurance experts say consumers should look at more than just monthly premiums when making their choice.

Andrea Smardon

Small business owners convened at the Salt Palace in downtown Salt Lake on Tuesday to learn about the Affordable Care Act and significant changes coming in health care. The Salt Lake Chamber along with insurance company SelectHealth released a survey revealing that the Affordable Care Act is perceived negatively by a majority of businesses, but that many of those businesses are also uninformed about the requirements of the law.

Ask small business owners how they will be affected by the Affordable Care Act… and you get answers like this…