Obamacare

How Health Insurance Exchanges Are Like Flea Markets

May 27, 2014

Billions of dollars went into creating state marektplaces, and we know about 8 million people signed up. But it's actually still to early to declare success or failure. So, what can we say about what the public is getting for its money.

First, if you want to visualize what these marketplaces are, what the $4 billion-plus in federal grants to states paid for, think: flea market.

With the Affordable Health Care Act now in effect, a question has come up as to the future of local volunteer healthcare clinics, like the Angels Community Clinic in Murray, which provides free medical and pharmacy services to residents of Calloway County who work but cannot afford insurance coverage. The clinic's Executive Director Sherry Crittenden visits Sounds Good to discuss changes in the guidelines and their continuing service in Murray.

Steve Beshear couldn't help but chuckle during the State of the Union speech when President Obama said, "Kentucky's not the most liberal part of the country."

Obama was singling out his fellow Democrat for being the rare Southern governor who has fully implemented the Affordable Care Act, expanding Medicaid and running a state health insurance exchange that launched far more smoothly than the federal model.

Tambra Momi has been eagerly awaiting the promise of guaranteed health insurance.

Since 2011, she has battled Dercum's disease, a rare and painful condition in which noncancerous tumors sprout throughout her body, pressing against nerves.

Jobless and in a wheelchair, Momi needs nine different drugs, including one costing $380 a month, to control the pain and side effects. No insurer has been willing to cover her, she says, except a few that have taken her money and then refused to pay for her medications.

The woman whose smiling face adorned the HealthCare.gov website in the first days after its launch has stepped forward to tearfully address those who she says cyberbullied her as they took potshots at the Obama administration's troubled online health exchange.

The health care exchanges may be open, but there's no question they're still kind of a mess.

"The rollout has been excruciatingly awful for way too many people," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius conceded to the Senate Finance Committee last week.

But mess or not, the law is going forward, people are trying to use it, and they have questions. Here are some of yours, and our answers.

On Sounds Good, Todd Hatton gets a status report on how our region is faring signing up for Affordable Health Care with kynect Program Manager Jackie Eubanks of West Kentucky Allied Services of Mayfield.

The first of two days worth of hearings about the problems plaguing HealthCare.gov got going Tuesday with an apology for the botched rollout from Marilyn Tavenner — administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. As It's All Politics noted earlier, she heads the agency "that oversaw the ill-fated website project."

U.S. Congress

U.S. Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield says a different focus for the Republican Party may have been more effective in negotiations during the 16-day partial government shutdown earlier this month. Whitfield made his remarks in a weekend WKMS interview.

Whitfield said Republican uproar over the Affordable Care Act was understandable because, he said, the overreaching public law is riddled with problems the federal and state governments are battling. Because of that, though, Whitfield said he believes portions of the law upon which Republican scrutiny is centered will fall apart regardless of Congressional opposition.

Jeffrey Zients isn't exactly a household name. But if he can cure what ails the Affordable Care Act website, he'll be one of the best-known figures in the Obama administration.

Zients (rhymes with Heinz) is the professional manager President Obama turned to in order to solve the by-now-infamous problems with the federal government's health care exchange website.

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