By Michele Richinick
President Barack Obama phoned in to On Air with Ryan Seacrest on Friday to discuss the looming enrollment deadline for the Affordable Care Act, the latest in a series of viral stunts intended to encourage young people to buy health insurance coverage.
“You should go to HealthCare.gov and compare the prices that are available for various private plans. And they’re the same kind of plans that you’d get on the job that people are familiar with,” he told Seacrest, who also hosts American Idol.
Citizens must sign up for a plan by March 31 or risk not being covered by health insurance for the remainder of the year. Once this month ends, the next opportunity to enroll will be in November. Americans who cannot afford a plan with the help of subsidiaries and tax exemptions, however, won’t suffer penalties for not enrolling.
Almost one million residents registered for insurance last month, but the White House is still aiming to recruit two million more in less than three weeks. About 4.2 million people overall have found private health coverage through the new insurance exchanges since the infamously rocky rollout of the website last October.
By Geoffrey Cowley
The last significant legal challenge to Obamacare suffered a setback today, when a Washington DC District Court rejected it. Plaintiffs backed by the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute are seeking to block health-care subsidies to low- and moderate-income consumers in 34 states where the federal government is either running or facilitating new health-insurance exchanges. They say the law restricts that support to states that operate exchanges on their own. But in a sweeping and closely argued ruling, Judge Paul L. Friedman thrashed that notion, saying that Congress “clearly intended to make premium tax credits available on both state-run and federally-facilitated exchanges.”
The dispute centers on a single phrase in the health care law. As written, it says the federal government will extend tax credits to qualified consumers who buy health coverage through insurance exchanges “established by the state.”
Represented by Michael Carvin, the lawyer who unsuccessfully challenged the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court in 2012, the plaintiffs claim that the phrase was no mere drafting glitch. According to their legal complaint, Congress intended to use the consumer subsidies as “carrots” to motivate the states to create their own insurance exchanges. “States rejecting the offer got a stick instead: the imposition of a federally-established, federally-operated exchange in the state, with no subsidies at all.”
By Geoffrey Cowley
Shopping for insurance on healthcare.gov isn’t yet as easy as booking a flight on Expedia, but a new survey suggests that consumers are warming up to the new online marketplace for health care. The findings, released Thursday by the Commonwealth Fund, show that insurance seekers had markedly better experiences in December than in October. Nearly 70% continued to give the health-care exchanges “fair” or “poor” ratings—a finding the Right may trumpet as a bitter defeat for Obamacare—but the finding is less dire as it sounds. Most potential enrollees said they still expected to buy insurance before open enrollment ends this spring, and young adults are showing as much interest as older ones.