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  • The second round of open enrollment for Obamacare begins today, allowing those who didn't obtain health insurance last year the opportunity to get covered. If you are one of those individuals who didn't get health insurance during the first open enrollment, or if you are like me and want to search for new options, you have until February 15, 2015 to make your decision.
  • The deadline to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act is fast approaching. For those of you who have not signed up for coverage yet, there are some very important things that you will need to know going forward. Let's start with the most important update. If you do not sign up for coverage by the end of the day on March 31, you may have some wiggle room to sign up.
  • The single greatest legislative accomplishment in the second half of the twentieth century came on July 30, 1965, the date President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Amendments that created Medicare and Medicaid.
  • It has only taken them five years, but the Republicans have finally rolled out a healthcare plan of their own. And what a plan it is. The Republicans have hammered the President and Democrats for instituting "the biggest tax hike in history" on the American people.
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  • Economists believe something that on its face sounds absolutely bizarre to a normal human being: Obamacare's tax on expensive health insurance will give Americans a pay raise. Here's the argument: Economic theory predicts that companies have a set amount they're willing to pay a worker, given her specific talents and skills. Under this theory, companies are agnostic to whether they spend that money on a salary, a health plan, maybe a gym subsidy, or even a free puppy. What's important is attracting the best workers, and companies will use that money however is necessary in order to get those workers and keep them happy.
  • More than 16 million Americans gained health coverage because of the Affordable Care Act, mainly via the law's health insurance exchange and Medicaid expansion, according to an analysis published Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services. The government estimate is consistent with numerous surveys taken over the past two years. The Health and Human Services report issued Monday is based in part on findings from the polling company Gallup, which found the uninsured rate has fallen from 20.3 percent in October 2013, when Obamacare sign-ups began, to 12.3 percent during the first quarter of this year.
  • Here's some good news: the latest report from the CBO has reduced its estimate of the cost of Obamacare. This is due partly to a slight decrease in the number of people CBO expects to be covered, but mostly due a lower estimate of the cost of insurance premiums. Thanks to this, federal subsidies are estimated at $209 billion less over a ten-year period, and the cost of CHIP and Medicaid is estimated at $73 billion less. However, there are also reductions in expected revenues from Obamacare's excise tax, so the net reduction amounts to $142 billion over ten years. The table below tells the story. Sarah Kliff has more details here.
  • One of the first things House Republicans plan to do after Congress reconvenes Tuesday is vote on a bill that would gut Obamacare—and could deprive up to 1.5 million Americans of their employer-sponsored health insurance. After the GOP-controlled House passes the bill, the newly Republican Senate is likely to pass the measure too. What's more, President Barack Obama may be forced to sign this legislation if it is attached to a must-pass budget bill later this year.
  • Obamacare has had a rough month: it’s being challenged in a Supreme Court case; House Republicans are trying to undermine it with a lawsuit; and its poll numbers are terrible. But on the ground the Affordable Care Act—which is starting its second open-enrollment period—looks robust. Most people in the program say they’re happy with their plans, and new insurers are entering the market. Prices are pretty good, too: estimates suggest that premiums for the second-cheapest of the “silver” plans, which is the benchmark used to set subsidies, have risen by an average of just two to five per cent. Still, one fundamental challenge remains: if Obamacare is to succeed in holding down premiums over the long run, it needs consumers to shop around.
  • The second year of Obamacare’s open enrollment begins Saturday, and unresolved problems from the first season are complicating the already daunting task of enrolling millions of uninsured and re-enrolling millions more. The lingering challenges involve both flawed technology and public perception of the Affordable Care Act as the Supreme Court prepares to review yet another key provision. The first season actually beat enrollment expectations, despite its disastrous start. More than 7 million people have exchange plans, and about 8.7 million were added to Medicaid. Premium increases for 2015 have generally been modest, though not all states have announced them yet. But the distrust and opposition, as the midterm elections vividly illustrated, still runs deep.
  • Last month, the US Census Bureau released its annual figures on income, poverty and health insurance. It revealed that four years into the economic recovery, economic insecurity remains widespread, and low — and middle — income workers have seen no significant wage growth over the past decade. With the poverty rate at an unacceptable 14.5 percent and economic inequality stuck at historically high levels, one might assume that chronic economic insecurity and an off-kilter economy are the “new normal” — that nothing can be done to fix it. But there is nothing “normal” or inevitable about more than 45 million Americans living in poverty. It is the direct result of policy choices. With different policy choices, we will see a more equitable economy — it’s as simple as that.
  • Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the law has weathered a government shutdown, a Supreme Court challenge and scores of political attack ads. But while an estimated 20 million people have gained insurance under the law, it still has no shortage of opponents, from lawmakers trying to repeal it, governors blocking portions of it and lawyers challenging its constitutionality. More Americans, after all, still oppose the law than support it. So where does that leave us? One year after the ACA opened its new health insurance markets to the public, we asked some of the country’s smartest health-care thinkers, from in and outside government and both sides of the aisle, to tell us what Obamacare hasn’t fixed in the American health-care system—and what we can do now.

Liberal Legislation that Affects the Health Insurance Industry

DatePositive Result\BenefitLawRank
03/23/10Insurance companies must spend 80% of the money raised from consumers premiums on health care and quality improvementObamacare (Affordable Care Act)
03/23/10Health insurance companies can not charge higher premiums for out of network emergency room careObamacare (Affordable Care Act)
03/23/10Insurance companies must provide consumers a short, easy to understand summary of their benefits and coverageObamacare (Affordable Care Act)
03/23/10Mental health and drug addiction coverage is an "essential benefit" that can not be deniedObamacare (Affordable Care Act)
03/23/10Preventative services will be covered at no additional costObamacare (Affordable Care Act)
03/23/10Women are no longer charged higher premiums because of their genderObamacare (Affordable Care Act)
03/23/10Consumers are guaranteed the right to appeal decisions made by their health insurance providerObamacare (Affordable Care Act)
03/23/10Consumers guaranteed the right to choose the primary care doctor or pediatrician from their health plan’s provider networkObamacare (Affordable Care Act)

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