‘Obamacare’ sign-ups begin as millions more are uninsured

WASHINGTON — Millions of Americans who have lost health insurance in an economy shaken by the coronavirus can sign up for taxpayer-subsidized coverage starting Sunday.

It’s not a new COVID relief program from the government but the return of annual sign-up season under the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare.” Open enrollment lasts through Dec. 15.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs HealthCare.gov, says premiums are down slightly on average for 2021 and most people will have at least three insurers from which to pick plans. Lower-income people and even middle-class families may qualify for tax credits that can greatly reduce what they pay monthly for premiums.

But President Donald Trump, unrelenting in his opposition to President Barack Obama’s signature domestic program, is asking the Supreme Court to overturn the entire law.

Trump has been promising a much better replacement since before taking office, but never came out with his plan. The justices are scheduled to hear the case Nov. 10, and the administration is doing little to promote sign-ups, having previously slashed the program’s ad budget.

“Affordable health coverage is more essential than ever during the pandemic,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who’s urging people to enroll even if Trump keeps trying to do away with the law.

Hard numbers on how virus-related job losses have affected health coverage are not available because the most reliable government surveys will not be out until next year. Estimates range from 5 million to 10 million newly uninsured people. That’s on top of 26 million uninsured last year, before the pandemic, or about 8% of the U.S. population.

“There is a coverage crisis happening, ” said Stan Dorn, a health policy expert now with Families USA, a liberal advocacy group. “And there are fewer resources available to help, thanks to the Trump cuts.”

Dorn worries that’s “a setup for epic failure,” and many people will remain uninsured even as states across the country are seeing alarming increases in coronavirus cases.

Administration officials say HealthCare.gov is open for business and ready to handle sign-ups online or via its call center. “We’ll be working through the upcoming open enrollment period…to ensure a smooth user experience,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said.

More than 11 million people currently have coverage through HealthCare.gov and state-run health insurance markets offering subsidized private plans. The health law also covers another 12 million people through its Medicaid expansion, adopted by all but 12 states.

Medicaid enrollment has gone up by nearly 4 million people since March, but it’s still unclear how many laid-off workers are coping after the loss of employer coverage in the coronavirus economy.

Those who are healthy most likely have other priorities, such as finding another job. Workers who were furloughed, but not laid off, may have been able to keep their coverage. Some appear to have switched to a spouse’s plan, and those age 65 and older can get on Medicare.

The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 80% of those

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‘Obamacare’ sign-ups begin as millions more are uninsured

WASHINGTON (AP) — Millions of Americans who have lost health insurance in an economy shaken by the coronavirus can sign up for taxpayer-subsidized coverage starting Sunday.

It’s not a new COVID relief program from the government but the return of annual sign-up season under the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare.” Open enrollment lasts through Dec. 15.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs HealthCare.gov, says premiums are down slightly on average for 2021 and most people will have at least three insurers from which to pick plans. Lower-income people and even middle-class families may qualify for tax credits that can greatly reduce what they pay monthly for premiums.


But President Donald Trump, unrelenting in his opposition to President Barack Obama’s signature domestic program, is asking the Supreme Court to overturn the entire law.

Trump has been promising a much better replacement since before taking office, but never came out with his plan. The justices are scheduled to hear the case Nov. 10, and the administration is doing little to promote sign-ups, having previously slashed the program’s ad budget.

“Affordable health coverage is more essential than ever during the pandemic,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who’s urging people to enroll even if Trump keeps trying to do away with the law.

Hard numbers on how virus-related job losses have affected health coverage are not available because the most reliable government surveys will not be out until next year. Estimates range from 5 million to 10 million newly uninsured people. That’s on top of 26 million uninsured last year, before the pandemic, or about 8% of the U.S. population.

“There is a coverage crisis happening, ” said Stan Dorn, a health policy expert now with Families USA, a liberal advocacy group. “And there are fewer resources available to help, thanks to the Trump cuts.”

Dorn worries that’s “a setup for epic failure,” and many people will remain uninsured even as states across the country are seeing alarming increases in coronavirus cases.

Administration officials say HealthCare.gov is open for business and ready to handle sign-ups online or via its call center. “We’ll be working through the upcoming open enrollment period…to ensure a smooth user experience,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said.

More than 11 million people currently have coverage through HealthCare.gov and state-run health insurance markets offering subsidized private plans. The health law also covers another 12 million people through its Medicaid expansion, adopted by all but 12 states.

Medicaid enrollment has gone up by nearly 4 million people since March, but it’s still unclear how many laid-off workers are coping after the loss of employer coverage in the coronavirus economy.

Those who are healthy most likely have other priorities, such as finding another job. Workers who were furloughed, but not laid off, may have been able to keep their coverage. Some appear to have switched to a spouse’s plan, and those age 65 and older can get on Medicare.

The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 80% of

Read more

‘Obamacare’ sign-ups begin as millions more are uninsured | St. Louis business news

Hard numbers on how virus-related job losses have affected health coverage are not available because the most reliable government surveys will not be out until next year. Estimates range from 5 million to 10 million newly uninsured people. That’s on top of 26 million uninsured last year, before the pandemic, or about 8% of the U.S. population.

“There is a coverage crisis happening, ” said Stan Dorn, a health policy expert now with Families USA, a liberal advocacy group. “And there are fewer resources available to help, thanks to the Trump cuts.”

Dorn worries that’s “a setup for epic failure,” and many people will remain uninsured even as states across the country are seeing alarming increases in coronavirus cases.

Administration officials say HealthCare.gov is open for business and ready to handle sign-ups online or via its call center. “We’ll be working through the upcoming open enrollment period…to ensure a smooth user experience,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said.

More than 11 million people currently have coverage through HealthCare.gov and state-run health insurance markets offering subsidized private plans. The health law also covers another 12 million people through its Medicaid expansion, adopted by all but 12 states.

Medicaid enrollment has gone up by nearly 4 million people since March, but it’s still unclear how many laid-off workers are coping after the loss of employer coverage in the coronavirus economy.

Source Article

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Washington Offering Free Flu Shots To Uninsured Adults

WASHINGTON — This year’s flu season has been very mild, and state health officials would like to keep it that way.

The Washington State Department of Health has announced a new program, offering free flu shots to uninsured adults at 23 participating Albertsons and Safeway pharmacies across the state.

To qualify for a free shot, patients must be over 18 and uninsured. No proof of residency or immigration status will be required. Flu vaccines are already being offered and the program will run through June of 2021.

Participating Pharmacies in Western Washington

Location

Address

Phone Number

Safeway Pharmacy (Store #1546)

221 West Heron Street
Aberdeen, WA 98520

(360) 532-8743

Safeway Pharmacy (Store #0531)

101 Auburn Way S
Auburn, WA 98002

(253) 735-4404

Safeway Pharmacy (Store #3285)

1275 E Sunset Drive
Bellingham, WA 98226

(360) 650-1537

Safeway Pharmacy (Store #1467)

900 N Callow
Bremerton, WA 98312

(360) 792-9262

Safeway Pharmacy (Store #0474)

1715 Broadway
Everett, WA 98201

(425) 339-9448

Safeway Pharmacy (Store #1484)

4128 Rucker Ave
Everett, WA 98203

(425) 258-3552

Safeway Pharmacy (Store #1294)

210 Washington Ave S
Kent, WA 98032

(253) 852-5115

Safeway Pharmacy (Store #1464)

3215 Harrison Avenue NW
Olympia, WA 98502

(360) 956-3827

Safeway Pharmacy (Store #1492)

110 East 3rd Street
Port Angeles, WA 98362

(360) 457-0599

Safeway Pharmacy (Store #1563)

200 S 3rd Street
Renton, WA 98057

(425) 226-0325

Safeway Pharmacy (Store #1508)

3820 Rainier Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98118

(206) 725-9887

Safeway Pharmacy (Store #3213)

15332 Aurora Ave N
Shoreline, WA 98133

(206) 539-5500

Safeway Pharmacy (Store #0329)

1112 South M Street
Tacoma, WA 98405

(253) 627-8840

Safeway Pharmacy (Store #1437)

1302 E 38th Street
Tacoma, WA 98418

(253) 471-1630

Learn more about the program from the Washington State Department of Health’s website.

Washington’s top health officials say, in the middle of a pandemic, the last thing our medical system needs is an influx of flu patients.

“The potential for a severe influenza season, or even an average influenza season, compounding the COVID outbreak is very, very disturbing and worrisome,” said King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin.

Read more: Health Experts: Now ‘More Important Than Ever’ To Get Flu Vaccine

The flu shot is recommended for everyone six months old or older. Patients over 65 should consult with their doctor first.

The Washington State Department of Health says there are several changes patients should be aware of for the 2020-2021 flu season:

  • All children under 19 can now receive flu vaccines and other recommended vaccines for free.

  • Most insurance plan cover the cost of the flu vaccine for adults.

  • Adults without insurance may qualify to recieve the vaccine at no cost. Find more information on free vaccination from your local health department.

Guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows the best time to get vaccinated is between September and October, though if the flu season persists past October it’s never too late to get the vaccine. Receiving a vaccine too early, like in August or July, can leave it

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