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  • Morning Bell: Countdown to Obamacare Exchanges

    While America was resting from its labors, the countdown to Obamacare began.

    In just 27 days, the Obamacare exchanges are scheduled to open, and people who don’t get health insurance through their employers (or through the government already) will start buying coverage.

    Sixteen states are doing their own insurance exchanges, while the federal government is running exchanges in 34 states.

    Many states have been aggressively advertising and promoting their exchanges. But there is still a lot we don’t know. Several questions we’re still asking:

    How many insurers will participate?

    So far, the number of insurance companies offering plans through the exchanges varies widely from state to state. And in some, it’s nearly chaotic. Consider Mississippi. Heritage expert Alyene Senger details that state’s woes: Initially, only two insurers applied to offer coverage in the exchange—and they weren’t even going to provide coverage for the entire state. Humana later said it would provide coverage to the uncovered counties. But it remains that the vast majority of Mississippians in the exchange will only be able to do business with one insurer.

    Which doctors and hospitals will be covered?

    Exchange customers may not have access to the same doctors and hospitals that other patients have. Senger writes that “limited networks have resulted in major hospitals being excluded in California’s exchange.”

    How much will coverage cost?

    Most people probably don’t know yet how much their exchange insurance plans will cost. Senger warns that premiums aren’t the only cost—people could also see co-pays and deductibles go up.

    For example, Ohio announced that premiums in their exchange will increase on average by 41 percent compared to the premiums that Ohio companies reported at the end of 2012. In addition to premium projections, the Ohio Department of Insurance also provided a projection for the increase in the total cost of coverage, called the average index rate, which is projected to be a dramatic 83 percent increase.

    How safe will your personal information be?

    Obamacare “navigators” will be helping people sign up for the exchanges—and they don’t have to go through background checks to get those jobs. Security of the data hub that will house Americans’ tax filings, Social Security reports, and other government data has been delayed, and there have been reports that the Administration is cutting corners on data privacy.

    Lawmakers could prevent this convoluted, unpopular, unworkable law from wreaking havoc on the health care system if they would defund Obamacare.

    Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.

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