Affordable Care Act

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Federal officials expect over one million more people to sign up for Obamacare in 2017, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. The feds estimate that almost 14 million people will sign up for coverage. That’s compared with fewer than 13 million this year.

As The Rural Blog notes, the agency estimated that “average monthly enrollment in 2017 is estimated at 11.4 million people, up from 10.5 million people in 2016.”

The Washington post

The number of uninsured Americans has dropped to its lowest level since before the Great Recession, reports The Washington Post.

The gains in insured citizens came primarily among people buying individual policies, rather than getting health benefits through a job. This includes, but is not limited to, those obtaining insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Several key Texas lawmakers have shown little interest in expanding Medicaid in Texas, according to The Texas Tribune.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

Rural Americans are benefitting greatly from the Affordable Care Act, according to a new study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In fact, rural citizens are gaining health insurance coverage faster than their urban counterparts, as member station KMUW reports. 

This is especially striking given that two-thirds of uninsured rural people live in states like Kansas and Texas that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility.

Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

In Oklahoma, insurance revenues for home health care dropped last year in comparison to previous years. At the same time, the price of home healthcare rose 2.5 percent over last year, reports member station KGOU. In fact, healthcare costs are rising in every area of health care in Oklahoma.

It’s not just in Oklahoma; home health care costs are going up nationwide. The reason? More Medicare providers are trying to keep chronically ill patients out of hospitals.

From the Kansas Health Institute:

About 12 percent dropped coverage, close to national average.

Almost nine out of every 10 Kansans who selected health insurance on the federal online marketplace paid for at least the first month of their coverage this year, offering one bit of stability in the sometimes-turbulent marketplace.

Rural Americans are gaining health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act at rates outpacing their urban counterparts, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Insurer only MCO to report no expenses for Kansas legislator meals in 2016

For the second year in a row, UnitedHealthcare reported no lobbying expenses during the Kansas legislative session.

The insurance company remained the outlier among the three under contract to administer KanCare, the privatized form of Medicaid that Kansas adopted in 2013.

Public Domain

Health premiums under the Affordable Care Act could rise more next year than in previous years, according to Kaiser Health News. Premiums for one popular type of “silver” plan could rise 10 percent in 2017. This year that same plan’s cost only rose five percent. Projections are based on preliminary insurance rates filed with state regulators. These rates are still subject to federal review.

fstop/Getty Images

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Doctors-in-training learn a lot about the workings of the human body during medical school and residency. But many are taught next to nothing about the workings of the health care system. One university in Washington, D.C., is trying to change that.

Carl Juste / MBR/Houston Chroncile

Five nonprofit organizations in Texas have been awarded almost $5 million by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, reports The Houston Chronicle. The money will go toward boosting efforts to enroll the state's nearly three-quarters of a million uninsured children.

From the Kansas Health Institute:

The Obama administration on Wednesday moved to sharply limit short-term health insurance plans, which a growing number of consumers have been buying even though they offer less coverage than what the Affordable Care Act decreed all people should have.

v1ctor / Flickr Creative Commons

From the Kansas Health Institute:

A broad proposal by Medicare to change the way it pays for some drugs has drawn intense reaction and lobbying, with much of the debate centering on whether the plan gives too much power over drug prices to government regulators.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Health advocates cheered this week when Oklahoma officials announced they were considering expanding Medicaid in that state. Oklahoma has been missing out on millions of federal health care dollars with its decision to not participate in the Affordable Care Act. But with ballooning budget problems and rising health care costs in the state, opting out no longer seems viable. And that means Texas could be next, reports member station KUT.

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Most Americans want the government to pay for health care, a new poll shows. According to KRMG Tulsa, 58 percent favor replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, with a federally funded health care program.

Chan Lone / Texas Tribune

Despite lower uninsured rates that in previous eras, Texas still has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the country, reports member station KUT. And those rates seem to differ according to racial and ethnic lines, according to new evidence.

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

While many Texans have signed up for Obamacare in recent years, a new study has found that many of them may not understand what they’ve signed up for, reports CNBC. According to new research, people who get health coverage through their jobs or government-run programs like Medicare are generally familiar with terms like premium, deductible and co-pay. But Texans who buy coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace are less comfortable with these terms.

Jim McClean / Kansas Health Institute

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Health care problems just one result of the economic decline of rural communities.

Members of Gov. Sam Brownback’s Rural Health Working Group have their work cut out for them.

Representatives of the state’s hospitals and doctors painted a sobering picture of the problems facing rural providers at the group’s first meeting Tuesday evening.

Marketplace Enrollment Climbs in Kansas, Missouri

Feb 9, 2016
US Department of Health and Human Services

From the Kansas Health Institute:

The enrollment period for the federal health insurance marketplace closed Monday night, with higher enrollment than last year in Kansas and Missouri.

Another rural hospital has closed, this time in western Oklahoma, reports The Times Record. Sayre Memorial Hospital in Sayre, Oklahoma, abruptly shut its doors on Monday. The facility blamed “continual financial strain.” Oklahoma’s GOP leaders have refused to expand Medicaid, leading to a drop in income for many hospitals across the state.

Melissa del Bosque / Texas Observer

According to The Texas Observer, more than 1 million poor Texas adults will remain without insurance if Texas doesn’t expand Medicaid, experts say. According to a new report, uninsured Texans say cost is the main reason they do not have insurance. Researchers found that 70 percent of uninsured Texans find health insurance too expensive.

The New York Times

  The New York Times recently mapped America’s uninsured. And when you view the map as a whole, clear regional patterns are emerging about who has health insurance in America and who still doesn’t. The remaining uninsured are primarily in the South and the Southwest. They tend to be poor people who live in Republican-leaning states. Texas and Oklahoma are particularly dark on the map, showing large rates of uninsured.

Brett Deering / New York Times

An intrepid team of insurance counselors is stepping up efforts to enroll Oklahomans in medical coverage. They’re doing all they can before the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period ends on Sunday. But, as The New York Times reports, the group is facing massive resistance. Oklahoma is one of the most hostile states to the health law.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

When it comes to enrolling the uninsured on, Florida is crushing Texas. And the competition isn’t even close, reports The Dallas Morning News. 1.6 million Floridians have signed up for private insurance plans this year. That’s compared to only 1.1 million Texans. Why the disparity, when Texas has more people than Florida? The Sunshine State is more compact. Florida has 75 percent of Texas’s population, crammed into one quarter of its real estate.


Groups working to boost health insurance enrollment in Kansas are concerned their efforts could be undermined by the last-minute departure of one of the state’s largest insurers.

Abigail Wilson / KMUW

From the Kansas Health Institute:

The debate over the size and role of government isn’t just polarizing national politics.

It is also at the center of a dispute in Sedgwick County over public health funding.

Conservatives who now control the five-member County Commission are seeking to restore “core American values,” which include limited government, said Chairman Richard Ranzau in a recent speech to Republicans at the Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Kansas Health Institute
Pixabay / Creative Commons

The federal health reform law known as the Affordable Care Act prevents insurers from considering pre-existing health conditions when setting premiums for consumers. But they are able to consider age, location and tobacco use.

And that means some Kansans who smoke are charged higher insurance rates, which may discourage low-income smokers from getting health coverage, according to a new issue brief from the Kansas Health Institute.

US Uninsured Rate Reaches Record Lows

Aug 11, 2015
jasleen_kaur / Flickr Creative Commons

The rate of uninsured citizens in the US continues to reach record lows, reports the Center for Rural Affairs. A recent Gallup report shows the rate falling 12 percent in the second quarter of 2015.Since the Affordable Care Act took effect, the rate of uninsured Americans has fallen by over 36%. Before the implementation of the ACA, the US uninsured rate was a persistent and growing problem. The problem was made worse by the Great Recession of 2008.

From Kaiser Health News:

Even in Kentucky, which championed the 2010 health care law by expanding Medicaid and running its own insurance marketplace, about half of poor people say they have heard little about the Affordable Care Act, according to a Harvard University study published Monday in Health Affairs.