Affordable Care Act

President and CEO, Maryann Reese, stands in front of St. Elizabeth's Hospital in downtown Belleville, IL. The current building was completed in 1954.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Update 12/16/14: St. Elizabeth's Hospital has asked the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to delay their planned vote over the hospital's move because not all board members will not be present at their December 16 meeting. The board's next meeting is January 27, 2015.

Adrian Clark | Flickr / Flickr

Less than a month into the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period, there are some questions, but nowhere near the problems that were seen a year ago at this time.

“Compared to last year, it is going much smoother. The first day, about 500,000 people logged on and 100,000 people actually signed up for coverage, compared to last year when it took us over a month to get the website working,” said Sidney Watson, a Saint Louis University Health Law Policy Center professor.

Ryan White, the Indiana teenager who, after contracting AIDS at age 13, advocated for a more considered approach to those facing AIDS-related illnesses.
(via Wikimedia Commons/Wildhartlivie)

For people who live with HIV/AIDS, the cost of anti-retroviral medications, doctor’s visits and other medical care can quickly amount to thousands of dollars each month. Health insurance can keep these costs affordable, and the federal Ryan White program pays the cost of insurance for Missourians who meet certain income guidelines. 

But choosing a plan that works for people living with HIV can still be a challenge, and it’s a process Tom Kribben knows well.

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay speaks with Rhonda and John Kiely at the health insurance resource fair at the St. Ann Community Center on Saturday, November 15, 2014.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay says he hopes more Missourians sign up for health insurance this year, now that the second year of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act has begun.

More than 150,000 Missourians signed up for insurance last year—about half of those eligible. 

To mark the first day of open enrollment, the congressman visited a resource fair Saturday at the St. Ann Community Center in north St. Louis County. On-site navigators helped people sign up for health insurance, as vendors sold barbecue and salsa music played.

Dara Taylor of Community Catalyst.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

On Saturday, open enrollment season for Healthcare.gov begins. For the second time around, public health organizations and insurance "navigators" are holding outreach events, running ads, and looking for the remaining uninsured Missouri residents.

But who are those uninsured Missourians? And how have the changes implemented through the Affordable Care Act affected the state?  

Hundreds of thousands of people in Missouri are uninsured. Who are they?

Andre Wilson, an inclusive health advocate and transgender man, will speak at Washington University in St. Louis on Nov. 13 and 14.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

Andre Wilson lived as a woman for the first 43 years of his life. It was excruciating, he said.

“I lived a life of depression, suicidality. I couldn’t even explain to myself, let alone others, what the barriers were,” Wilson said. “One lives a life of never having access to the core self.”

When Wilson began hormone therapy to transition into becoming a man, everything changed.

Adrian Clark | Flickr / Flickr

On Monday, Missourians had their first glimpse at the health insurance rates they can choose from on the federal exchange. According to some, that shouldn't have been the first time the information was public.

Missouri is one of only a few states that does not have a state entity tasked with reviewing health insurance rates before they are finalized. Consumer groups say that means Missourians might be paying more for health insurance on the federal exchange than they should be. 

Adrian Clark | Flickr / Flickr

Even though open enrollment doesn't start for several days, Healthcare.gov began on Monday to allow visitors to take a peek at the individual health insurance plans and rates that will be available for 2015. 

In the St. Louis area, two additional insurance companies  — Cigna and UnitedHealthcare — began offering plans on the federal exchange. For zip codes in St. Louis, the marketplace lists 41 plans with varying monthly premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

Ryan Barker of Cover Missouri said the additional competition likely led to a slight decrease in plan prices.

Dara Taylor of Community Catalyst.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

At a YMCA in North St. Louis, Nancy Kelley of the Missouri Foundation for Health coached about 50 navigators on how to encourage people to purchase health insurance this year.

“In some ways, we got the easy people last year. Maybe they were motivated, maybe they had some knowledge about the marketplace. So we need to get creative,” Kelley told the crowd.

152,335 people bought health insurance on the federal exchange last year, according to the Cover Missouri Coalition. The organization’s goal is to bring the amount of uninsured Missourians below 5 percent in five years.

Rep. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial
Provided

The lawyer for state Rep. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, predicts that his suit against mandated contraceptive coverage will help launch an avalanche of court challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s provision requiring insurance companies to offer such benefits.

But first Wieland needs to persuade a federal appeals court to reinstate his case. A lower court had tossed it out.

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