- Created on 10 October 2013
This photo provided by HHS shows the main landing web page for HealthCare.gov. (AP Photo / HHS)
WASHINGTON (AP) — The government's new health insurance marketplaces are drawing lots of rotten tomatoes in early reviews, but people are at least checking them out.
Seven percent of Americans report that somebody in their household has tried to sign up for insurance through the health care exchanges, according to an AP-GfK poll.
While that's a small percentage, it could represent more than 20 million people.
Three-fourths of those who tried to sign up reported problems, though, and that's reflected in the underwhelming reviews.
Overall, just 7 percent of Americans say the rollout of the health exchanges has gone well. Far more deem it a flop.
George Spinner, 60, a retired government worker from Ruther Glen, Va., said he managed to create an online account and password before he got stuck.
"It kept telling me there was an error," he said.
Reynol Rodriguez, a computer technician from San Antonio, said he was able to do some comparison shopping online but computer glitches kept him from signing up.
"I was very much looking forward to it," said Rodriguez, 51. "That's what this country needs — affordable health care."
Rodriguez pledged to keep trying — just what President Barack Obama has been recommending to those who've run into trouble.
Count Janice Brown, a semiretired travel agent from Prather, Calif., among those who had a positive experience.
After some initial trouble on the website, she got through to a help line and downloaded an application to buy a plan for $1,500 a month for herself and her husband. That's $1,000 less than her current private plan.
"I'm thrilled," said Brown, 61. "The coverage is better. It's fantastic."
Among those who've actually tested out the system, three-quarters of those polled said they've experienced problems trying to sign up. Only about 1 in 10 succeeded in buying health insurance.
Overall, the poll found, 40 percent of Americans said the launch of the insurance markets hasn't gone well, 20 percent said it's gone somewhat well and 30 percent didn't know what to say. Just 7 percent said the launch had gone "very well" or "somewhat well."
Even among those who support the president's health care overhaul law, just 19 percent think the rollout has gone extremely well or very well. Forty percent say it's gone somewhat well, and 18 percent think not too well or not well at all.
The survey offers an early snapshot on use of the new health insurance exchanges set up by states and the federal government under Obama's Affordable Care Act. Thirty-six states are using the federal government's site, HealthCare.gov, which the Obama administration says has had millions of unique visitors. The administration has declined to release enrollment statistics, saying that will be done monthly.
White House senior communications adviser Tara McGuinness said the administration is working around the clock "to improve the consumer experience," and she stressed that the poll was taken just six days into a six-month campaign to educate people about their options.
She added, "The overwhelming attention from millions of Americans checking out HealthCare.gov during the first few days is a good testament to the interest of Americans in new affordable health options."
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that about 7 million uninsured people will gain coverage through the online insurance marketplaces next year, but the role of the markets is actually much bigger than that.
They were intended to be a 21st century portal to coverage for people who do not have access to health insurance on the job. And that includes insured people as well as the uninsured.
There are three big groups of potential customers for the markets: uninsured middle-class people who now will be able to get government-subsidized private coverage; people who currently purchase their own individual policies and are looking for better deals; and low-income people who will be steered by the marketplace to an expanded version of Medicaid in states that agree to expand that safety net program.
The Census estimates that about 48 million Americans lacked coverage in 2012, or more than 15 percent of the population.
Starting next year, the law requires virtually all Americans to have insurance or face a tax penalty after a coverage gap of three months.
Opinions are sharply divided on the overall framework of the law: 28 percent of Americans support it, 38 percent are opposed, and 32 percent don't have an opinion either way, the poll found. When asked specifically whether the government should be able to require all Americans to buy insurance or face a fine, only about 3 in 10 Americans agreed, and 68 percent were opposed.
The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 3-7 using KnowledgePanel, GfK's probability-based online panel. It involved online interviews with 1,227 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents. For results among the 76 respondents who attempted to use health insurance markets, the margin of error is plus or minus 13.5 percentage points.
- Created on 09 October 2013
Dr. Abhin Singala, a specialist at Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in the Chicago suburb of Joliet, said he's treating three people who took "krokodil," a cheap heroin knockoff from Russia known to cause such extreme gangrene and abscesses that a user's muscles, tendons and bones can become exposed.
Singla said according to the Sun-Times.
- Created on 07 October 2013
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is not only about pink ribbons and Breast Cancer alone, but about bringing awareness to proactive healthcare and catching cancer and other diseases before they can become harmful. It's important to know your body and be diligent in your healthcare. Getting our routine checkups and going to the doctor when noticing changes to our body is vital. Early detection is everything and saves lives. I know because I lived it.
A year ago this month, I was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). DCIS is a non-invasive, non life-threatening form of Breast Cancer that is not often discussed. In fact, I had never heard of this until it happened to me. After learning this, I underwent a double mastectomy with reconstruction to ease my fears of this disease. No chemo or radiation was needed! I now have less than a 1% chance of local or distant recurrence.
After visiting three doctors for what I noticed was a thickening in my breast, I was told there was nothing wrong with me. There was no palpable lump, so the doctors felt no reason to worry and I was given a routine ultrasound, which is given to most women under age 35 and still nothing.
But my gut, my discernment or what some might call the Holy Spirit led me to continue to seek answers and after my fourth doctor visit, I was finally given a referral for a mammogram. And sure enough, there were cancerous calcifications lodged in my milk ducts. At Stage 0, the cancer cells had not broken beyond the duct to become an invasive and potentially harmful cancer.
With that said, ladies please be diligent in your own health. This disease does NOT run in my family. Whether or not it runs in yours or not, be sure to do your routine check-ups and self breast exams. As an athlete of 15 years, I always watched my diet and considered myself generally healthy and so did my doctors. I've learned in most cases such as this, it's the patient who finds this disease.
Ladies, be in-tune with your mind, body and spirit and always listen to it because it will never steer you wrong. My gut led me to find this disease in its earliest, non-harmful form, and I am eternally grateful.
I hope this encourages every reader to be PROACTIVE and GET CHECKED!
About Michel Sproles: Michel Sproles is a businesswoman, mother of two and wife of New Orleans Saints Running Back, Darren Sproles. She is also an advocate for healthcare and encourages African Americans to get routine check ups in order to be and stay healthy. She believes that early detection saves lives and shares her testimony to urge others in her community to stay on top of their healthcare. Healthy living is not something to be taken for granted, and Michel strongly believes that knowing your body will save your body.
- Created on 04 October 2013
An estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 39,620 breast cancer deaths are expected to occur among U.S. women in 2013. And according to a report released this week by the American Cancer Society, an increasing number of them will be Black women.
Read here to see just how much breast cancer incidence rates are converging among white and African-American women, plus more notes on the black health chart this week.