Affordable Care Act

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    ASK EMILY: Big bills lurk in specialty drug category

    BY EMILY BAZAR CHCF Center for Health Reporting
    Tuesday, Jul 29 2014 04:00 AM

    Another in a series of Q&A columns answering consumers' questions about the Affordable Care Act.  

    It used to be that your health plan's annual out-of-pocket maximum was more like the safety net under a high wire: You sure were glad it was there, but you didn't actually plan to use it.

    These days, it could take one measly trip to the pharmacy for you to lose your balance and fall into that net. I'm sorry (yet again) to report that recent changes in drug pricing mean more of you will face sticker shock when you fill prescriptions, and that more of you will be on the hook for thousands of dollars as a result.

      Q: My health plan splits prescription drugs into four categories, including "specialty" drugs. What are they?

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    ASK EMILY: Will my Medi-Cal renewal get backlogged, too?

    Let's start with some good news (because everything is relative): The backlog of Medi-Cal applications that I called "monumental" last month is now merely "massive." About 600,000 people -- some of whom applied last year -- are still...

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    ASK EMILY: Months after applying, legions stuck waiting for Medi-Cal

    "One stop shop." "No wrong door." State officials have used those phrases since last year to describe the new, easier, more efficient Medi-Cal application process. But something happened between their mouths and reality: "A hole fell...

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    ASK EMILY: Network nightmares: When your doctor and hospital don't mix

    What good is it to have a health plan if you can't find doctors and hospitals to accept it? That question rushes to mind every time a frustrated reader writes in to describe his or her Kafkaesque quest to find care. I'm also hearing from...

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    ASK EMILY: Think you know what your Obamacare plan will cost you? Think again.

    Obamacare's inaugural open-enrollment period is over, and all you enrollees can breathe easy now. Someday I'd like to write that sentence and mean it, but not today. Instead, it's time to take a look at an unwelcome surprise that is...

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    ASK EMILY: As enforcer of Obamacare, the IRS faces limits

    Americans love their tax refunds. I know I do. So why is conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh advising his listeners to avoid them? In a word, Obamacare. "If you structure your taxes so that you do not get a refund, you do not...

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    ASK EMILY: More time to avoid the Obamacare tax penalty

    In my last column, I warned you that March 31 was your last chance to sign up for a health plan from Covered California or the private market if you wanted to get health coverage this year. So much for that. You now have until 11:59 p.m....

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    Obamacare procrastinators endure long waits, crashing website

    The state jumped through all sorts of hoops to make sure it was ready for a deluge of applications on the last day of open enrollment for Covered California Monday. Didn't work. The Covered California health insurance exchange portal...

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    ASK EMILY: Last chance: The Obamacare deadline is here

    Here it comes, folks, the deadline that I have been harping on for months: March 31 marks the end of Obamacare's inaugural open-enrollment period and your last chance to sign up for a health plan through the state's health insurance...

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    ASK EMILY: Managing your money under Obamacare

    My inbox is brimming with your personal Obamacare stories, and most of them aren't joyous odes to the new health law. Sure, I've received a handful of emails from satisfied customers, but most of the happy people don't have much reason to...

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    ASK EMILY: Consumers getting lost in Obamacare's mazes

    To the people who run Covered California, the Medi-Cal program and health insurance companies: I know what a massive, confusing experiment Obamacare is. I know you're creating new rules, building new computer systems, hiring new staff...

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    ASK EMILY: Obamacare's other story: Medi-Cal has its own glitches

    State officials have been crowing that more than 400,000 Californians have enrolled in plans through the state's health insurance exchange, Covered California. However, another important statistic is getting lost in the exchange hubbub,...

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    Sign-up volume high for California health exchange

    SACRAMENTO -- Californians were responding to Monday's deadline for gaining health insurance with heavy activity on the marketplace's website and call centers.Covered California, the agency operating the exchange, had no current plans to...

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