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Kaiser Health Policy News Index: May 2014

The Kaiser Health Policy News Index is designed to help journalists and policymakers understand which health policy-related news stories Americans are paying attention to, and what the public understands about health policy issues covered in the news. This month’s Index finds that news about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment numbers was followed by more than half the public, ranking behind two non-health news stories (the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls and the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia).

The Affordable Care Act and Insurance Coverage in Rural Areas

Rural populations face disparities compared to metropolitan populations in health care. While rural individuals were not more likely to be uninsured than metropolitan counterparts pre-Affordable Care Act, they were poorer and less likely to have private insurance. With coverage changes in the ACA involving an expansion of Medicaid for poor and near-poor populations, decisions by states with large rural populations may cause rural residents to have disparate access to coverage, which may exacerbate cost and access barriers to health care.

Why Public Interest Is Cooling in Obamacare as a Political Story 

In his latest column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman reviews indicators pointing to the Affordable Care Act cooling as a front-page issue, while hot debate continues about it among partisans and experts. All previous columns by Drew Altman are available online.

Sen. Mark Pryor Spotlights the Health Law’s Rx for Pre-Existing Illnesses

In his latest column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman explains why Senator Mark Pryor’s new campaign ad features the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions, the somewhat forgotten “mega provision” of the law. All previous columns by Drew Altman are available online.

How Does Where You Work Affect Your Contraceptive Coverage?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires most private health insurance plans to provide coverage for a broad range of preventive services including FDA approved prescription contraceptives and services for women. Legal challenges and recently issued rules have affected contraceptive coverage for many women.

Individual Market Enrollment Ticks Up in Early 2014

This early look at the growth in the individual or nongroup market during the first three months of 2014 uses first quarter enrollment data submitted by insurance companies to state regulators to estimate the size of the market at the end of March. It includes both on and off exchange enrollment and is net of any people leaving the market (whether through plan cancellations or general churn in the market). It does not include the surge of enrollment that occurred toward the end of the open enrollment period as those enrollees most likely began their coverage in April or May.

What’s Driving the GOP Health Plan

Drew Altman, in The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, discusses the push by Conservative House Republicans for a vote on a GOP health care plan and uses public opinion polling to explain the push as an appeal to the Republican base in an election year.

The Washington State Health Care Landscape

This fact sheet provides an overview of population health, health coverage, and health care delivery in Washington under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).