affordable care act

United States Census Bureau

The number of uninsured residents in Missouri and throughout the U.S. is down, according to the 2014 American Community Survey. The United States Census Bureau released the survey Wednesday as the first compilation of data since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act.

The survey showed 8.8 million fewer Americans were uninsured under the first year of the Affordable Care Act. Dr. Timothy McBride, a health economist at Washington University in St. Louis, said it's the first national report on the ACA.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

When Darvin Bentlage needed colon surgery in 2007, he had an expensive stay at the hospital.

“The room alone for a week was $25,000,” Bentlage says. Add in the cost of the procedure and, “it added up to about $60,000 or $70,000.”

Hope Kirwan / KBIA

Several months remain until the next open enrollment period for health insurance, but any insurance company looking to raise the cost of their plans next year had to submit their proposed increase by June 1.

In Missouri, seven insurance companies submitted rate increases for 11 different plans, with proposed raises ranging between 11 and 28 percent. Almost every company who submitted a rate increase cited the rising cost of healthcare as a reason for the change.

Privately run Medicare plans, fresh off a lobbying victory that reversed proposed budget cuts, face new scrutiny from government investigators and whistleblowers who allege that plans have overcharged the government for years.

The Affordable Care Act requires all Americans to get health insurance or pay a penalty. To help coax people to buy a health plan, the federal government now subsidizes premiums for millions of Americans.

MU Will Continue to Stay in the Health Insurance Business

Mar 31, 2015
columns at university of missouri
File Photo / KBIA

Colleges across the nation are discussing whether or not to continue to offer health insurance plans to their students. High plan costs for students and provisions in the Affordable Care Act are some of the main factors driving the decision.

With yet another do-or-die test of Obamacare before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, the justices were sharply divided.

By the end of the argument, it was clear that the outcome will be determined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy. The chief justice said almost nothing during the argument, and Kennedy sent mixed signals, seeming to give a slight edge to the administration's interpretation of the law.

Judging by the comments from the remaining justices, the challengers would need the votes of both Roberts and Kennedy to win.

Round 2 in the legal battle over Obamacare hits the Supreme Court's intellectual boxing ring Wednesday.

In one corner is the Obama administration, backed by the nation's hospitals, insurance companies, physician associations and other groups like Catholic Charities and the American Cancer Society.

In the other corner are conservative groups, backed by politicians who fought in Congress to prevent the bill from being adopted.

Teddy Nykiel / KBIA News

Residents from across Missouri attended a press conference at the Missouri State Capitol on Wednesday to discuss the possibilities of Medicaid expansion in the state.

Five panelists led the conference and told their stories about being a part of the coverage gap. This term describes the situation of people who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but don’t earn enough money to pay for health insurance or qualify for incentives through the Affordable Care Act.

  It’s no secret that health insurance can be a confusing topic.

“There's not a ton of health insurance literacy,” said Aaron Swaney, Outreach Enrollment Specialist for the Family Health Center in Columbia. ”But that's true from people who have never had health insurance before to people who work in the healthcare field.”  


House Republicans on Friday followed through on a threat to sue President Obama over actions he has taken concerning the Affordable Care Act.

The lawsuit was filed in a federal court against the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Treasury.

On a recent afternoon at his office in Hartford, Conn., Dr. Doug Gerard examines a patient complaining of joint pain. He checks her out, asks her a few questions about her symptoms and then orders a few tests before sending her on her way.

For a typical quick visit like this, Gerard could get reimbursed $100 or more from a private insurer. For the same visit, Medicare pays less — about $80. And now, with the new private plans under the Affordable Care Act, Gerard says he would get something in between, but closer to the lower Medicare rates.

COM SALUD / Flickr


Almost 800,000 uninsured Missourians became eligible for coverage through the federal health insurance marketplace earlier this year. As the state continues to consider extending coverage to even more individuals through Medicaid expansion, the need for primary care doctors will increase as well.

jfcherry / Flickr

The federal government agency that oversees applications for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act says that the computer problems which plagued early sign-ups are to blame for problems at a suburban St. Louis processing center.

David Sachs / SEIU


  By now Missourians are familiar with the debate over expanding Medicaid in the state.

The Affordable Care Act gives most people the opportunity to purchase health insurance with help from federal tax credits. But individuals earning too little to qualify for these tax credits but too much to be covered under for Missouri Medicaid are stuck in what is called “The Gap.”

Rosemary / Flickr

The US Department of Health and Human Services released data Thursday showing that 152,335 Missourians are enrolled in health insurance marketplace plans. The number of enrollees more than doubled in March alone, the total exceeding the federal goal by 29 percent.

Data also showed, however, that 300,000 people in the state are unable to get insurance due to ineligibility for Medicaid or financial help in the marketplace.

Vitualis / Flickr

A new report says more than 150,000 Missouri residents signed up for health insurance policies through a federally run website.

Véronique LaCapra / St. Louis Public Radio


For years in most states, Medicaid eligibility had been limited to disabled adults, seniors needing long-term care and very low-income parents with their children.

Then along came the Affordable Care Act. It was designed to grow health insurance coverage across the board. One of its tenets was to expand Medicaid coverage beyond the extremely poor and disabled to include all adults earning up to 138 percent of federal poverty levels.

But in 2012, the Supreme Court gave states the chance to opt out Medicaid expansion.

Illinois is one of 25 states that went ahead with expanding the program. Neighboring Missouri did not.

We looked into the impacts of those differing decisions. Here’s what we found out.

Katie Hiler / KBIA


We’ve been hearing a lot about the Affordable Care Act from a number of politicians - Governor Jay Nixon, Senator Roy Blunt, and, of course, President Obama, to name a few.  These people can talk about the number of people insured and weigh the cost versus economic impact. But behind those numbers they’re citing are people, Missourians. Those dollar figures they throw around, that’s money in and out of our pockets. So how do Missourians who have been trying to utilize the new healthcare law feel about it? 

The Obama administration says it will give people more time to sign up for health insurance through the federal online marketplace.

missouri capitol
Jacob Fenston / KBIA

Several Republican state senators are making it clear that there will be no expansion of Medicaid eligibility this year in Missouri.

Five GOP senators took to the Senate floor Monday as the Legislature returned from spring break to say they will block any attempt to expand Medicaid eligibility during the session that ends in mid-May.


An associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Law is involved in a case that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court this week.

Josh Hawley is on a team of about 15 lawyers working on Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Inc. The case addresses whether businesses can use religious objections to avoid a requirement to provide insurance coverage for birth control for employees.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

The Affordable Care Act’s online health insurance marketplace has been open for business since October 1 and technical issues that plagued the website early on have mostly been resolved. Yet Missouri residents have been slow to sign-up for health insurance under the new law. According to the nonprofit group Kaiser Family Foundation, only 40 percent of Missourians eligible to enroll have actually chosen a plan. I spoke with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about why signing up is important for Missouri residents, particularly in rural areas.  

A report issued Tuesday by the federal Department of Health and Human Services found that almost 200,000 Latinos in Missouri may have new options for health coverage. The report says they might qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or for lower costs on premiums  through the Health Insurance Marketplace. 43,000 of the eligible Missouri Latinos are currently uninsured, the report says.

Aaron Swaney, outreach and enrollment specialist at the Family Health Center, said the center does have a sizable portion of patients who are uninsured and Latino.

jay nixon
File Photo / KBIA

Gov. Jay Nixon is reiterating his push for Medicaid reform, saying expanding the program would cover the 50,000 currently uninsured Missourians who need mental health services.

nomadsoul1 / dreamstime

At his sixth State of the State address Tuesday, Gov. Jay Nixon renewed his push to expand Medicaid, the health insurance program for the low-income population, in Missouri. He was careful, though, not to mention the “e” word itself. Instead, the governor called lawmakers to work on reforming the program.

“I look forward to working with all of you to bring affordable health coverage to working families in Missouri, and reform Medicaid the Missouri way,” said Nixon.

Rosemary / Flickr

This Monday marks another big deadline under the Affordable Care Act. That's the last day that people can sign up for insurance through the online marketplace and have their coverage begin on January 1.

Harum Helmy / KBIA News


On an afternoon in early December, 60-year-old Columbia resident Jeannie Wyble sits in a small cubicle at Columbia’s Family Health Center, telling Aaron Swaney, a application counselor, about the heart attack she suffered in 2002.

“I quit smoking when I had my heart attack,” Wyble said. “Smoked my last cigarette on the way to the ER, never smoked another one.”

At the time, Wyble was still insured through her husband’s union plan. But after the heart attack, the insurance company began increasing her monthly premium. Wyble says at one point, she had to pay almost $500 a month.

“And then when we found out they were going to jump even more again the following January,” Wyble said. “It was very clear to us that we couldn’t pay my premiums anymore and that mine would just have to be dropped. In effect, [the insurance company] decided to get rid of me, and it worked. They did. They got rid of me.”

Harum Helmy / KBIA

Consumers who want to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act have until Monday to enroll in a plan that would start on Jan. 1. But still has kinks that frustrate many consumers and navigators. KBIA’s Harum Helmy followed one Columbia resident’s journey with the website. 

Alan Cleaver / flickr


As an Affordable Care Act navigator, Kate King has been traveling to counties throughout central Missouri spreading awareness of and getting Missourians enrolled in  

King works with the Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging, which serves a 19-county area, 17 of them rural. The agency is part of a nonprofit alliance that received $750,000 in federal grants in August to help with outreach.