Read Transcript of Today’s Oral Arguments in Supreme Court Obamacare Case

Today’s oral arguments in the latest Obamacare case to come before the Supreme Court are now over. Proponents of the law are worried that if the plaintiffs prevail, canceling subsidies to insurance buyers in the federal exchange, the Affordable Care Act could be heading for a death spiral. The Supreme Court website has put up a full transcript of the proceedings, which you can read here. A report on today’s events from Associated Press follows.

Here is AP’s write-up of today’s events:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court was sharply divided Wednesday in the latest challenge to President Barack Obama’s health overhaul, this time over the tax subsidies that make insurance affordable for millions of Americans.

The justices aggressively questioned lawyers on both sides of what Justice Elena Kagan called “this never-ending saga,” the latest politically charged fight over the Affordable Care Act.

Chief Justice John Roberts said almost nothing in nearly 90 minutes of back-and-forth, and Justice Anthony Kennedy’s questions did not make clear how he will come out. Roberts was the decisive vote to uphold the law in 2012.

Otherwise, the same liberal-conservative divide that characterized the earlier case was evident. Continue reading

Despite Obamacare, Why Some Choose to Skip Health Insurance

Scott Belsha says he opted out of buying health insurance because he has never had it and has managed to stay healthy (Stephanie O'Neill/NPR).

Scott Belsha says he opted out of buying health insurance because he has never had it and has managed to stay healthy (Stephanie O’Neill/NPR).

By Stephanie O’Neill, NPR

Despite a surge in enrollment in the two weeks before the April 15 deadline to enroll for health insurance under the federal health law, many more Californians still haven’t signed up, and they’re unlikely to.

Many people are uninterested, confused or skeptical.

Scott Belsha, from Long Beach, Calif., falls in the skeptical category.

“I’ve been consumed with living my life, and I’m fortunate to be healthy,” he says. He works as a musician and carpenter, and he’s never had health insurance. His parents, who own a small business, always paid cash for medical care, most of which they were able to get from a doctor friend.

“I haven’t ever been to the hospital or broken a bone,” he says. “But I’m 34, and I should probably start thinking about it.” Continue reading

Oakland Schools Help Parents Sign Up for Covered California

Gabino Pablo gets help with Covered Calfiornia enrollment as the deadline approaches. (Rachel Dornhelm/KQED)

Antonia Briones (left), an Alameda County Social Services Agency eligibility technician, helps Gabino Pablo (right) with Covered California enrollment as the deadline approaches. (Rachel Dornhelm/KQED)

The robocall went out this week to every parent of an Oakland public school student:

“Hello! This is the Oakland Unified School District calling to remind you that March 31st is the deadline for enrolling in health insurance … The OUSD Central Family Resource Center is here to help.”

The day after that call went out the Central Family Resource Center, housed in a small portable building. was swamped. Over a 100 calls came in and 30 families dropped by.

“We’re just getting flooded with calls and people dropping in asking for appointments so we’re all hands on deck trying to respond to the demand,” said Eliza Schiffrin, the center’s program coordinator. Continue reading

Anthem Blue Cross, Kaiser Extend Deadline to Pay Insurance Premiums

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By April Dembosky and Lisa Aliferis

If you signed up for a Covered California plan by the Dec. 23 deadline, Wednesday is the official deadline to pay your January premium.

That is, unless you are an Anthem Blue Cross or Kaiser Permanente customer — in which case you have a little more time.

  • If you’re a Kaiser member, you have until Jan. 22 to pay your January premium
  • If you’re an Anthem Blue Cross customer, you have until Jan. 31 (Update: On Jan. 16, HealthNet also extended its deadline to Jan. 31.)

If you’re in one of the other nine plans available statewide, you must pay your premium by midnight Wednesday night. Continue reading

No Obamacare Invoice? Keep Trying to Pay But Don’t Worry, Says Covered California

No one knows just how many Californians have not yet received their insurance invoice. Insurers say they have added staff to deal with large volume of new enrollees. (Getty Images)

The deadline to pay your premium for a health insurance plan bought through Covered California, the state’s Obamacare marketplace, has been extended to Jan 15. While insurance went into effect Jan. 1 for those who enrolled, you must pay the first month’s premium by Jan. 15 or you you will not be covered.

“If there was a good faith effort by an enrollee to start an application by Dec 23, everyone is honoring that,”- Covered California spokesperson Anne Gonzalez

As that date fast approaches, some enrollees who are well aware of the deadline and are ready, willing, and able to pay have been experiencing a problem: they can’t because their insurance company hasn’t sent them an invoice yet.

Until this week, this was my situation. I waited well over a month between the time I enrolled in a plan through Covered California and the insurance company I selected — Kaiser — sent me an invoice. I kept checking with Kaiser, and they kept telling me they had yet to receive the information from Covered California. And Covered California kept telling me to keep checking with Kaiser. Continue reading

Missed Last Monday’s Obamacare Deadline? You Can Still Enroll

Screenshot from, the website of Covered California.

Screenshot from, the website of Covered California.

The deadline to sign up on the Covered California marketplace for health insurance that takes effect Jan. 1 was Monday at midnight. But, if you started an application before that deadline, Covered California is giving you until 8pm Friday night to finish.

Here’s the catch — you cannot finish the process online. You must either contact the call center or work with a certified agent or enrollment counselor. [The call center number is 1-800-300-1506.]

Whether you are already enrolled in a plan or finishing the enrollment today, your first payment must be received by your health plan by Jan. 6, 2014. If you haven’t yet received a bill, you might want to contact the health plan. Continue reading

Covered California Won’t Extend Enrollment Deadline

By Olivia Hubert-Allen and the Associated Press

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said he is pleased with the number of young people who have enrolled so far. (Max Whitaker/Getty Images)

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said there are no plans to extend the deadline for those who want coverage by Jan. 1. (Max Whitaker/Getty Images)

Residents in California must sign up for health care plans through the Covered California exchange by the end of the day today to get coverage on Jan. 1. They will not push back the deadline, as the Obama administration announced it is doing for the 36 states using the federal health insurance exchange.

“If you want coverage to start on Jan. 1, you need to enroll today,” said Peter Lee, the director of Covered California.

As long as customers begin the process before the deadline, Covered California will honor those who are still completing their applications into the next day.

“If someone starts that application process today, we’re going to get them across the finish line,” Lee said. “It’s like the election. If you’re in line when the polls closed, you can vote.”

On Friday, Covered California had the largest single-day of enrollment, with 29,000 Californians enrolling in plans. The group is expecting today could be even larger.


Obamacare FAQ: The Deadline is Monday — What You Need to Know

State of Health editor Lisa Aliferis talked with KQED Newsroom’s Thuy Vu about the upcoming enrollment deadline. People who want health insurance that starts Jan. 1 need to enroll by 11:59pm Mon. Dec. 23.

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You can also check out KQED’s Obamacare Guide — Just for Californians for a straightforward explanation of what the Affordable Care Act means to you and your family with answers to a multitude of frequently asked questions.

Obamacare FAQ: Are You Eligible for a Subsidy?

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Editor’s note: For people buying on the individual market who want health insurance starting Jan. 1, the deadline to sign up is Monday, Dec. 23. State of Health is running one post a day with questions and answers on both the Affordable Care Act and Covered California until that deadline. This installment comes from KQED’s Obamacare Guide, written specifically for Californians.

I’ve Heard the Government Is Offering Subsidies to Buy Insurance. Tell Me More.

You may qualify for a subsidy — in the form of a tax credit — to help you pay for health insurance. Tax credits are available on a sliding scale, according to your income. More than 2 million Californians will qualify for a tax credit.

If you earn between 138 and 400 percent of poverty ($15,850 – $46,000 for an individual; $32,500 – $94,200 for a family of four), you may qualify for a federal tax credit. The credit will be applied to the cost of your premium. You choose when you want to receive the credit. You might want to receive it monthly, so that you will pay less each month, or you may elect to receive it all at once when you file your taxes in the following year. Continue reading

Obamacare FAQ: Your Questions Answered on KQED’s Forum

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Just a week to go. The deadline to enroll in health insurance starting Jan. 1 is next Monday, Dec. 23.

This morning on KQED’s Forum, Emily Bazar, of the Center for Health Reporting, and I answered listener questions about enrolling in insurance via Covered California.

Host Michael Krasny started by asking us some of the basics. Yes, you can still buy coverage after Dec. 23; open enrollment runs until Mar. 31, 2014. After that, if you don’t have health insurance, you will likely need to pay a penalty, $95 per adult or 1 percent of your income, whichever is greater. Continue reading