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Obamacare deadline looms

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Time is running out for Michiganders who still need to sign up for health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act. 

February 15th is the deadline to sign up or face a penalty.

The initial roll out of Obamacare was marked by numerous problems.  Computer glitches frustrated tens of thousands of Michiganders who tried to log on to the online marketplace. 

“If you want to make some kind of comparison, the glitches this year are almost non-existent,” says Dizzy Warren, with Enroll Michigan.

She says the second year of Obamacare has gone much smoother than the first.

“It’s a combination of a lot of different things,” says Warren, “Less glitches, more outreach, more targeting and more awareness from the general public.”

Last year, 273,000 Michiganders signed up for health insurance through Obamacare. By mid-January, 299,000 Michiganders had already signed up.  About a third of those signing up were new enrollees. 

Despite the large number of people who’ve already signed up for health insurance, different groups are planning to make a final push to sign up more.

Phillip J. Bergquist is the Director of Health Center Operations with the Michigan Primary Care Association

“Those events are centering in community centers, in neighborhood library branches,” says Bergquist.

But while some in Michigan are busy trying to make Obamacare work, others are trying to scrap the law. 

Rep. Fred Upton this month released a plan to replace Obamacare. The plan calls for dumping mandates in the law, while retaining tax credits to help people afford insurance plans. 

The ACA tax credits face an uncertain future. 

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case next monthchallenging the legality of tax credits extended to people living in states, like Michigan, where the federal government oversees the online marketplace.   Critics say the tax credits are only authorized by the national healthcare law in those states with state exchanges. 

More than 80% of Michiganders getting health insurance coverage through Obamacare receive some level of subsidy.   

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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