Affordable Care Act

The 22 states that didn't expand Medicaid eligibility as part of Obamacare last year saw their costs to provide health care to the poor rise twice as fast as states that extended benefits to more low-income residents.

It's a counterintuitive twist for those states whose governors, most Republicans who opposed the Affordable Care Act, chose not to accept federal funds to extend Medicaid to more people.

health insurance cards and dollar bills
Lindsey Whelchel / Oklahoma Watch

The Affordable Care Act health insurance market in Oklahoma faces big changes next year, with the dominant company moving 40,000 people into different plans and three other companies dropping out entirely.

On Jan. 1, Oklahoma will be left with only two companies offering individual health plans in the “Obamacare” market:  Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma, the existing market leader, and UnitedHealthcare, a new entry.

As a member of the Navajo tribe, Rochelle Jake has received free care through the Indian Health Service her entire life. The IHS clinics took care of her asthma, allergies and eczema — chronic problems, nothing urgent.

Recently, though, she felt sharp pains in her side. Her doctor recommended an MRI and other tests she couldn't get through IHS. To pay for them, he urged her to sign up for private insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

health insurance cards and dollar bills
Lindsey Whelchel / Oklahoma Watch

Affordable Care Act health insurance rates are expected to rise in Oklahoma in 2016, and the state Insurance Department insists it cannot do anything about rates except review and approve the paperwork.

In the past, however, the department held a somewhat different view, according to a former high-ranking state insurance official.

health insurance cards and dollar bills
Lindsey Whelchel / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahomans who buy health insurance for next year from the largest insurer on the Affordable Care Act marketplace could face double-digit rate increases running as high as 44 percent, filings with the federal government show. 

Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals / Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals

A federal appeals court in Denver has ruled that the federal health care law doesn't infringe on the religious freedom of faith-based nonprofit organizations that object to covering birth control in employee health plans.

The case involves a group of Colorado nuns and four Christian colleges in Oklahoma.

Oklahomans who purchase health insurance policies next year from the leadinginsurer in the Affordable Care Act marketplace could face unsubsidized rate increases averaging 31 percent, Oklahoma Watch data research shows.

That’s how much Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma has asked the federal government to approve, on average, for all of its “Obamacare”-compliant individual health policies in 2016, according to an actuarial memo filed by the insurer.The proposal doesn’t apply to policies offered through employers.

health insurance cards and dollar bills
Lindsey Whelchel / Oklahoma Watch

Two private health insurance companies participating in the Affordable Care Act market in Oklahoma are expected to leave the program next year, while another big insurer wants in.

The shuffle, which would occur on Jan. 1, illustrates the rapid evolution of the “Obamacare” health insurance marketplace as it approaches its third year of operation. Some insurers are finding it difficult to make a profit on Affordable Care Act policies, while others see an opportunity that could pay off big over time.

Demonstrators gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. after Friday's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
Ted Eytan / Flickr

Republican lawmakers, chafing after the U.S. Supreme Court shot down bans on same-sex marriage and upheld a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, could push back with new bills in the 2016 session, two state lawmakers said Tuesday.

The proposals could come in the form of resolutions denouncing the rulings and bills aimed at protecting those who would oppose same-sex marriage, the lawmakers said. The moves would also appeal to many Republicans' conservative base during the 2016 election cycle.

Demonstrators gather outside the Supreme Court on Thursday after the ruling that Affordable Care Act subsidies are constitutional.
Ted Eytan / Flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act means that more than 80,000 Oklahomans can continue to receive federal subsidies to help them pay for health insurance.

It will be days, possibly weeks, before the full impact of the ruling is assessed. In this Q&A, Oklahoma Watch addresses some of the immediate issues raised by the ruling.