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January 2, 2014

Relief, confusion as new health benefits begin

(Continued)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —

“We are doing everything we can to ensure these individuals receive the coverage they’ve applied for as quickly as possible,” department spokesman Eric Kiehl said.
Once the applicants are enrolled in Medicaid, coverage will be retroactive to Jan. 1, he said.
Even before the January start of coverage, health insurance companies said they were receiving thousands of erroneous sign-up applications from the government, and some people who thought they had enrolled for coverage have not received confirmation.
Some states, including Minnesota and Rhode Island, extended their sign-up period until the final day of 2013, leading to a last-minute crush of paperwork for insurers. Call center wait times in Minnesota extended beyond two hours on Tuesday, a possible sign of heavy consumer interest.
 
Anticipating disruptions, major drug store chains such as CVS and Walgreens have announced they will help customers who face coverage questions, even providing temporary supplies of medications without insisting on up-front payment. Many smaller independent pharmacies also are ready to help.
 
Some parts of the Affordable Care Act took effect previously, such as the ability of young people to remain on their parents’ insurance policies until age 26.
 
Others have been delayed until 2015, including the law’s requirement that companies with 50 or more workers must provide affordable coverage or pay fines. The administration says it’s trying to iron out burdensome reporting requirements.

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