WASHINGTON (AP) — Sick of hearing about the health care law?
Plenty of people have tuned out after all the political jabber and website woes.
But now is the time to tune back in, before it's too late.
The big deadline is coming March 31.
By that day, for the first time, nearly everyone in the United States is required to be signed up for health insurance or risk paying a fine.
There's a lot to know about this month's open enrollment countdown.
Most people don't need to do anything.
Even before the law was passed in 2010, more than 8 out of 10 U.S. residents had coverage, usually through their workplace plans or Medicare or Medicaid.
If you're already covered that way, you meet the law's requirements.
Consumers shopping for health insurance on the exchanges are getting another reprieve from the Federal Government.
Anyone looking to start coverage on January 1 was supposed to sign up by tonight. Regulators extended the deadline for people to enroll until the end of Christmas Eve.
In Missouri 16 percent of residents under the age of 65 are uninsured.
A clinic that serves mostly the uninsured and under-insured in St. Louis is closing its doors. St. Louis ConnectCare has announced it will close the Smiley Urgent Care Center November 15th.
The non-profit had announced in August it would shut down its specialty services, but now says it must also close the clinic at the old Regional Hospital on Delmar.
St. Louis Regional Health Commission Chief Robert Fruend believes other health care providers will follow suit because of state budget cuts. Fruend told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that 1,000 healthcare jobs have been lost in the region in the last six months.
The paper reports a Missouri Hospital Association estimate that the state will lose $4 billion in health care funding over the next six years, mainly from budget cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. They say the decision by Missouri lawmakers not to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act will further limit the amount of health care funds coming into the state.
WHEELING, Ill. (AP) - Insurance brokers in Illinois say they're frustrated with the troubled rollout of President Barack Obama's health care law and the crippled federal website, healthcare.gov.
At a meeting of brokers Wednesday in the Chicago suburb of Wheeling, many of them vented their feelings to Max Fletcher, a policy analyst for the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace.
Brokers also are worried that their profession is being threatened. They want to get the word out that they can help people and small businesses shop for health insurance.
Fletcher told the brokers to call on their legislators to support a state-run health insurance marketplace. He says Illinois could do a better job running its own system, although he concedes that's not likely to be a serious consideration in Springfield during the current veto session.
The online health insurance exchanges are now open in both Missouri and Illinois. The online marketplace is a key component of the federal health care law.
Illinois officials have set up their own marketplace at GetCoveredIllinois.gov.
Missouri voters chose to bar their government from setting up its own marketplace. So the federal government is running the exchange for Missouri residents at Healthcare.gov.
Consumers have until December 15th to sign up if they want coverage to start on January 1, but enrollment is open until March 31.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri residents can begin enrolling Tuesday for health coverage offered through a new online insurance marketplace. But some supporters of the initiative are advising people to wait a while.
The health insurance exchanges are a key part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act signed by President Barack Obama. Though enrollment starts Tuesday, people can wait until December 15th to sign up and still be included when the insurance coverage starts January 1st.
The Missouri Foundation for Health is one of the many nonprofit groups spreading the word about the new insurance options. Foundation vice president Ryan Barker says there likely will be glitches when the website launches. He encourages people to check out the site, do some research and take some time to think about it before enrolling.
Flu season is just around the corner, and now is the time to protect yourself against the disease...for free.
This weekend, Barnes Jewish Hospital will be offering free flu shots clinics.
A clinic is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in North County at the Shalom Church City of Peace Health Fair.
Another is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, Medical Office Building 2.
It is recommended that anyone over six month old get a flu vaccine.
Part time employees at one of the metro area's biggest healthcare providers may soon lose their health insurance.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that BJC Healthcare is preparing to cut health insurance benefits for employees who work less than 24 hours each week.
The paper cites two part time nurses as saying that managers and Human Resources representatives recently began informing certain employees of the plan. Hospital official declined to comment on any planned changes, but did tell the paper that they are in the process of sharing their 2014 benefits plan with employees.
The change of policy could affect thousands of workers at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children's Hospital, Christian Hospital and other BJC hospitals, outpatient centers and clinics.
A new report gives both Missouri and Illinois poor marks for delivering health care services to low-income residents. The Commonwealth Fund's scorecard was released Wednesday.
The report looks at 30 health indicators regarding health care coverage, prevention and treatment of low-income people -- defined as 200-percent of the federal poverty level. That's about $23,000 a year for an individual or $47,000 for a family of four.
According to the report, Missouri ranks 44th out of 51 states and DC. Illinois does slightly better at 36th. Hawaii ranked first among the states and Mississippi was last.
The complete report, along with an interactive map, can be found on the Commonwealth Fund's website.