A little over a year ago, I didn’t know much about health insurance, except that I had it. Well that all changed when I was assigned to cover the Affordable Care Act in 2013.
In Nevada, we have a state based exchange, and our state figures showed many Nevadans didn’t have health insurance, especially in the Latino community.
When the insurance came online through the exchange, the learning process started rolling.
Much like the reports we heard about healthcare.gov, there were also problems in enrolling through the Nevada exchange Nevada Health Link. The process moved forward, and people were enrolled, but not as many as projected.
There lies a situation yet to be uncovered. For those in communities across the country who chose not to enroll, or missed the deadlines, penalties are coming. It will show up when people start filing their taxes.
For those journalists assigned to cover the ACA or health insurance, the stories are numerous. It’s not too late to start, as open enrollment begins its second year.
Lower income communities will be impacted greatly by the new federal law requiring all Americans to have health insurance. Whether they buy a plan through the exchange in their state, or qualify for Medicaid, they must enroll.
To learn more about insurance issues, find the navigators, or insurance brokers in your communities. They can guide you to further understand the intricacies.
What are the efforts being done to disseminate this information in other languages? In Nevada, there was great need to explain and to help people enroll who speak Spanish.
This additional expense will impact families’ budgets, another factor to consider in decisions to enroll or not. Hospitals and doctors offices will also be impacted by the new influx of patients who are now insured.
The issue is not without controversy. Whether people believe mandated affordable insurance is a dream come true, or is a bad idea, it’s still in effect.
Those involved with providing the insurance through the federal government, or through the individual states that wanted to operate their own exchanges, now have at least one year of experience under their belts.
With glitches, complications, and other frustrations that evolved during the first year of enrollment, government insurance leaders, and insurance carriers are hoping for a smoother ride with this second year rolling out.
Covering this activity has become a new beat in newsrooms and if your newsroom hasn’t designated a reporter to this topic, this would be a great beat to grab. The impact of insurance on the community is far-reaching, and the stories are numerous. Health affects all of us, and this is an arena that will continue to grow.
Sandra Gonzalez is former SPJ Diversity Committee Chair, and is a general assignment reporter at KSNV-TV in Las Vegas.