CAMP 2013: The Affordable Care Act and how to cover it

By JAWS 2013 fellow Sarah D. Wire

JAWS CAMP 2013 ACA panel
From left: Julie Rovner, Sarah Kliff and Liz Seegert discuss the Affordable Care Act at CAMP 2013. Photo / Karen Cheung-Larivee

Moderator: Julie Rovner

Speakers: Liz Seegert, senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy and Sarah Kliff, health care policy reporter for the Washington Post.


Washington Post health care policy reporter Sarah Kliff said years after the Affordable Care Act passed people are still very confused.

“I think people have actually become less informed about it if you look at the polling,” Kliff said. “The Affordable Care Act is definitely complicated.”

She showed a clip from Jimmy Kimmel Live showing people who thought Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act were different laws.

Kliff and the Washington Post have created a series of videos explaining the act, including this one. She suggested biting off chunks of the law to write about instead of trying to address the whole thing at once.

Center for Health, Media & Policy Senior Fellow Liz Seegert said journalists should recognize that women access the system differently, and may think about plans including their spouse, children and parents.

“They need to understand how the entire system works,” Seegert said.

Insurance companies can no longer gender rate, or charge the sexes different rates, just because women are more likely to be pregnant or have an abusive spouse, she said.

“No longer does being female mean you have a preexisting condition,” Seegert said.

She said 47 million women should now be able to access preventive care, newborn care and well-women visits, such as pap smears, without a deductible or copay.

“There’s no excuse now,” Seegert said. “A lot of women don’t even know this.”

Seegert said women are more likely then men to dip in and out of the workforce and were more likely to be uninsured. She said the exchanges mean there is a greater chance of insurance following the women.

Kliff said about 7 percent of Americans will get their insurance through the exchanges, and many people won’t interact often with the law.

She said many Americans think the law was repealed.

Kliff warned against comparing individual premiums before and after the act went into place. She said it’s like comparing apples and ice cream.

“You’re talking about two completely different markets,” Kliff said.

Seegert urged reporters to take the time to explain the health-care terminology you are using, even basic terms like deductibles, copays and premiums.

“Try to help people make sense of it,” she said. “It’s not socialism, it’s not socialized medicine. It’s not communism. A lot of people don’t understand the facts of simple economics.”