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Feds tout NC benefits of Obamacare

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As the Oct. 1 enrollment date approaches for federally subsidized insurance, the White House has gone on a PR offensive to counter conservative critics about the health care law many call Obamacare.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services this week issued state by state updates about the law, listing the benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

It's part of a broader strategy that includes the launching of a non-profit "Truth Team" at a time that Congressional Republicans are making their 40th attempt to repeal or weaken the health care law.

The North Carolina version of the federal agency's release notes that 1.3 million people, or 17 percent of the state's population, is uninsured. Many will qualify for subsidies, averaging $5,000 a year, to offset annual insurance costs.

The feds also note that nearly 200,000 North Carolina residents who do have insurance will benefit from $9.8 million in refunds, averaging $87 per family. Health insurers are now required to spent at least 80 percent of premium dollars on health care, and refund any money spent in excess of the limit.

North Carolina's 32 community health centers have received $96.2 million under the health care law to fund and expand operations. Most recently, they received $4.1 million in grants to provide outreach and enrollment to help residents sign up for subsidized policies created by the Affordable Care Act.

The health care law prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage for preexisting conditions and charging based on gender, and limits excessive charging to older people. It only allows for three factors to set rates: age, smoking and area of residence.

Three insurers plan to offer a total of 67 coverage plans across North Carolina, but most people will have a choice of just a handful of options.

Enrollment begins in October and coverage begins Jan. 1. For more info, go to www.HealthCare.gov.

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About the blogger

John Murawski has been a full-time newspaper reporter since 1991, with stints at Legal Times and The Chronicle of Philanthropy (both in Washington, DC), The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Palm Beach Post (in South Florida) before arriving at the N&O in December 2004. At the N&O he covers energy (nuclear, coal, renewable, efficiency), hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking"), public utilities and health care. His beat includes PSNC Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, Duke Energy Progress, PowerSecure International, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Biogen Idec and others. He has also contributed more than 30 book reviews on topics spanning botany, history, science and religion. You can reach him at 919-829-8932 or e-mail him.
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