Government-Funded NPR Boosts '5 Tips To Get the Most Out of Obamacare'

On Monday, NPR's health blog touted a pro-ObamaCare item from Kaiser Health News, which is a program of the left-leaning Kaiser Family Foundation (and a partner of the public radio network). Journalist Mary Agnes Carey offered a "quick checklist" for those who "shop for coverage on the health law's online exchanges," since the open enrollment period for the exchanges begins on November 15, 2014.

Carey led her item, "5 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Obamacare" on, with a simple question: "The second open enrollment season for health insurance offered through marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act is just around the corner. Are you ready?" She continued by noting the November 15 date: "Enrollment starts Nov. 15, but you can start kicking the tires now."

The writer, who previously worked for Congressional Quarterly and Dow Jones Newswires, then gave a one-sentence summary of her tips: "Compare plans and prices at or, if your state has its own exchange, shop there to find out which coverage is best for you. And you may be eligible for subsidies to help pay your premium." Carey first advised potential enrollees to "shop around," and explained what she meant by this:

Just because you're enrolled in a policy now doesn't mean it's the best deal for you next year. If you're currently in the federal marketplace and don't take any action, you'll be re-enrolled in the same plan. Federal officials, as well as many analysts, are urging consumers to go back to the exchanges to compare plans and prices. You might discover that you have more — or different — choices than you had a year ago.

Later in the article, Carey counseled would-be ObamaCare customers to "enter your most up-to-date income information on or with your state exchange to see if you are entitled to receive a tax credit toward the cost of your health insurance....This is important because if you get too much of a subsidy, you'll have to repay it when you file your taxes the following year." However, she failed to mention that the legality of extending the subsidies to the federal health care exchanges has been challenged, and that the Supreme Court will be hearing the case in its upcoming term. The journalist spent her final two tips underlining that potential enrollees should "know all costs," and to "get help if you need it."

Interestingly, the Kaiser Health News journalist spotlighted an ongoing flaw in the controversial health program in her second tip:

Don't Get Billed Twice: Insurers have expressed concerns that if a consumer changes plans, problems with the federal website might keep insurers from learning of the change and consumers could get billed for both plans. "It's an issue we're aware of, and we're working with exchange officials to make sure there's a solution for consumers," said Clare Krusing, a spokeswoman for America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group. Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said insurers will get lists of individuals who have been automatically enrolled into their current plan as well as those who chose to re-enroll. He also said the agency is "examining options" on how to provide insurers the names of people who picked another plan during open enrollment.

This isn't the first time NPR has promoted the upcoming ObamaCare enrollment period. Back in April 2014, Julie Rovner, who was a NPR correspondent at the time (and has since moved on to be the "the Robin Toner Distinguished Fellow" at Kaiser Health News), boosted a list of policy changes from the liberal organization Families USA. Rovner also boasted about the supposed success of the first enrollment period.

— Matthew Balan is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Matthew Balan on Twitter.