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Missed the health insurance deadline? Here are 5 ways to get covered, maybe avoid a fine

WASHINGTON - It's not too late to get covered. A few routes remain open for those who missed the health care law's big enrolment deadline. Millions may be eligible for a second chance to sign up for subsidized insurance this year. And people who get coverage after the deadline can still avoid, or at least reduce, the fine for going uninsured. Here are five options for those still without insurance: ___ 1. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE GRACE PERIOD

Hydro, ferry rate increases on April 1 has critic saying B.C. means 'Bring Cash'

VANCOUVER - Critics of the B.C. government say there will be nothing funny about April Fool's Day, when ferry and electricity rates go up and increase costs for middle-class families and people living on fixed incomes. BC Hydro is hiking rates by nine per cent, the first in a decade of annual increases that will see fees jump by nearly 40 per cent. Passengers using BC Ferries will also pay about four per cent more on major and minor routes — increases meant to cover rising operating, fuel, capital-replacement and labour costs.

Monday is the deadline to sign up for coverage under Obama health law

Monday is the deadline to sign up for private health insurance in the new online markets created by President Barack Obama's health care law. So far, about 4 out of every 5 people enrolling have qualified for tax credits to reduce the cost of their premiums. Here's what you need to know: — The deadline is Mar. 31 at midnight EDT for the states where the federal government is running the sign-up website; states running their own exchanges set their own deadlines.

Private clinics misleading and overcharging patients: public health advocates

TORONTO - Many private clinics in Ontario are misleading patients and billing them for medically unnecessary services, public health advocates charged Tuesday. A "significant" number of clinics contacted by the Ontario Health Coalition were charging patients extra fees on top of billing the Ontario Health Insurance Plan for necessary procedures, such as colonoscopies, the group said. One clinic was charging patients $50 "administrative fees" for such things as a snack and patient records, according to OHC, which worked with six university students to conduct the research.

Obama admin. says health plans that offer spousal benefit can exclude married same-sex couples

WASHINGTON - Acting to expand health insurance access for same-sex couples, the Obama administration said Friday that plans offering benefits for heterosexual couples must also provide coverage for married couples who are of the same gender. The policy, posted online by the Department of Health and Human Services, takes effect next year and applies to plans offered in the new health insurance exchanges, as well to many — but not all — individual and employer plans offered outside that marketplace.

Florida restaurant chain adds Obamacare surcharge to meal bills

By Barbara Liston ORLANDO (Reuters) - Diners at a Florida restaurant chain are being asked to pay a health insurance surcharge on their meal tabs to cover the cost for business owners of the Obama administration's new healthcare program. Customers at eight Gator's Dockside restaurants dotted around central and north Florida are finding a 1 percent surcharge on their bills listed as "ACA," the letters standing for the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

Health law outreach targets taxi drivers, other pockets of uninsured, as deadline approaches

CHICAGO - Groups working to sign up uninsured people for health coverage are making a special effort to contact taxi drivers, hoping to get many enrolled as a deadline for the nation's health law creeps closer. Cab companies don't offer health insurance, and only a small percentage of the nation's 233,000 drivers have policies. But drivers have particular health care needs because of the hazard of traffic accidents and the long hours they spend sitting.

S. Korean gov't to expand benefits under public health insurance

SEJONG, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean health ministry said Tuesday it will add more benefits to the public health insurance program that will expand medical services for the elderly while reducing medical expenses for all patients. The move, however, will likely lead to a rise in insurance premiums as it is expected to cost up to 4.6 trillion won (US$4.28 billion) over the next four years.

Gov't panel OKs medical fee hikes for initial, follow-up visits

An advisory panel to the health minister approved on Wednesday hikes from April 1 in medical consultation fees that doctors charge patients for initial and follow-up visits. The Central Social Insurance Medical Council endorsed a hike of 120 yen for the initial visit to 2,820 yen and 30 yen for a follow-up visit to 720 yen, officials of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said.

Court hears legal challenge to Ottawa's health-care cuts for refugees

TORONTO - Ottawa's cutbacks to health-care coverage for refugee claimants may leave some of them dependent on the charity of provincial officials, a judge said Thursday. Justice Anne Mactavish raised the issue on the last day of a legal challenge launched by Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers. The groups argue the changes announced 18 months ago are unlawful and inhumane, and want the court to strike them down.
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