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gold, silver, bronze plans and % bought on ACA state and federal exchanges
Wonkblog charts ACA data
Jason Millman:
Twenty percent of all people who chose plans in the Obamacare marketplaces went with bronze, and 65 percent chose silver — both were up from 18 percent and 63 percent, respectively, at the end of February. The percentage of those picking gold (9 percent) and platinum plans (5 percent) through the end of the enrollment period were down slightly from February. Overall, 2 percent chose catastrophic plans.

The mid-level silver plans, in which insurers cover 70 percent of the costs, seem to hit the sweet spot for customers who got federal aid. Those plans also offer an additional benefit that other metal levels don't. People signing up in silver plans who earn less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level — $29,175 for an individual, or $59,625 for a family of four — are also eligible for assistance for out-of-pocket costs.

But let's go a little deeper in what people are choosing this year, with help from some charts courtesy of Wonkblog's Christopher Ingraham.

Michael Hiltzik:
Positive news reports about insurance enrollments under Affordable Care Act have been coming out so steadily that they barely make headlines anymore. Still searching for a way to depict Obamacare as a "train wreck," GOP critics of the law have no option but to make up the bad news.
Before we get to that, let's examine the latest statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services, released Thursday. The HHS report, which updates figures to April 19, toward the end of the extended enrollment period for 2014, reveals that a total of 8.02 million people enrolled in individual health plans through the federal and state ACA marketplaces since Oct. 1. On the face of it, this beats the expectations of 7 million enrollments for the first year of the ACA.
Some of the enrollment trends tracked very closely to what experts anticipated, based on the experience of the Massachusetts healthcare reform ("Romneycare"). One expected trend was that enrollment would surge as the March 31 deadline approached; sure enough, 47% of enrollments came in the final month.
More politics and policy below the fold.

Just for fun, and in honor of the White House correspondent's dinner, former Senate aide (aka "Hill flack" according to journalists) Jim Manley describes various kinds of DC reporters. I'm in category #9.


A last-minute deluge of health insurance sign-ups came from states where political leaders have opposed the Obama administration’s health-care law, according to federal figures released Thursday.

In March and April, the number of people enrolling in plans more than doubled in the 36 states that chose not to set up their own marketplaces, the figures show. Most of these states deferred to the federal marketplace,, in a show of resistance to the program.

Ever hear of MERS? You should know about it. It's low risk for you unless you are a health care worker (like SARS a decade ago).
Traveler to US is being treated for #MERS & is isolated from public under CDC recs to prevent exposure. There is very low risk to public.
More from CDC:
CDC announces first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus infection (MERS) in the United States
MERS case in traveler from Saudi Arabia hospitalized in Indiana

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was confirmed today in a traveler to the United States. This virus is relatively new to humans and was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

“We’ve anticipated MERS reaching the US, and we’ve prepared for and are taking swift action,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  “We’re doing everything possible with hospital, local, and state health officials to find people who may have had contact with this person so they can be evaluated as appropriate.  This case reminds us that we are all connected by the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink.  We can break the chain of transmission in this case through focused efforts here and abroad.”

On April 24, the patient traveled by plane from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to London, England then from London to Chicago, Illinois.  The patient then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana.  On the 27th, the patient began to experience respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath, coughing, and fever. The patient went to an emergency department in an Indiana hospital on April 28th and was admitted on that same day. The patient is being well cared for and is isolated; the patient is currently in stable condition. Because of the patient’s symptoms and travel history, Indiana public health officials tested for MERS-CoV. The Indiana state public health laboratory and CDC confirmed MERS-CoV infection in the patient this afternoon.

“It is understandable that some may be concerned about this situation, but this first U.S. case of MERS-CoV infection represents a very low risk to the general public,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases.  In some countries, the virus has spread from person to person through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. However, there is currently no evidence of sustained spread of MERS-CoV in community settings.

CNN on what Hong Kong learned from bird flu and SARS:
It is the protocols honed in Hong Kong and around the world following SARS that offer the best way of limiting the spread of coronaviruses.
Knowledge is seen as key, with public education -- from hygiene such as hand-washing to preventative measures such as mask-wearing -- key to arresting the spread of coronaviruses.
Saudi Arabia is learning transparency is of key importance, recently replacing Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, its secretive health minister, with Adel Fakieh, a proponent of public education and openness.
Professor Malik Peiris, Director of Hong Kong University's School of Public Health, says SARS not only took everyone by surprise, it marked the re-emergence of infectious diseases as a major concern.
He says in the wake of SARS, not only were resources -- like isolation wards in hospitals -- reallocated to combat infectious diseases like SARS, but as a result Hong Kong has now become a center for infectious disease epidemiology and virology.
"There was also H7N9 (bird flu) which happened on our doorstep and this expertise was heavily utilized," he says.
Cool. @sciencemagazine just put two of my recent #Mers articles outside the paywall. and
Jonathan Chait:
So [NBA Commissioner Adam] Silver initially hedged, then his view evolved as he slowly built a consensus and led from behind. Why can’t Obama make decisions more like that?
Ezra Klein:
Republicans and Democrats are more divided on race today than in 1985
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