How will Louisiana citizens be impacted? Will employees have more or less options? What about the poor, not currently covered by Medicaid due to Governor Jindal’s and the Louisiana legislature’s decision not to extend the Medicaid coverage?
In general, those were the topics discussed during a media conference call Wednesday morning.
Leading the discussion were Tony Carrk, Health Care War Room Director for The Center for American Progress, Jan Muller, Director of Louisiana Budget Project and Carrie Wooten, Director of Research and Policy of Louisiana Progress.
According to the advance press release, the purpose of the conference call was to “To bring together Louisiana policy experts and national experts to provide the media with accurate information about the insurance exchange enrollment period, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Louisiana, and to dispel myths that are being spread by opponents of the legislation.”
According to the speakers, most of Louisiana will be looking at more choices and lower premiums for healthcare, including the elimination of pre-existing conditions which has plagued so many individuals and families. However, a large segment of the population that will not benefit will be the poor since Governor Jindal and the Legislature opted out of the medicaid expansion.
According to Moller, Louisiana has privatized many of the facilities that would normally provide for the poor and uninsured except the basic services will be the same--emergency rooms and long-lines.
Listen to the audio (audio is roughly 40 minutes)
The call coincided with a new report issued by the Health and Human Services entitled, “ Significant choice and lower than expected premiums available in the new Health Insurance Marketplace", which said:
A new report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finds that in state after state, consumers will see increased competition in the Health Insurance Marketplace, leading to new and affordable choices for consumers. According to the report, consumers will be able to choose from an average of 53 health plans in the Marketplace, and the vast majority of consumers will have a choice of at least two different health insurance companies - usually more. Premiums nationwide will also be around 16 percent lower than originally expected – with about 95 percent of eligible uninsured live in states with lower than expected premiums – before taking into account financial assistance.
“We are excited to see that rates in the Marketplace are even lower than originally projected,” said Secretary Sebelius. “In the past, consumers were too often denied or priced-out of quality health insurance options, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act consumers will be able to choose from a number of new coverage options at a price that is affordable.”
In less than a week, the new Marketplace will be open for business where millions of Americans can shop for and purchase health insurance coverage in one place. Consumers will be able to find out whether they qualify for premium assistance and compare plans side-by-side based on pricing, quality and benefits. No one can be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition. October 1 marks the beginning of a six-month long open enrollment period that runs through March 2014. Coverage begins as early as January 1, or in as little as 100 days from today.
Today’s report finds that individuals in the 36 states where HHS will fully or partly run the Marketplace will have an average of 53 qualified health plan choices. Plans in the Marketplace will be categorized as either “gold,” “silver,” or “bronze,” depending on the share of costs covered. Young adults will also have the option of purchasing a “catastrophic” plan, increasing their number of choices to 57 on average. About 95 percent of consumers will have a choice of two or more health insurance issuers, often many more. About 1 in 4 of these insurance companies is offering health plans in the individual market for the first time in 2014, a sign of healthy competition.
The report also gives an overview of pricing and the number of coverage options across the nation. It finds that the average premium nationally for the second lowest cost silver plan will be $328 before tax credits, or 16 percent below projections based off of Congressional Budget Office estimates. About 95 percent of uninsured people eligible for the Marketplace live in a state where their average premium is lower than projections. And states with the lowest premiums have more than twice the number of insurance companies offering plans than states with the highest premiums.
Premium and plan options are broken down by state where information is available. For example, the report shows that a 27-year old living in Dallas who makes $25,000 per year will pay $74 per month for the lowest cost bronze plan and $139 per month for the lowest cost silver plan, taking into account tax credits. And he or she will be able to choose from among 43 qualified health plans. For a family of four in Dallas with an income of $50,000 per year, the lowest bronze plan would cost only $26 per month, taking into account tax credits. The majority (around 6 out of 10) of the people uninsured today will be able to find coverage for $100 or less per month in the Marketplace, taking into account premium tax credits and Medicaid coverage.
Consumers can get help finding Marketplace coverage through a number of different resources. They can get more information through HealthCare.gov, or cuidadodesalud.gov. Consumers can participate in online web chats or call 1-800-318-2596 toll free (TTY: 1-855-889-4325) to speak with trained customer service representatives, with translation services available in 150 languages. Community health centers, Navigators and other assisters are available in local communities to provide in-person help with coverage choices. Local libraries will help consumers learn about their options and hundreds of Champions for Coverage, which are public and private organizations all across the country, are helping people learn about their options and enroll in affordable coverage.
To read the report on health insurance rates, visit:http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2013/MarketplacePremiums/ib_marketplace_premiums.cfm.
To view the data on rates released today, visit:http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2013/MarketplacePremiums/datasheet_home.cfm.
To become a Champion for Coverage, visit: http://marketplace.cms.gov/help-us/champion.html.