Goodness have things changed since our last post on health insurance exchanges! KHN, in collaboration with The Washington Post, wrote an article about the disparity of outreach dollars being spent by various states in anticipation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) implementation.
“The wide variation in spending to hire and train people to provide consumer assistance in the first year of the new marketplaces could have a major impact on how many people actually get coverage…states with some of the nation’s highest uninsured rates…are getting far less federal money per uninsured resident than states with low rates…according to a Kaiser Health News analysis.” This might seem counterintuitive, but check this out:
“The biggest reason for the uneven spending on consumer assistance is that when Congress passed the health law in 2010, it assumed most states would run the online marketplaces, and it authorized broad funding for that. As it turned out, only 16 states and the District of Columbia agreed to do so.” Whew, lucky for those of us in California, we’re one of the 16 states!
So, what are these “marketplaces”? Perhaps you’ve heard them called “exchanges” (as they are here in California):
“The marketplaces, also known as exchanges, are the key way the law expands health coverage to about 27 million people by 2016. That’s where people will shop for and enroll in private coverage and determine if they are eligible for premium discounts, or for Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor. While many customers will be uninsured, others with coverage will use them to take advantage of government subsidies.”
“The online marketplaces, which open for enrollment Oct. 1, were envisioned to be as easy to use as travel websites like Expedia, but experts say that many people will need help figuring out which plan is best for them and what information they might need to sign up for coverage. ‘Some have never applied for health insurance coverage before and may need assistance even to navigate the website,’ said Sonya Schwartz, program director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, and project director of State Refor(u)m, a discussion forum about implementation.”
“To be sure, consumer assistance is only one way that potential enrollees may learn of new insurance options and how to sign up for them. Additional federal dollars will go to advertising on radio, television and billboards. And insurers, hospitals and nonprofit groups may supplement public education efforts in many states.”
So, what are your plans for health coverage as PPACA is implemented? Please share in the comments section below or on our facebook page. Of course, if you’d like some individual assistance, please complete the form below and one of our experts will be in touch with you quickly.
Thanks for joining us on this ride!