HOW HEALTH CARE REFORM CAN SAVE YOU MONEY: THE HEALTH INSURANCE MARKETPLACE. The Health Insurance Marketplace (HIM) is a new way for small businesses and individuals to buy health insurance. The HIM allows small businesses and individuals group buying power by creating a statewide (or larger) pool. Individuals and small businesses will still purchase health insurance from private insurance companies but at slightly better rates because of the large pool. There will be separate HIMs for small businesses and individuals, although both will use the same website. In some states there will be even more savings because the HIM will use buying power to negotiate even lower rates.
The HIM is also the only way individuals can get a federal government subsidy to buy health insurance. The subsidies will be available to everyone under 400 percent of the poverty level, with greater subsidies at lower incomes. The Kaiser Foundation Subsidy Calculator http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/ will give some idea of the value of the subsidies. The subsidies will only be available on the individual market, so some small businesses may find it cheaper to use the individual rather than the small business HIM.
There will be more opportunities to learn about health care reform between now and the end of the year. A few upcoming events are:
Richmond, 7:00 pm on July 23 at the Jewish Community Center, 5403 Monument Avenue
Roanoke, 10:00 am on August 3 at St Paul’s United Methodist church, 502 Gilmer Avenue
Alexandria, 8:00 am on August 1 at Landmark Mall Community Room, 5801 Duke Street
The federal government has announced that they will delay enforcing the employer mandate to provide health insurance until 2015. To be clear, businesses with 50 or more FTE (full time equivalent) employees are still required to provide affordable health insurance starting in 2014. There will be no penalty until 2015.
The federal government has also announced that income information on the HIM will be assumed to be true. While there will be spot audits of income information (and fines for fraud), people will not be required to provide significant proof of income on the HIM.
As we move towards the start up of the new Health Insurance Marketplace, states are starting to announce preliminary costs figure for health insurance. California has announced its numbers and they were remarkably affordable. A bronze level plan will be available for $172 a month before subsidies. Silver level plans are not much more expensive. California is not only the largest health insurance market in the country but it also the state that has done the most to fully implement health care reform.
The Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) met for the first time on June 17. The MIRC is the body of ten state legislators who will decide if Medicaid reform is happening in Virginia and then vote to allow Medicaid to expand in Virginia. At the first meeting the MIRC heard some good presentations from the leader of the state Department of Health and Human Services about how well Medicaid reform is going. The commission also elected Senator Emmett Hanger of Mount Solon as its chair.
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