OPEN ENROLLMENT ON THE HEALTH INSURANCE MARKETPLACE CLOSES NEXT TUESDAY MARCH 31. This is the new way to buy health insurance for yourself or your family. Private plans are available and government tax credits and subsidies are available to everyone earning between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Go to www.healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596. The early problems with the website have been worked out and it appears to work smoothly now.
A new provision announced yesterday allows people who have started the application process by March 31 to request an extension.
The new Health Insurance Marketplace ranks all health insurance plans into four categories: platinum, gold, silver and bronze. The four categories represent the fiscal coverage of the plans. All platinum plans will cover roughly 90 percent of health care costs; gold plans will cover roughly 80 percent of health care costs; silver 70 percent; and bronze 60 percent. The categories allow folks to compare different health insurance policies much more easily.
Despite the shaky launch of the health care sign-up website, over 5 million people have signed up for health insurance on healthcare.gov. The pace of sign ups is increasing and most experts predict that a little over 6 million will have signed up by the time open enrollment ends at midnight on March 31. In addition, about 2 million young people between 21 and 26 years old have remained or returned to their parent’s health insurance plan and about 4 million people have been added to Medicaid coverage through expansion.
Virginia itself is continuing to struggle with Medicaid expansion. The state Senate and Governor Terry McAuliffe strongly support expansion while the state House of Delegate’s is strongly opposed. For at least the next two weeks a special session of the Virginia General Assembly will be meeting to decide whether Virginia will expand Medicaid in some form or fashion. The benefits of Medicaid expansion are well known– $2 billion a year in federal tax money coming back to Virginia; 30,000 new jobs; 400,000 people eligible for health insurance and a lower cost to the state of Virginia than not expanding.
PLEASE CONTACT YOUR MEMBER OF THE VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES NOW and urge him or her to support Marketplace Virginia. EVERY ADDITIONAL CALL OR LETTER MAKES A DIFFERENCE. See http://
New federal rules were recently announced delaying the employer mandate a little bit more. Employers with between 50 and 100 employees will not have to provide health insurance to their full-time employees until 2016, rather than 2015. Employers with 100 or more employees will still need to provide health insurance in 2015 or face what could be significant fines.
After years of double-digit increases, health care spending has been remarkably reasonable for the last few years. A recent Kaiser Family Fund report found that health care spending grew by less than 4 percent in 2009, 2010 and 2011, the lowest rate of growth since 1960. While the weak economy has helped slow spending, we have had several bad recessions since 1960 that have not lowered spending as much.
The federal government recently released a report on what hospitals charge for various services. The report reveals a system that (according to the Washington Post) is “a health-care system with tremendous, seemingly random variation in the costs of services.” See http://www.washingtonpost.com/
These updates are a service of Virginia Organizing. Contact Bob Becker at 804-937-0752 or reply to this email with questions or comments. Feel free to forward these updates!