This week on CoMo Explained we look at how Missouri is implementing Obamacare and ask whether it'll be successful or not.
Earlier this week was one of the most important events in the roll out of the ACA: the online health insurance marketplace. If the marketplace goes right, then the uninsured get their insurance, the working poor get a big discount, and overall healthcare prices will begin to drop. If it goes wrong, then the ACA is in trouble.
So, win or lose, who gets the credit? The law is federal, but this week on CoMo Explained we consider what part the state has to play in the success for failure of the ACA.
Here's what we know about the marketplace so far:
- Missouri residents can choose from 17 different insurance plans, though details on the plans are still scarce.
- The Kansas City Star reports the two insurance providers in the marketplace will be Coventry and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.
- You’ll be able to pick from three levels of insurance plans, from most expensive to cheapest: gold, silver and bronze. If you choose the cheaper plan, your monthly premium will be cheaper, but you’ll pay more each time you visit your physician or health-care provider. You can also pick a catastrophic plan.
- Your monthly premium will differ depending on the size of your family, your age, your income and where you live.
- If your income is between 100-400 percent of the federal poverty level, you’ll be eligible for government financial aid to pay for your premium each month. Check out NPR’s calculator here.
And all you have to do is enroll on healthcare.gov!
If the government fixes the website glitches, that is.
When I tried to sign up on Oct. 1 and Oct. 2, the first two days of enrollment, healthcare.gov was overloaded with traffic. The website kept telling me “We have a lot of visitors on the site right now” and pleading me to “stay on this page” so I don’t lose my place in line. Cool, I waited.
Then I waited some more. After about 10 minutes, I eventually got to make a supersecret password and create my username (gotta snag that exclusive Harum-Helmy name before everyone does!), then another glitch stopped me from selecting a Security Question that can protect my password. Shenanigans, I thought, but I kept trying.
By Wednesday afternoon, I still couldn't log on.
Without access to Missouri's marketplace, we don't know what plans are actually available for purchase. But the Department for Health and Human Services has this databook where you can look at estimated premium costs.
And that’s not the only glitch about the marketplace. There’s a bigger problem for the uninsured, and for me, it’s personal. The government can only help with paying monthly premiums if a person or family makes more than 100 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s because as the Affordable Care Act is written, those who make less than the poverty level were envisioned to be covered by the expanding Medicaid. Unluckily for the uninsured population, many states, including Missouri, opted not to increase their Medicaid eligibility. As it stands right now, Missouri’s Medicaid does not cover able-bodied adults with no children, no matter how poor. Meaning, I can go to the marketplace, look at insurance plans that might work for me, but I’ll have to pay full price, even though I make very little money.
In the podcast, Scott Pham, Ryan Famuliner and I talk about these glitches, Missouri's outreach plan, and if any of this will even work.
Stream the show above or check us out on the iTunes Store. If you've got ideas or comments, let us know because we love that kind of thing. Follow us on Twitter! @harumendhah, @scottpham and @ryanfamuliner.