Despite overwhelming demand creating difficulties in the HealthCare.gov health insurance exchange website, there are in fact three other ways to submit applications: by phone, mailing in a paper application and with the assistance of an insurance counselor called a navigator. News reports from Kansas City show the other methods are working just fine for Americans seeking health insurance coverage.
Rep. Norr (D-Springfield) penned a great piece for the Springfield News-Leader today.
Whether you were in favor of the new health care law or not, to me, there is one thing that stands out. Thousands of Missourians, more than 200,000, many in Springfield and in my district, are being left out because the Missouri legislature played politics with people’s lives and did not expand Medicaid.
As expected, the launch of open enrollment for the new health insurance marketplaces has gotten off to a rollicking start. So many people were shopping for private insurance this morning that the servers temporarily ground to a near-halt. Never fear, consumers, for healthcare.gov is alive and kicking – and because you have until December 15 to enroll in a plan that will start on January 1, 2014. How good is it going so far?
A senior Obama administration official reported that just three hours after Obamacare’s open enrollment period launched, the national Healthcare.gov site had one million visitors. That’s five times more users on the site than the number of users who have ever visited Medicare.gov at the same time.
Think Progress has more.
Consumers to find insurance more affordable than ever before
Jefferson City, Mo. – The private health insurance marketplaces established in each state under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) are now officially open for business. By visiting healthcare.gov consumers will be able to compare health plans in easy-to-understand language, get real prices and make informed decisions about which plan is right for them. Open enrollment begins today and runs through December 15. Plans will begin coverage on January 1, 2014.
“Starting today Americans will be able to easily comparison-shop private health insurance plans for the first time,” said Andrea Routh, Executive Director of the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance. “Just like we price and book vacation travel through Expedia.com and other similar websites, healthcare.gov will be the place to go to make apples-to-apples comparisons of plans from a variety of insurance companies – all of whom will be competing for our business.”
Routh said most consumers will find a variety of affordable plans. “A family of four in Missouri with a household income of $50,000 will pay just $282 per month for a ‘silver’ plan after discounts,” she said. “6 in 10 consumers will pay less than $100 per month after the discounts. The bottom line is that insurance will be more affordable for more Missourians than ever before. At the same time, consumers have plenty of time to do their research. Open enrollment for plans beginning coverage on January 1 runs through December 15.”
Consumers “will indeed be shocked – by how affordable health insurance is about to become”
Jefferson City, Mo. – The following is comment from Andrea Routh, Executive Director of the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance, on the announcement that insurance premiums in the health insurance marketplaces of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) will be even lower than expected:
“We always knew the insurance companies and their allies were fudging the truth when they warned about insurance premium ‘rate shock.’ What we didn’t know is just how wrong they were. Now we do. The only thing shocking about the premiums consumers will see when they look into purchasing health insurance through the marketplaces is just how affordable plans will be.”
“According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today, the national average premium for marketplace plans will be 16% less than projected by the Congressional Budget Office. That’s before income-based discounts kick in. For instance, a 55 year-old making $25,000 per year will pay just $145 a month for a low deductible plan. A family of four in Missouri with a household income of $50,000 will pay just $282 per month for a “silver” plan after discounts. 6 in 10 consumers will qualify for these insurance discounts. Furthermore, consumers will have an average of 53 insurance plans to choose between in the 36 states with federally-run insurance marketplaces.”
“The bottom line here is that when Americans log on to healthcare.gov to price insurance plans starting on October 1, they will indeed be shocked – by how affordable health insurance is about to become.”
Far too many Missourians lack health insurance and the fact is, many of them live in rural areas. For instance, McDonald county in southwest Missouri has the highest percentage of uninsured people in the state – 25%. Not only will expanding Medicaid eligibility help many of those families access health care, but Medicaid expansion also means keeping rural emergency rooms and health clinics open for the rest of us. That’s because reimbursements for treating uninsured people are coming to an end with Medicaid expansion expected to cover those previously uninsured people. Without expansion they don’t gain coverage and rural health centers will be left treating people and not getting reimbursed for it.
If Missouri fails to expand its Medicaid program we will be turning our backs on rural families and rural communities to the tune of some $6 billion. Already hospitals around the state are cutting staff and even life-saving services like ambulances because of our failure to expand the program.
Rural Missouri is too valuable to let vital health services close their doors. If that happens, how far will you have to go when your child has a dangerously high fever in the middle of the night? Or when a stroke sufferer is losing tens of thousands of brain cells each minute? Health care needs to remain local, but some in the legislature haven’t gotten the message. Take a few minutes to contact your legislator make sure they do:
Check out the Alliance’s new Facebook ad, “Who are you going to call?”
If something goes wrong in the tree stand this fall, who are you going to call if the local ER isn’t there anymore?
FACT: 1 in 3 deer hunters will fall from a tree stand at some point in their life.
FACT: Rural emergency rooms across Missouri are in danger of closing if we don’t reform and expand Medicaid.
Medicaid transformation means choices for rural Missouri.
We need to transform and expand Medicaid in Missouri. In this tough economy, more Missourians than ever are out of jobs and many are single parents making barely enough to survive, let alone support a family. Under the national health reform law, Missouri has an opportunity to expand Medicaid to provide health insurance to single parents and childless adults who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level, or about $25,000 for a family of three. Taking advantage of this expansion is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do for Missouri.
More than 800,000 Missourians are living without health insurance right now and – contrary to conventional wisdom – most of them live in rural parts of the state. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published yesterday a breakdown of the uninsured population by county that’s worth checking out (and passing along to your state legislators). The crux:
Overall, 16 percent of Missourians under the age of 65 – roughly 800,000 people – were uninsured in 2011. McDonald County, in the southwestern corner of the state, had the highest proportion of uninsured people in Missouri: Twenty-five percent of its residents under the age of 65 were without insurance in 2011.