One hurdle in acceptance of Obamacare has been overcoming confusion and ignorance about what it means for “me and my family.” Information coming from Washington speaks in generalities and generic provisions, but some aspects of health care coverage vary from state to state, county to county, and individual to individual. The result has been that the public has become the target of anti-health-care-reform advocates who take advantage of ignorance to feed fear.
As of Oct. 1, we all now have an opportunity to find out what health care reform means for each of us in Grand County, even with the government shutdown and delays in funding. The offices and websites will still be running regardless. It will not take another year to understand it. It will be clear to you immediately if you contact the offices and websites already operating and open for business.
Coverage for those who enroll by Dec. 15, 2013, will begin Jan. 1, 2014, or affordable subsidized coverage would be kicked to Jan. 1, 2015, if the GOP gets its way. Delay of funding would not kill it. It would just make it more expensive with administrative costs since there would be no subsidies to lower the monthly charges.
If you receive insurance from a large employer or government entity, or if you are on Medicaid or Medicare already, there will be little if any change and you will not be able to go to the marketplace exchanges to get subsidized insurance, nor do you need to reapply. Obamacare has already closed much of the Medicare drug donut-hole and added 10 years to Medicare’s life.
Like all health insurance per Obamacare, large business-provided insurance is already bound by the consumer protections (no more caps, must cover pre-existing conditions, no more co-pay cancer screenings, no more higher premiums for women than for men or overcharging for administration fees.) Overcharges were already refunded to the insured this year.
In Grand County, individuals earning less than $15,856, or $30,000 for a family of four, will be covered by expanded Medicaid. Individuals earning between $15, 856 a year and $45,960, and families of four earning between $32,499 and $94,200, may qualify for reduced cost premiums per income level. For those who earn more, the premiums for coverage bought through the exchanges have the cost advantages of a large group plan. All will have a choice of plans through Access Health Colorado, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield HMO, Colorado HealthOP, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, and UnitedHealthcare. There are a wide variety of coverage levels within their plans.
For those currently uninsured in Grand County, much information can be found at connectforhealthco.com, including the ability to sign up for insurance. The site gives the range of rates and plan comparisons. Their telephone number is 1-855-752-6749. You can also visit Northwest Colorado Community Health, 416 Byers, in Hot Sulphur Springs. For Medicaid information, go to Colorado.gov/PEAK or call 1-800-221-3943 .
Small business owners with less than 50 employees are not required to provide health insurance. There is helpful information about small business group rates at the connectforhealthco.com site, and you may qualify for a tax credit if you offer insurance to your employees. Open enrollment in all business and personal plans ends March 31, 2014.
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