Eight in 10 Uninsured Latinos may Qualify for Medicaid

Eight in 10 Uninsured Latinos may Qualify for MedicaidA new report issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finds that that nearly 8 in 10 uninsured Latinos may qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or lower costs on monthly premiums through the Health Insurance Marketplace. If all states took advantage of new opportunities to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, 95 percent of uninsured Latinos might qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or tax credits to help with the cost of premiums in the Marketplace.

“The health care law addresses longstanding inequalities that have affected minority communities across the nation, including lack of access to affordable health insurance coverage,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 10.2 million uninsured Latinos have the opportunity to purchase quality, affordable coverage through the Marketplace, and as many as 8 million of those could get a break on costs.”

According to the report, 1 in 4 uninsured individuals who are eligible for the Marketplace nationwide are Latino (10.2 million out of 41.3 million individuals). The majority (62 percent) live in California, Texas, and Florida; about half (4.6 million or 46 percent) are between the ages of 18 and 35.

Among those Latinos who are eligible for Marketplace coverage nationwide, about 3.9 million may be eligible for lower costs on monthly premiums, and 4.2 million may be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. The report details uninsurance rates by state and provides several examples of what premiums might look like for Latinos living in major metropolitan areas. For example, a 27 year old with an income of $25,000 living in Miami, Florida could pay as little as $87 for a bronze plan. In Houston, Texas he or she could pay as little as $99 after factoring in premium tax credits.

The majority (63 percent) of uninsured Hispanic Americans who are eligible for coverage in the Marketplace either speak English as a first language, or “very well” as a second language. About one-third (37 percent) rely on Spanish, and 27 percent live in a household without an English-speaking adult present. This is why from the beginning HHS’s outreach has been a bilingual effort. Since October 1, the diverse Latino community has had access to multiple resources to help with enrollment in the Marketplace, including applying by phone with trained call center staff offering bilingual help, or in person with trained specialists in local communities.

Latinos can enroll in Spanish through CuidadodeSalud.gov where consumers can create accounts, complete an online application, and shop for health plans that fit their budget and needs.

CuidadoDeSalud.gov now supports a more robust window shopping experience. Consumers can see detailed information about each Marketplace health insurance plan offered in their area before they apply. They can compare plans, covered benefits, physician and hospital networks, and plan prices based on household information they supply, all without a login or application. Consumers will still need to complete the application to find out how they can get lower costs.

Enrollment in the Marketplace is open until March 31.

Available tools for enrollments include:
-Online through HealthCare.gov or in Spanish at CuidadoDeSalud.gov;
-Over the phone by calling the 24/7 customer service center (1-800-318-2596, TTY 1-855-889-4325);
-Working with a trained person in your local community (A Find Local Help section is available on both HealthCare.gov and CuidadoDeSalud.gov);
-Submitting a paper application by mail.

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Health Insurance Marketplace News

Health Insurance Marketplace NewsHere is a recent release from the government regarding health insurance news including Medicaid, CHIP and tax credits.

Six out of ten uninsured African Americans may be eligible for Medicaid, CHIP or tax credits in the Health Insurance Marketplace

95 percent of uninsured African Americans might qualify for lower costs on coverage if all states expanded Medicaid

According to a new report released by the Department of Health and Human Services, six out of ten (4.2 million) uninsured African Americans who may be eligible for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace might qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or tax credits to help with the cost of premiums. If ALL states took advantage of new opportunities to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, 95 percent of uninsured African Americans who may be eligible for the Marketplace might qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or tax credits to help with the cost of premiums.

“The health care law is working to address long standing disparities in health care coverage and improve the health of the African American community,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. “Through the Health Insurance Marketplace, 6.8 million uninsured African Americans have new options for affordable health coverage that covers a range of benefits, including important preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs.”

The report also details uninsurance rates by state and provides several examples of what premiums might look like for African Americans living in major metropolitan areas. One fifth of uninsured African American citizens and permanent residents live the greater Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Detroit metropolitan areas. A 27-year-old in Atlanta with an income of $25,000 can pay as little as $105 a month for a bronze plan after applying the tax credit, while a family of four with an income of $50,000 could pay $148 a month for a bronze plan after applying the tax credit.

Nationwide, about 2 million uninsured African Americans may be eligible for coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

States have new opportunities to expand Medicaid coverage to include Americans with family incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level (generally $31,322 for a family of four in 2013). This expansion includes adults without dependent children living at home, who have not previously been eligible in most states.

An additional 2.2 million eligible uninsured African American adults with family incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level live in states that are not expanding Medicaid. The number of uninsured African Americans who may be eligible for access to health coverage at a lower cost would increase from 60 to 95 percent if all states adopted the Medicaid expansion.

To read the report, visit: http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2013/UninsuredAfricanAmericans/ib_UninsuredAfricanAmericans.cfm

To learn more about the Health Insurance Marketplace, including to shop and enroll in coverage online, visit HealthCare.gov. You can also enroll by phone by calling our call center 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1 855-889-4325) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week where help is available in 150 languages, or you can find in-person help from certified assisters in your area by visiting localhelp.healthcare.gov/.

You can sign up for a health insurance plan through the Marketplace between now and the end of March 2014.

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Affodable Care Act Funds Health Centers

Affodable Care Act Funds Health Centers

Click to enlarge image

The U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced $150 million in awards under the Affordable Care Act to support 236 new health center sites across the country. These investments will help care for approximately 1.25 million additional patients.

Community health centers work to improve access to comprehensive, culturally competent, quality primary health care services. Community health centers play an especially important role in delivering health care services in communities with historically high uninsurance rates. Community health centers are also on the front line of helping uninsured residents enroll in new health insurance options available in the Health Insurance Marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act, through expanded access to Medicaid in many states, and new private health insurance options and tax credits.

“We are committed to providing more people across the country with the quality patient-centered care they deserve,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Health centers are key partners in the improving access to quality, affordable health care services for those who need it most. With new, affordable health insurance options available under the Affordable Care Act, community health centers are also key partners in helping uninsured residents sign up for health coverage – many of whom have been locked out of the health insurance market for years.”

As community-based and patient-directed organizations, health centers are well positioned to be responsive to the specific health care needs of their community. Through the Affordable Care Act’s commitment to expanding access to high quality health care for all Americans, these grants will support the establishment of new full-time service delivery sites.

Health centers also link individuals to care through outreach and enrollment, assuring that individuals in their communities have the information and assistance they need to enroll in care through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Today, approximately 1,200 health centers operate more than 9,000 service delivery sites that provide care to over 21 million patients in every State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin. Since the beginning of 2009, health centers have added 4 million patients and more than 35,000 new full-time positions.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide additional Affordable Care Act resources to health centers to establish new sites,” said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N. “With these new funds, health centers will provide more individuals and families across the country with access to high quality affordable health care.”

Health Center New Access Point grants, listed by organization and state, are available HERE.

To learn more about the Affordable Care Act, visit www.HealthCare.gov.

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Health Insurance Marketplace, Have You Logged on?

Health Insurance Marketplace, Have You Logged on?I got the following email from Kathleen Sebelius. It is an update on the Health Insurance Marketplace.

“It has been three weeks since the start of the new Health Insurance Marketplace,
where Americans, regardless of income or health status, can find quality, affordable
health coverage. The launch of the Marketplace website, HealthCare.gov, has been
rocky but we are working tirelessly to make the online process better.

And we are taking other steps to meet the consumer demand for affordable health
insurance. There are four basic ways to apply for health coverage through the
Marketplace, and I want to tell you about them.

-Apply online – Visit HealthCare.gov to get started.
-Apply by phone. Call 1-800-318-2596 to apply for a health insurance plan and enroll over the phone. (TTY: 1-855-889-4325)
-Apply in person. Visit a trained counselor in your community to get information and apply in person. Find help in your area at LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.
-Apply by mail. Complete a paper application and mail it in. You can download the paper application form HERE.

Before you choose a plan, you may want to explore your options. You can use this calculator to see if you qualify for lower costs on coverage and preview Marketplace plans here.”

Note from editor “Good luck!”

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Affordable Care Act has Lower than Expected Premiums

Affordable Care Act has Lower than Expected PremiumsSignificant choice and lower than expected premiums available in the new Health Insurance Marketplace

Washington DC – A new report released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finds that in state after state, consumers will see increased competition in the Health Insurance Marketplace, leading to new and affordable choices for consumers. According to the report, consumers will be able to choose from an average of 53 health plans in the Marketplace, and the vast majority of consumers will have a choice of at least two different health insurance companies – usually more. Premiums nationwide will also be around 16 percent lower than originally expected – with about 95 percent of eligible uninsured live in states with lower than expected premiums – before taking into account financial assistance.

“We are excited to see that rates in the Marketplace are even lower than originally projected,” said Secretary Sebelius. “In the past, consumers were too often denied or priced-out of quality health insurance options, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act consumers will be able to choose from a number of new coverage options at a price that is affordable.”

In less than a week, the new Marketplace will be open for business where millions of Americans can shop for and purchase health insurance coverage in one place. Consumers will be able to find out whether they qualify for premium assistance and compare plans side-by-side based on pricing, quality and benefits. No one can be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition. October 1 marks the beginning of a six-month long open enrollment period that runs through March 2014. Coverage begins as early as January 1, or in about 100 days.

This report finds that individuals in the 36 states where HHS will fully or partly run the Marketplace will have an average of 53 qualified health plan choices. Plans in the Marketplace will be categorized as either “gold,” “silver,” or “bronze,” depending on the share of costs covered. Young adults will also have the option of purchasing a “catastrophic” plan, increasing their number of choices to 57 on average. About 95 percent of consumers will have a choice of two or more health insurance issuers, often many more. About 1 in 4 of these insurance companies is offering health plans in the individual market for the first time in 2014, a sign of healthy competition.

The report also gives an overview of pricing and the number of coverage options across the nation. It finds that the average premium nationally for the second lowest cost silver plan will be $328 before tax credits, or 16 percent below projections based off of Congressional Budget Office estimates. About 95 percent of uninsured people eligible for the Marketplace live in a state where their average premium is lower than projections. And states with the lowest premiums have more than twice the number of insurance companies offering plans than states with the highest premiums.

Premium and plan options are broken down by state where information is available. For example, the report shows that a 27-year old living in Dallas who makes $25,000 per year will pay $74 per month for the lowest cost bronze plan and $139 per month for the lowest cost silver plan, taking into account tax credits. And he or she will be able to choose from among 43 qualified health plans. For a family of four in Dallas with an income of $50,000 per year, the lowest bronze plan would cost only $26 per month, taking into account tax credits. The majority (around 6 out of 10) of the people uninsured today will be able to find coverage for $100 or less per month in the Marketplace, taking into account premium tax credits and Medicaid coverage.

Consumers can get help finding Marketplace coverage through a number of different resources. They can get more information through HealthCare.gov, or cuidadodesalud.gov. Consumers can participate in online web chats or call 1-800-318-2596 toll free (TTY: 1-855-889-4325) to speak with trained customer service representatives, with translation services available in 150 languages.

Community health centers, Navigators and other assisters are available in local communities to provide in-person help with coverage choices. Local libraries will help consumers learn about their options and hundreds of Champions for Coverage, which are public and private organizations all across the country, are helping people learn about their options and enroll in affordable coverage.

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New Funding Offers Enrollment Assistance for Obamacare

Enrollment Assistance for ObamacarePress Release – Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced new funding to help more uninsured Americans enroll in new health insurance coverage options made available by the Affordable Care Act. Approximately $150 million will help community health centers provide in-person enrollment assistance to uninsured individuals across the nation. About 1,200 health centers operate nearly 9,000 service delivery sites nationwide and serve approximately 21 million patients each year.

“Health centers have extensive experience providing eligibility assistance to patients, are providing care in communities across the Nation, and are well-positioned to support enrollment efforts,” Secretary Sebelius said. “Investing in health centers for outreach and enrollment assistance provides one more way the Obama administration is helping consumers understand their options and enroll in affordable coverage.”

With these new funds, health centers will be able to hire new staff, train existing staff, and conduct community outreach events and other educational activities. Health centers will help consumers understand their coverage options, determine their eligibility and enroll in new affordable health insurance options. Community health center staff will provide unbiased information to consumers about health insurance, the new Health Insurance Marketplace, qualified health plans, and Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

This funding opportunity was issued by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and it complements and aligns with other federal efforts, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service funded navigator program.

This funding announcement is part of the administration’s larger effort to make applying for health insurance as easy as possible. For example, last week, they released a single, streamlined application that was shortened from 21 to 3 pages. They are committed to providing the type of assistance that Americans need to ensure that they have access to affordable health care.

“Health centers work in communities across the country, giving them a unique opportunity to reach the uninsured in their communities and help connect them with the benefits of health insurance coverage under the health care law,” said HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield, Ph.D, R.N.

While over $8 million of the funding came to Florida, the closest health centers to our community eligible for these funds include Jacksonville’s Duval County Health Department and the Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless.

To learn more about the Affordable Care Act, visit www.HealthCare.gov.

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Moving Forward with Obamacare’s Proposed Rules

Moving Forward with Obamacare's Proposed RulesIn November, the Department of Health and Human Services Press Office released the following regarding how the Obama administration plans to move forward with some proposed rules in the health care law.

Here is that release:

Washington DC – Obama administration moves forward to implement health care law, ban discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions

The Obama administration moved forward today to implement provisions in the health care law that would make it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. The provisions of the Affordable Care Act also would make it easier for consumers to compare health plans and employers to promote and encourage employee wellness.

“The Affordable Care Act is building a health insurance market that works for consumers,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Thanks to the health care law, no one will be discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition.”

“The Affordable Care Act recognizes that well-run, equitable workplace wellness programs allow workers to access services that can help them and their families lead healthier lives,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Employers, too, can benefit from reduced costs associated with a healthier workforce.”

The Obama administration issued:

    A proposed rule that, beginning in 2014, prohibits health insurance companies from discriminating against individuals because of a pre-existing or chronic condition. Under the rule, insurance companies would be allowed to vary premiums within limits, only based on age, tobacco use, family size, and geography. Health insurance companies would be prohibited from denying coverage to any American because of a pre-existing condition or from charging higher premiums to certain enrollees because of their current or past health problems, gender, occupation, and small employer size or industry. The rule would ensure that people for whom coverage would otherwise be unaffordable, and young adults, have access to a catastrophic coverage plan in the individual market. For more information regarding this rule, visit: www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2012/11/market-reforms11202012a.html.

    A proposed rule outlining policies and standards for coverage of essential health benefits, while giving states more flexibility to implement the Affordable Care Act. Essential health benefits are a core set of benefits that would give consumers a consistent way to compare health plans in the individual and small group markets. A companion letter on the flexibility in implementing the essential health benefits in Medicaid was also sent to states. For more information regarding this rule, visit www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2012/11/ehb11202012a.html.

    A proposed rule implementing and expanding employment-based wellness programs to promote health and help control health care spending, while ensuring that individuals are protected from unfair underwriting practices that could otherwise reduce benefits based on health status. For more information regarding this rule, visit: www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2012/11/wellness11202012a.html.

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