Category Archives: News

The Week in Healthcare

News last week focused on confusion about the Affordable Care Act, an extension for those who couldn’t complete enrollment in time, and details on the individual mandate. Highlights include: CNN reported on a Kaiser Family Foundation poll that found six in 10 uninsured adults are not aware that open enrollment ends March 31. Of the uninsured surveyed, half said they don’t plan to purchase insurance this year. They mainly said cost was the reason. And more than 40 percent of those polled said they didn’t know about federal subsidies to lower costs. Health and Human Services officials said in a USA Today article that the March 31 deadline will be extended for those who tried to enroll, but didn’t finish the process. “Open enrollment ends March 31,” said Julie Bataille, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokeswoman. “We are experiencing a surge in demand and are making sure that we will be ready to help consumers who may be in line by the deadline to complete enrollment—either online or over the phone.” A Huffington Post article tells people what they need to know about the individual mandate, or penalty for not purchasing insurance. Unless they qualify for an exemption, most Americans will be required to have insurance. Exemptions include things like not making enough money to file a federal income tax return, being homeless or not being able to find a health plan that costs less than 8 percent of income. The penalty is the greater of $95 for each adult or 1 percent of household income. The penalty increases to $695 or 2.5 percent of income by 2016.

How to use your new Marketplace coverage

Now that you’ve joined millions of Americans in getting coverage, you need to learn how to use it. Here are some steps you can take right now to ensure that you have access to health care once your coverage begins.

Open Enrollment is over

We know many of you worked hard to finish enrolling in a health plan in the Health Insurance Marketplace. Sometimes despite your best efforts, you might have run into delays caused by heavy traffic to or our call center, maintenance periods, or other special situations that prevented you from finishing the process on time. If that happened to you, don’t worry – you still may be able to get covered in 2014.

Tune in March 30 for Health Insurance Help Desk Radio Program Featuring Blue Cross’ Mike Bertaut

Tune in to the Health Insurance Help Desk Radio Program on the Louisiana Radio Network on Sunday, March 30, at 8 p.m. for the latest news on the Affordable Care Act. The one-hour call-in show will feature Mike Bertaut, a certified health consultant and senior healthcare economist with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. Bertaut will take your calls and answer all your questions on the ACA. Listen to the show on the following participating radio stations: Alexandria – KSYL – 970 AM Baton Rouge – WBRP -107.3 FM Lafayette – KPEL – 96.5 FM Lake Charles – KLCL – 1470 AM Monroe – KMLB – 540 AM Shreveport – KVKI – 96.5 FM Slidell – WSLA – 1560 AM Thibodaux – KTIB – 640 AM

The Week in Healthcare

News last week focused on a drop in the uninsured rate, confusion about the penalty for not buying insurance and statistics of those signing up in Louisiana. Highlights include: The Washington Post reports that the share of Americans without health insurance is at the lowest level since President Obama took office. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that 15.9 percent of U.S. adults are uninsured so far in 2014, down from 17.1 percent for the last three months of 2013. This is equal to about 3 million people getting coverage. With less than a month left for most Americans to buy insurance or face a penalty, most consider the penalty to be pretty small according to NPR. “I’d say the vast majority of people I’ve dealt with really believe that the penalty is only $95, if they know about it at all,” says Brian Haile, senior vice president for health policy at Jackson Hewitt Tax Service. “And when people find out, they’re stunned. It’s much, much higher than they would expect.” In fact, the penalty is the greater or $95 or 1 percent of taxable income. An article on says that 87 percent of Louisianians who have purchased insurance under the Affordable Care Act are getting financial help to pay for it. Nationally, 83 percent of people got a subsidy. Of those who have gotten coverage, 29 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34. That’s the second highest percentage of young people in any state and higher than the national average of 25 percent.

Deadline to Buy Health Insurance is March 31

Those who don’t purchase by deadline face penalties The deadline to purchase insurance under the Affordable Care Act is Monday, March 31. After that date, most Americans will have to wait until the next open enrollment period that begins Nov. 15, 2014, and ends on Feb. 15, 2015, to purchase insurance through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. They will also face penalties of 1 percent of their annual income or $95, whichever is higher. “Since last March, we have traveled the state spreading the word about the Affordable Care Act,” said Doug Wilkinson, state coordinator with the Louisiana Healthcare Education Coalition. “As we near the end of the first open enrollment period, we urge those who haven’t bought insurance to get covered today and avoid penalties.” Consumers can buy insurance on the Marketplace at or in person with an insurance agent. To purchase, you will need: A personal email account. You can get one for free from Yahoo!, Gmail, Outlook and others. A Marketplace account that you can create at Social Security numbers and birth dates for each member of your household who needs coverage on this plan. Employer and income information for every member of your household who needs coverage on this plan (pay stubs, W-2 forms, etc.) Policy numbers for any current health insurance plans, if you have coverage. The only way customers can buy insurance on the Marketplace outside of open enrollment is because of a qualifying event such as: Getting married Having, adopting, or placement of a child Permanently moving to a new area that offers different health plan options Losing other health coverage (for example, because of job loss, divorce, loss of eligibility for Medicaid or CHIP, expiration […]

The Week in Healthcare

March 12, 2014 News last week focused on changes to the Affordable Care Act, whether or not the March 31 deadline will be extended, and problems insurance brokers face when trying to enroll customers. Highlights include: Kaiser Health News reported on new changes to the Affordable Care Act that would give some people more time to stay in non-compliant plans and would extend the next open enrollment period. President Obama granted a one-year extension on non-compliant plans in November, and the latest extension would be two years in states that agree to it. Open enrollment will begin on Nov. 15, 2014, and continue until Feb. 15, 2015, giving consumers an extra month to purchase. But there’s one deadline that won’t be changing. In a Washington Examiner article, President Obama insisted that the March 31 deadline for consumers to buy insurance would not change. “You have time now to sign up,” Obama insisted. “If everybody waits until the last minute … then in some ways it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.” According to a Washington Times article, insurance brokers say they are having a hard time signing up consumers because of problems with the system. As part of the process, brokers must send customers to to determine if they qualify for a subsidy.  “The whole redirect process is so Byzantine,” eHealth, Inc. CEO Gary Lauer said, noting that Internet sales giant Amazon doesn’t send users to another website between browsing and checking out. “It just doesn’t work.” Brokers are asking for “direct enrollment” that would allow consumers to go through all the steps on a single website.

Enrollment in Health Insurance Marketplace climbs to 4.2 million in Feb.

27 percent of February Federal Marketplace enrollees are young adults Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace continued to rise in February to a five-month total of 4.2 million. As in January, the percent of young adults who selected a Marketplace plan was 3 percentage points higher than it was from October through December (27 percent versus 24 percent).  Based on enrollment patterns in other health care programs, it is expected that more people will sign up as we get closer to the March 31st deadline.