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Alabama health insurance exchange

alabama guide to health insurance

Alabama health insurance exchange

By contributor
July 24, 2014

Obamacare enrollment in Alabama has ended for 2014. People who get married or divorced, change jobs, have a child or experience another qualifying event may be eligible for a special enrollment period. Enrollment for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) continues throughout the year. Individuals who don’t have health insurance that provides “minimum essential coverage” may have to pay a penalty: $95 or one percent of income, whichever is greater.

Open enrollment for 2015 coverage through the marketplace begins Nov. 15.

Signups for qualified health plans (QHPs) in Alabama grew 78 percent — from 55,304 as of March 1 to 97,870 — in the final weeks of 2014 open enrollment. While Alabama is not expanding its Medicaid program, 22,564 people who visited the marketplace qualified for either Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) under existing eligibility criteria.

Among Alabama residents selecting a QHP, 85 percent qualified for financial assistance, which matches the national figure. Nine percent of Alabama residents selected a bronze plan (20 percent nationally), 77 percent selected a silver plan (65 percent nationally), 7 percent selected a gold plan (9 percent nationally), 5 percent selected a platinum plan (5 percent nationally) and 3 percent selected a catastrophic plan (2 percent nationally). Thirty-one percent of Alabama enrollees were between the ages of 18 and 34.

The federal government is operating the health insurance marketplace in Alabama, based on Gov. Robert Bentley’s November 2012 decision against a state-run marketplace. Bentley cited annual operating costs of up to $50 million as his reason for opting for a federally operated exchange. Bentley also ruled out an expansion of Medicaid in the state.

The decision against a state-run exchange came somewhat as a surprise. While the Republican governor consistently opposed many provisions of the Affordable Care Act, he repeatedly expressed support for a state health insurance exchange. He supported exchanges during his campaign for governor, and as governor, he used an executive order to establish the Alabama Health Insurance Exchange Study Commission. In November 2011, that commission unanimously recommended Alabama implement a state-run exchange. However, bills to establish a state-run exchange failed to pass in both the 2011 and 2012 sessions.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, which dominates the health insurance market in the state, and Humana sold individual health insurance through the federal marketplace in Alabama for 2014. According to HHS, Alabama consumers had the fewest choices among the 36 states with partnership or federally facilitated marketplace for 2014 coverage. State residents had an average of seven health plans from which to choose; the national average was 53.

Alabama health insurance exchange links

State Exchange Profile: Alabama
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Alabama’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.

Executive Order establishing Alabama Health Insurance Exchange Study Commission

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Let your Alabama governor and legislators know how you feel about the state’s proposed health insurance exchange.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
600 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery, Alabama 36130
PHONE: 334-242-7100
FAX: 334-353-0004
Contact by e-mail
Contact your Alabama State Senator and State Representative