By Carla Anderson
April 21, 2014
The open enrollment period to purchase health insurance for 2014 through the marketplace has ended. 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. You may be able to buy private insurance outside the marketplace. 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.
About 57,600 Arizonans selected a health plan through HealthCare.gov between Oct. 1 and March 1, which is below the federal government’s target of about 84,000 enrollments during that timeframe. An additional 67,000 people qualified for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Continuing a trend seen in earlier months, Arizonans showed a greater preference for higher premium/lower deductible plans than the national average. In Arizona, 17 percent selected gold plans and 17 percent selected platinum plans; nationally, the figures were 11 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Premiums in Arizona are lower than in many other parts of the country, which is likely a factor in the tilt toward higher end policies. Nineteen percent of those who have enrolled in a health plan are between the ages of 18 and 34, and an additional 19 percent are 17 or younger.
Arizona is among the 26 states that opted to use the federal health insurance marketplace, HealthCare.gov. While Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signaled a preference for a state-run health insurance marketplace, she ultimately chose the federally operated exchange for her state. In her letter informing the federal government of her decision, Brewer said the state had made significant process toward establishing its own exchange. However, she continued, a lack of information from federal officials made it impossible for the state to commit to implementing its own exchange.
About 300,000 Arizona residents will qualify for the state’s expanded Medicaid program, which was passed by the Legislature with some Republican support and approved by Brewer. The Medicaid decision allows people earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level — about $15,000 for an individual — to gain health coverage. Some Republican legislators and conservatives challenged the expansion. They first launched a petition to put the Medicaid expansion on the November 2014 ballot. The referendum push failed, prompting a legal challenge. The suit claimed that because the tax plan to fund the state’s portion of expansion costs was passed with less than a two-thirds majority, it was unconstitutional. Oral arguments were made in mid-December, and a judge dismissed the case in early February. However, the Goldwater Institute (the conservative group that filed the lawsuit) appealed the decision, and a three-judge panel is deciding if the Arizona Court of Appeals will review the case.
State Exchange Profile: Arizona
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Arizona’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.
Let your Arizona governor and legislators know how you feel about the state’s proposed health insurance exchange.Arizona Governor Jan Brewer