By Carla Anderson
March 31, 2014
Signups for private health insurance plans grew by about 12,000 during February, reaching 45,561 as of March 1. While Louisiana is not expanding its Medicaid program, about 9,000 people who visited the marketplace qualified for either Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) under existing eligibility criteria.
Demographics for Louisiana enrollees are similar to those seen nationally. Among Louisiana residents selecting a private health plan, 87 percent qualified for financial assistance, which is 4 points higher than the national figure. Seventeen percent of Louisianans selected a bronze plan (18 percent nationally), 63 percent selected a silver plan (63 percent nationally), 11 percent selected a gold plan (11 percent nationally), 8 percent selected a platinum plan (6 percent nationally) and 1 percent selected a catastrophic plan (1 percent nationally). Twenty-nine percent of enrollees were between the ages of 18 and 34.
March 31 is the last day to apply for private health insurance coverage for 2014. However, federal officials announced that anyone who has started an application on HealthCare.gov but not completed it as of March 31 can have until April 15 to finish enrolling. The extension is available inLouisiana and all other states using HealthCare.gov for enrollment. Consumers can qualify for the extension just by clicking a box on HealthCare.gov; no documentation is needed.
Enrollment for Medicaid or CHIP continues throughout the year.
Individuals who remain uninsured after March may face a tax penalty of $95 or one percent of income, whichever is greater.
Louisiana is among the 26 states that left all responsibility for its health insurance marketplace to the federal government. Gov. Bobby Jindal repeatedly rejected a state-run exchange and even returned a $1 million federal planning grant.
Jindal also rejected Medicaid expansion in the state, a decision that leaves 34 percent of uninsured Louisiana adults in the coverage gap — neither qualifying for Medicaid nor eligible for subsidies to purchase insurance through marketplace. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 866,000 Louisiana residents are uninsured and almost 242,000 of them are shut out of both Medicaid and subsidies to purchase insurance through the marketplace.
Five insurers are offering individual and family policies through the marketplace in Louisiana: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, Coventry, Humana, Louisiana Health Cooperative, and Vantage. Louisiana Health Cooperative is a new is a new consumer operated and oriented plan (CO-OP), formed by formed by Ochsner Health System and other groups. Louisiana’s Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon told The Times-Picayune that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana currently controls 75 percent of the state’s health insurance market, so it is encouraging to see a new player and three other insurers participating in the new marketplace.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, Louisiana Health Cooperative and Vantage are selling policies through small business (SHOP) exchange. Businesses with 50 or fewer employees can use the SHOP for 2014; the Affordable Care Act calls for opening the SHOP to larger employers in future years.
According to a report released by HHS, the average cost for a bronze plan —the lowest-cost option — in Louisiana is $265 a month. The national average for a bronze policy is $249 a month.
State Exchange Profile: Louisiana
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Louisiana’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.
Louisiana Department of Insurance, Office of Health Insurance
Assists consumers who have purchased insurance on the individual market or who have insurance through an employer who only does business in Louisiana.
(225) 219-4770 / Toll Free: (800) 259-5301
Let your Louisiana governor and legislators know how you feel about the state’s proposed health insurance exchange.Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal