By Carla Anderson
February 18, 2014
More than 112,000 Michigan residents have selected a private health plan since Oct. 1 according to the latest enrollment report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). An additional 34,032 qualified for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Eighty-six percent of Michiganders selecting a private health plan qualified for financial assistance, compared to 82 percent nationally. Twelve percent of Michiganders selected a bronze plan (19 percent nationally), 73 percent selected a silver plan (62 percent nationally), 12 percent selected a gold plan (12 percent nationally), 3 percent selected a platinum plan (7 percent nationally) and 1 percent selected a catastrophic plan (1 percent nationally).
Enrollment for private insurance in 2014 continues through March 31. Policies purchased by the 15th of the month will be effective the first day of the following month. Individuals who remain uninsured after March may face a tax penalty of $95 or one percent of income, whichever is greater. Enrollment for Medicaid or CHIP continues throughout the year.
Despite support for a state-run health insurance exchange from Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, Michigan is operating a partnership exchange in collaboration with the federal government. Michigan oversees the health plans that participate in the exchange, while most other functions are managed by the federal government. Michigan residents use the federal website, HealthCare.gov, to compare plans and purchase coverage.
According to the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS), 13 health insurance companies are selling individual and family policies through the federal marketplace in Michigan. Collectively, the insurers are offering about 75 options, but not all options are available in all areas. The DIFS website includes a premium calculator that allows consumers to see the options and estimated costs in a given county. However, consumers must use HealthCare.gov when they are ready to enroll.
Four Michigan organizations received navigator grants to help consumers access and use the marketplace: Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, Community Bridges Management Inc., Arab Community Center for Economic & Social Services, and American Indian Health & Family Services of SE Michigan.
According to a report released by HHS, the average cost for a bronze plan —the lowest-cost option — in Michigan is $222 a month. The national average for a bronze policy is $249 a month.
According HHS more than 1.1 million people (14 percent of the population) in Michigan are uninsured and eligible to use the health insurance marketplace.
In late December, Michigan received federal approval to expand and reform its Medicaid program; within the state, the program is known as Healthy Michigan. The state needed special approval as it includes cost-sharing requirements not typical for Medicaid programs. Enrollees with incomes between 100 to 133 percent of the federal poverty level must contribute up to 2 percent of their income to health savings accounts that will be administered by the state. The expansion extends eligibility to about 470,000 people who did not previously qualify for Medicaid.
The legislation authorizing Medicaid expansion set the start date for April 1. However, the Michigan Department of Community Health has not yet announced when enrollment will begin. A spokesperson said the state’s information systems are not yet ready to handle enrollment and the state wants to avoid problems like those that plagued the federal marketplace last year. Consumer advocates are concerned that enrollment for the Medicaid expansion won’t start until the enrollment period for private health insurance ends, meaning some people who are expecting to qualify for Medicaid could be caught without coverage. People who are unsure whether they will qualify for Medicaid should call Enroll Michigan (517-367-7293) for assistance before March 31.
State Exchange Profile: Michigan
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Michigan’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.
Let your Michigan governor and legislators know how you feel about the state’s proposed health insurance exchange.Michigan Governor Rick Snyder