By Carla Anderson
April 1, 2014
March 31 was the last day to apply for private health insurance coverage for 2014. However, consumers who started applications on HealthCare.gov by the deadline and self-reported they weren’t able to finish have until April 15 to complete enrollment. The extension is available in Michigan and all other states using HealthCare.gov for enrollment.
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.
More than 144,000 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). Michigan exceeded the federal government’s goal for the first five months of open enrollment by nearly 16,000 people, and the state is seventh in the nation in the number of signups.
Eighty-seven percent of Michiganders selecting a private health plan qualified for financial assistance, compared to 83 percent nationally. Of Michigan residents selecting a private health plan, 11 percent selected a bronze plan (18 percent nationally), 74 percent selected a silver plan (63 percent nationally), 11 percent selected a gold plan (11 percent nationally), 2 percent selected a platinum plan (6 percent nationally) and 1 percent selected a catastrophic plan (1 percent nationally).Twenty-six percent of enrollees were between the ages of 18 and 34. Signups among that age group are considered vital to keeping insurance costs from jumping up in 2015 and beyond.
In addition to those who signed up for private health insurance, more than 40,000 people qualified for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) under the current eligibility criteria.
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.
Enrollment for the Healthy Michigan expansion begins April 1. Individuals will be able to enroll online, by phone, or in person. However, the state has yet to release the specifics, such as the enrollment website address or call center number. Until March 20, the state had not committed to the April 1 start for enrollment as it was completing tests of its information systems. The state is taking care to avoid problems like those that plagued the federal marketplace last 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.
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