As of Jan. 9, 197,539 Missouri residents have enrolled in private health insurance through HealthCare.gov. That figure includes both individuals who actively selected a 2015 plan and those who were automatically re-enrolled in their 2014 coverage. Last year, about 152,000 Missourians had insurance through the exchange, and advocates are confident 2015 enrollment will be higher.
Missouri residents have until Feb. 15 to sign up for health insurance on HealthCare.gov. Coverage purchased from now until Feb. 15 will be effective March. 1.
If you were among those whose 2014 coverage was automatically renewed, you also have until Feb. 15 to make changes. HealthCare.gov explains your renewal options. Most consumers will be better off by selecting new coverage. At a minimum, consumers should update their income and other household information to make sure premiums are correctly calculated for 2015.
Penalties for those who don’t have health insurance will go up this year. Find out if you qualify for an exemption and figure out how much you may owe.
New for 2015: more competition
Missouri is part of a national trend of expanded competition on the health insurance marketplace for 2015. The number of insurers offering policies in Missouri through HealthCare.gov doubled — going from four in 2014 to eight in 2015. Dan Mendelson, CEO of Avalere Health, told CNBC the growing participation by insurers is good news for consumers: “The exchanges are a robust commercial market — viable in the short run and very strategic for a future that has more individual choice.”
As of the fall of 2014, Missouri small businesses (those with 50 or fewer employees) can shop for health insurance through HealthCare.gov.
The launch of the online SHOP portal was delayed while fixes were made to the marketplace used by individuals. However, small employers were able to enroll in a SHOP plan through a broker or via a paper application while the fixes were underway.
For the 2015 coverage year, Missouri’s small employers can offer their employees a choice of several health plans within a single metal level through the SHOP’s “employee choice” option. Missouri is among 14 states using the federal exchange to implement employee choice.
How many people enrolled in 2014?
More than 152,000 Missourians purchased health insurance through the marketplace during 2014 open enrollment. That’s 23.2 percent of the estimated eligible market according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The national average was 28 percent.
In addition to those purchasing private insurance plans, 45,513 people qualified for either Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Among Missouri residents who purchased health insurance, 85 percent qualified for financial assistance, which matches the national figure. A report released in June by HHS showed the average monthly premium, after tax credits, for Missouri consumers was $59. Fifty-seven percent of enrollees paid $50 or less per month after subsidies.
Twenty-one percent of Missouri residents selected a bronze plan (20 percent nationally), 63 percent selected a silver plan (65 percent nationally), 13 percent selected a gold plan (9 percent nationally), 0 percent selected a platinum plan (5 percent nationally) and 3 percent selected a catastrophic plan (2 percent nationally). Twenty-nine percent of Missouri enrollees were between the ages of 18 and 34.
Legislative roadblocks to the Missouri marketplace
Many Missouri legislators have steadfastly fought against the Affordable Care Act and implementation of the health insurance marketplace.
Legislation to establish an exchange was introduced, but failed to pass, in both 2011 and 2012. Despite the lack of legislative authorization, some initial workgroups were established. In 2011, Gov. Jay Nixon established the Health Insurance Exchange Coordinating Council, which did some initial scoping and planning. Also in 2011, the Senate created the Interim Committee on Health Insurance Exchanges to explore Missouri’s options to establish a state-based exchange.
Members of the Interim Senate committee refused to authorize the use of federal grant money. In April 2012, the Missouri legislature rejected a $50 million grant to upgrade the state’s Medicaid information system as some legislators believed the system would be used as a springboard to building a state-run exchange.
In May 2012, the Missouri legislature approved a ballot measure to prevent the executive branch from authorizing a state-based health insurance exchange without legislative or popular approval — even though Gov. Nixon repeatedly stated his administration would not authorize an exchange by executive order. Voters passed the ballot measure in November 2012, and state defaulted to the federally operated exchange.
Missouri requires training and licensing for navigators that go far beyond federal standards. Legislation also prohibits navigators from providing “advice concerning the benefits, terms and features of a particular health plan, or offer advice about which exchange health plan is better or worse for a particular individual or employer.” Several health care advocacy groups challenged the restriction on providing advice, saying that is the core function of navigators. In January 2014, a federal judge agreed and issued an injunction to halt enforcement of the law.
In January 2015 Republican Sen. Bob Onder filed a bill that he says is aimed at blocking the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. SB 51 would revoke a health insurance company’s license to sell policies in Missouri if it accepts federal subsidies for policies sold through the federal marketplace. It’s questionable what impact the bill would have if it were to pass. One legal expert told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “It’s sort of an exercise in futility.”
Missouri health insurance exchange links
State Exchange Profile: Missouri
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Missouri’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.
Missouri Department of Insurance
Assists people insured by private health plans, Medicaid, or other plans in resolving problems pertaining to their health coverage; assists uninsured residents with access to care.
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