By Carla Anderson
March 31, 2014
Missouri has balked at most provisions of the Affordable Care Act. It refused to implement a state-run marketplace, rejected Medicaid expansion, and passed several laws that effectively restrict consumer assistance. 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, a federal judge agreed and issued a temporary injunction to halt enforcement of the law. Legal experts believe the judge’s decision will have implications for other states that have enacted similar restrictions on navigators.
Despite active opposition to the health reform law, the state still managed to reach 79 percent of the target for signups through five months of the initial open enrollment period. The number of Missouri residents who have purchased health insurance through HealthCare.gov stands at 74,469 according to the March 11 enrollment report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, nearly 32,000 people qualified for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) under the programs’ existing eligibility rules.
Eighty-five percent of those selecting a health plan qualified for subsidies to help pay the cost of their premiums, compared to 83 percent nationally. The percentage of 18 to 34 year-olds signing up in Missouri is 28 percent, compared to 25 percent nationally. Signups among that age group are considered vital to keeping insurance costs from jumping up in 2015 and beyond.
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 in Missouri 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.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Missouri, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, and Coventry are selling policies through the federal marketplace in Missouri. On average, consumers have a choice of 17 policy options. That’s much lower than the national average of 53 options.
While a small number of insurers often predicates higher premium costs, Missouri premiums are near the national average. According to a report released by HHS, the average cost for a bronze plan —the lowest-cost option — in Missouri is $245 a month. The national average for a bronze policy is $249 a month.
According to HHS, about 800,000 Missouri residents are uninsured.
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.
(800) 726-7390 / email@example.com
Let your Missouri governor and legislators know how you feel about the state’s proposed health insurance exchange.