By Louise Norris
March 31, 2013
Amid extensions in nearly every other state, HealthSource RI had maintained the March 31 deadline, and had not announced any extensions as of Monday evening. But late on Monday night, their website had a large message saying “Tried to enroll but couldn’t get through? Call our contact center to see if you qualify for a special open enrollment period.” Residents who ran into difficulty trying to apply on Monday should call 1-855-840-HSRI to talk with someone at the exchange and see if they can still enroll. There were some slowdowns with the federal data hub, and volume at HealthSourceRI might have also slowed the application process for some enrollees. It appears that the exchange is trying to work with those people to get them covered if possible.
By March 30, HealthSource RI, the state-run exchange in Rhode Island, had enrolled 26,128 people in private plans (up from 19,690 three weeks earlier). By March 8, Medicaid enrollment through the exchange had reached 48,602. And also by March 8, an additional 795 people – representing 133 employers – had enrolled through their employer in the small business portion of the exchange. A little over 3000 of the enrollees in QHPs had not paid their first month’s premium as of March 8, but many may still do so before the due date set by their carriers. Their policies are not technically in force until the first premium is paid.
HealthSourceRI has been especially creative with marketing, even teaching parents how to use the social media websites that their young adult children frequent, in a blatant effort to have the parents nag them about getting health insurance before the March 31 deadline.
RI lawmakers are currently considering how to fund HealthSourceRI’s projected $24 million annual budget, starting in fiscal year 2016 when federal funds are used up. In some states, a per-member fee is being assessed, but RI’s small population (and correspondingly small enrollment total) would result in very high per-member fees if the exchanged were to rely solely on that method of funding. As a result, they are considering other options, including Republican lawmakers’ plan to have the state use Healthcare.gov instead of operating (and funding) its own exchange.
Rates in Rhode Island are a little higher than the national average. In RI, the lowest cost bronze plan averages $264/month, versus a national average of $249. Three carriers are offering a total of 12 plans in HealthSource RI:
Tufts Health Plan has expressed its intention to participate in the exchange in 2015.
RI joined several other states in rejecting President Obama’s mid-November policy cancellation “fix” that would have allowed existing plans to extend into 2014. Insureds in RI who received cancellation notices last fall had to enroll in a new ACA-compliant plan to replace their old coverage. They (and anyone else needing a new plan) have until March 31 to enroll – after that date, enrollment is not allowed (on or off-exchange) unless the applicant experiences a qualifying event that triggers a special open enrollment period (birth, adoption, marriage, loss of other minimum essential coverage, moving, etc.).
Gov. Lincoln Chafee established the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange through an executive order in 2011. The state submitted a blueprint for a state-run exchange to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and received conditional approval in December 2012. The state exchange was re-branded as Health Source RI in July 2013.
Chafee’s executive order established the exchange with the executive branch of state government and set up a 13-member board of directors. The board receives input from the Expert Advisory Committee (which includes representatives of insurance brokers, insurers and medical providers) and the Rhode Island Healthcare Reform Commission (which includes more than 200 stakeholders). The Commission was established by Chafee in early 2011 and charged with implementing health care reform in the state. The Commission includes multiple workgroups that study and provide recommendations on various aspects of exchange operations.
According to the state about 126,000 people in Rhode Island are uninsured — approximately 12 percent of the population. Between policies available on the exchange and through increased Medicaid enrollment, the state hopes to achieve near universal coverage. However, the state has not set a target date for reaching that goal.
Health Source RI
State Exchange Profile: Rhode Island
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Rhode Island’s
progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.
Health Care Advocate, Office of the Attorney General
Serves all consumer and health care professionals with health-related problems.
Rhode Island Consumer Assistance Program
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.
(401) 462-9520 / email@example.com
Let your Rhode Island governor and legislators know how you feel about the state’s proposed health insurance exchange.Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee