This article underwritten by: Renetta DuBose
Indiana Black Legislative Caucus Talks Education, Healthcare and Jobs, Part II
Navigating the Affordable Care Act can be a difficult endeavor. By January, everyone will need to understand it because all will be affected. Indiana’s black legislative delegation put the Affordable Care Act under the microscope. With the help of an informational piece from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a panel of health care industry experts dissected the three-year-old law for individuals who attended the 16th Annual Legislative Symposium of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus.
“The Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obama Care, is about to kick in and big changes are coming to health insurance in 2014,” according to the Kaiser video.
Indiana Hospital Association Vice President of Government Relations Brian Tabor said hospitals are the biggest players in the healthcare law because the new process decreases Medicare payments and drives in more of the country’s uninsured who will now have insurance.
“When we looked at the math around that, the reduction in payments under Medicare and balancing that with the increase in payment, the increase in reimbursement that we would see because of the reduction in the number of uninsured, that worked out quite well,” said Tabor.
The government separates individuals in the following categories:
Government via Medicare and Medicaid
Buy own insurance
For those who receive insurance through an employer, not much will change. However, out of pocket fees will be capped and free preventative care will be available. Employers must cover anyone working more than 30 hours or get hit with a penalty. That component has been extended until 2015. Methodist Hospitals Vice President of Government and External Affairs Denise Dillard said the Affordable Care Act will change the way couples choose their insurance.
“Right now at Methodist, for instance, you can do that [choose your spouse’s insurance if you feel it is better]. Two parties are working. I have the best insurance. My husband says I don’t want to use my insurance at my job, I’ll use Methodist Hospitals. Now, it is going to be implemented at many businesses you will be charged for that spouse to come on to that hospital [or any other business] insurance,” said Dillard.
Not much will change for seniors on Medicare because the government is already helping with prescription drugs and better preventative care.
“If you’re income is low, [up to 138 percent of the poverty level or $15,856 for a single person], Medicaid will cover you, most likely in a private insurance plan, but there’s a catch. The Supreme Court ruled that governors and legislatures of each state should decide whether to be part of expanding Medicaid. For states that get on board, the government will cover almost all the cost,” said the Kaiser video.
For other states, like Indiana, the push now is for enrollment. Healthcare exchanges begin October 1 and run through March 31, 2014. Starting April 1, the federal government will impose a fine on anyone without insurance. This is due to the component of the law that is known as the Individual Mandate. Kaiser reports that individuals will be charged up to $95 (or 1 percent of family income) next year for not having insurance. The fine increases to as much as $695 (or up to 2.5 percent of family income) in 2016.
Young people, who are unable to purchase insurance and will not be covered by an employer, can stay on their parents insurance until the age of 26. Low cost insurance is available to individuals until the age of 30.
Community HealthNet Executive Director Dr. Janet Seabrook said the federal government has put 2.3 million dollars into 17 thousand health centers across the country, three of which are located in Northwest Indiana. Those federal dollars will fund new employment positions known as navigators who will assist those who need help acquiring insurance.
“We are expected to hire people who are recently unemployed. You have to be unemployed for at least six months to be an outreach and enrollment specialist and counselor at a federally qualified health center,” said Dr. Seabrook.
If a Hoosier cannot afford to purchase insurance, the state of Indiana is expanding the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) which state leaders said is another option for residents.