Health care deadline approaches
by Paisley Boston
Feb 04, 2014 | 2245 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Affordable Care Act has been causing uproar among citizens and according to Affordable Care Representative Veronica Griffin and the deadline for enrollment is rapidly approaching.

Griffin said that she is rallying the support of local churches and social organizations to aid in informing citizens about the significance of enrollment.

"Currently we have only enrolled around 50 people in Bolivar County. We are trying to let the citizens know about the Affordable Care Act and inform them about the possible consequences of them not being covered," said Griffin.

Every person is required to have medical insurance by March 31.

"If you are eligible and you do not sign up, then there is a penalty of $95 or three percent of your earnings for the first year and it will increase the second year," she added.

After March 31, an individual can only purchase coverage this year if they experience a life-changing event, such as a job loss that results in a loss of health insurance.

The next open enrollment period starts on Oct. 7.

Insurance must be purchased by the 15th of any given month if an individual desires to have coverage at the start of the following month.

"Before the Affordable Care Act came into play, people could apply or purchase insurance at any time but now they can only enroll on enrollment dates," she added.

Griffin said Humana is the only carrier of Affordable Care for Bolivar County.

"The two carriers for Affordable Care are Humana and Magnolia but Humana is the carrier for Bolivar County. There are four counties who have two choices for carriers Desoto, Hinds, Rankin and Madison," said Griffin.

"I do not personally recommend anyone to try to go in and sign up without assistance from a representative because representatives know ways to make sure that you get exactly what you need without paying too much money," she continued.

Four levels of insurance coverage are available through the Insurance Marketplace.

The least expensive coverage, the bronze level, pays 60 percent of health care costs.

The most expensive plan, platinum, pays 90 percent.

A bare-bones catastrophic plan is available to those under age 30.

According to Griffin in some instances, coverage is paid through tax credits.

Once an applicant signs up for the insurance, the federal government will send a notice Humana and inform the company of how much of a tax credit a person is to receive for their health insurance.

This year, tax credits are available for those who do not have medical insurance.

"If a person's income is 100 percent of the federal poverty level which is a little over $11,000 they would get a full tax credit for their health insurance – they would be paying around $15 per month," said Griffin.

The government subsidy is applied directly and immediately to a person's health coverage.

"We have people who are paying 44 cents a month for their health insurance – it all depends on the size of the household. If you have a family of four and your income is around $19,000 then you are going to get the maximum amount of coverage," added Griffin.

The State of Mississippi did not expand Medicaid, which will lead to a large amount of uninsured Mississippians.

Individuals who earn less than $15,302, or families of four who earn less than $31,155, still qualify for Medicaid.

According to Griffin the catch is that this help is only available in 26 states.

These states agreed to a federal expansion of Medicaid coverage to people with incomes below 138 percent of the poverty level.

"We have a big gap of people that will not be able to get affordable health care. There is nothing we can do about people who are not eligible but there are only a small number of people who may not be eligible for assistance," continued Griffin.

If an individual makes more than $11,500 a year as an individual or more than $23,500 as a family of four, they can buy private health insurance at a reduced cost in the Insurance Marketplace.

Unfortunately, if they make less than these amounts, they may not get a reduced cost, and depending on locality, the person may not be eligible for Medicaid.

"The people who are not eligible are those who already have coverage through their employer and those whose income is not high enough and that is according to the federal poverty level," she said.

"Even if you make $85,000 a year with a household of four, you still will receive some kind of help with your insurance," added Griffin.

According to the Affordable Care Act, if Medicaid is not an option and an individual cannot afford health insurance, then they are exempt from the tax penalty.

If an individual does not have health coverage, the Affordable Care Act will provide additional funding to community health centers.

These centers provide services on a sliding scale based on income.

"It is easy to apply, an individual can apply over the phone – all they need is to provide to us is their income, name, date of birth and the size of their household. We do not discriminate against individuals who have preexisting illnesses but we do need to know whether or not an individual smokes," said Griffin.

To enroll or to get more information, visit HealthCare.gov or contact Griffin at 662-523-2868.