Beginning today, individuals can bypass the federal website and use GoHealth to enroll in subsidy-supported health plans over the phone with a licensed advisor. GoHealth is the first private marketplace to go live with an integration allowing consumers to get tax credits and subsidies and fully enroll in 2014 coverage.
In August, GoHealth confirmed a Web-Broker Entity agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) allowing the company to instantly quote rates, calculate tax credits and subsidies and enroll consumers in health plans created by the new health reform law.
Due in part to the bumpy rollout and technical glitches on the federal exchange website Healthcare.gov, many consumers have yet to compare and enroll in coverage that takes effect by January 1, 2014. Now in a matter of seconds, shoppers using GoHealthInsurance.com can:
View plans available to them
Apply savings directly to monthly premiums
Speak with licensed advisor to finalize enrollment
Shane Cruz, Senior Vice President of Technology at GoHealth who is overseeing the company’s ongoing effort says, “”I am proud to announce that everything is working and we are now live. Americans who need health insurance can successfully enroll in a 2014 health plan and obtain financial assistance, if eligible.”
Consumers will now have an extra week to sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, if they want coverage to begin January 1st. The Obama administration’s announced it would extend the enrollment deadline until December 23rd. The decision gives consumers extra time to compare coverage options and enroll. The original deadline for completing enrollment was set for December 15th.
The move highlights the time sensitivity and pressure for the Obama administration and democrats to get the law’s health insurance exchanges up and running successfully. Officials cited difficulties with the federal exchange website, HealthCare.gov in the delay, and believe the shift will help accommodate the crowds estimated to use the federal and state exchanges in the coming weeks.
Additionally, the Obama administration announced that starting next year, it will push back the start of the sign-up period for those buying individual and small business insurance until mid-November, rather than mid-October. The 2014 open enrollment period will begin on November 15th and last until January. White House spokesman Jay Carney added, “This gives more time to assess the pool of people who are getting insurance through the marketplaces and then make decisions about what rates will look like in the coming year.”
While the decision is meant to simplify lives, some analysts point out the changing date might actually pose a challenge to some consumers lacking health insurance. By extending the enrollment period to overlap with the holiday season, consumers with a lack of disposable income might feel conflicted between purchasing health insurance and buying gifts. Insurance companies might also find it more challenging to process enrollments in time for coverage to start on January 1st.
What are your thoughts on the decision to push back enrollment deadlines? Will it hurt consumers and insurance companies more than help?
Just over a year ago, Medicare rolled out a new quality incentive program for hospitals, rewarding and penalizing based on two-dozen quality measurements like patient satisfaction. This program was part of a major shift for Medicare, which traditionally compensated hospitals and doctors based on the type of services they provided patients regardless of the actual quality of care.
The ‘Value-Based Purchasing Program’ created under the health care law, began withholding 1 percent of hospitals’ reimbursements last October and with plans to dole out the $850 million to hospitals based on how well they scored on patient experience surveys and their ability to follow basic clinical guidelines. Under the program, hospitals have the opportunity to earn back the amount they gave up plus even more if they exceed performance standards. Close to 3,000 hospitals participated in the program.
Now in the second year of Medicare’s program, government records show that more hospitals are receiving penalties than bonuses, with the average penalty being steeper than last year’s. Medicare has raised payments to about 1,231 of the participating hospitals, while decreasing payment to 1,451 of the hospitals.
The bonuses and penalties are part of the health care law’s efforts to incentivize hospitals and doctors to provide better patient care; with scores based on how frequently hospitals follow basic clinical standards of care and how patients rate the way they were treated. According to Dr. Patrick Conway, Medicare’s Chief Medical Officer, most hospitals have improved since the program’s inception a year ago. However, even the hospitals that do perform well may still lose money simply because they are not scoring as well or have not improved as much as competing hospitals.
The bonuses and penalties of the program come at a questionable time for the nation as highly publicized healthcare.gov technical issues and raising premium prices raise doubts about the effectiveness of the health care law. While the quality incentive program has received mixed feelings from hospital executives, many do admit that the sudden government attention has prompted hospitals to also pay more attention, thus improving patient care.
Don’t have dental coverage? How would you feel about volunteering your time in exchange for free dental services? To some, this may sound like a far-fetched idea, but in certain cities it’s actually a reality.
A recent story by Kaiser Health News and USA Today highlights some 4,000 uninsured volunteers in Michigan who are receiving care under the Calhoun County Dentists’ Partnership program. The program, privately financed, requires patients to perform volunteer work in order to earn free dental services. Whether it’s filling bags at the food bank or helping other local nonprofits such as the Salvation Army and Red Cross, the program allows low-income or uninsured individuals access to free dental care.
Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act requires that individual and small-group plans sold through both state-based exchanges and the private market cover dental services for children. However, some health care professionals are seeing a need for volunteer aid programs, as the federal health law, which expands insurance coverage to millions, actually does little to improve adults’ access to dental care. According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, over 73 percent of low-income adults under 65 lack dental coverage. The use of dental care services has seen a significant decline since 2007.
Patients participating in the volunteer program don’t think of it as getting free dental care because they’re putting actual hours of work in. The Calhoun County Dentists’ program requires patients to volunteer four hours for every $100 worth of care. In order to be eligible for the volunteer program, individuals must lack dental coverage and earn incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level (about $24,000 in 2013). Before seeing a dentist, patients are also required to attend a two-hour class on oral health and visit with a hygienist for a health and dental screening. This limits the actual time spent with the dentists.
What do you think about this type of volunteer program? Would you find it feasible to spend hours volunteering in exchange for dental care or other services? Let us know below.
The President addressed a major cause of concern among consumers on Thursday, the cancellation of insurance policies. Some Americans are receiving letters from insurers stating that they may lose the original plans they purchased in the individual market because they fail to meet the new healthcare law requirements and basic benefits.
In his public statement, Obama acknowledged this problem and also his past assurances that anyone who likes their current plan can keep it. Already, under the grandfather clause, those with plans pre-dating the ACA can keep those plans. As a solution to the current problem at hand, Obama extended that same principle to include people who have purchased plans after the law took effect.
What This Means to You
The healthcare law states that insurers are required to notify consumers whether their renewed plans will not meet the Affordable Care Act’s minimum coverage standards (prescription drugs, doctor’s visits, etc). Insurers can offer customers the option to remain on the current plan, however they will also have to alert consumers of other options available through the marketplaces.
State insurance commissioners can still decide what plans can and can’t be sold in each state, but the bottom line is insurers can extend current plans that would otherwise be canceled into 2014, and those individuals whose plans have been canceled can choose to re-enroll in the same kind of plan.
Consumers who have received a letter informing of plan cancellation or failure to meet standard benefits are encouraged to explore their insurance marketplace options to browse new plans and compare costs. Shopping the marketplaces may help individuals find better options and tax credits to help lower coverage costs. Obama admitted that while this idea may not completely solve every problem, it will help a lot of people.
The GoHealth Chicago offices received a special visit from Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday, November 12th, commemorating the expansion of the company and creation of over 650 new jobs as part of the 2014 health insurance enrollment effort.
While the nation currently faces public healthcare challenges, GoHealth has shown through steady hiring and growth that they are prepared to help customers shop for insurance. With over 40 million Americans uninsured, GoHealth has a daunting task ahead but with over 700 licensed insurance agents available online or by phone, they are prepared to tackle this problem.
Mayor Emanuel said of the situation, “The technology economy is thriving, particularly in the health IT space, and this is due in no small part to the success of companies like GoHealth. The company is uniquely positioned as a leader of a fluid, changing market and is well-poised to continue its success in the city. GoHealth is creating the jobs of tomorrow and I am pleased that they are finding and training Chicagoans to fill those positions and shape the economic future of this important industry.”
Individuals in need of health insurance can use GoHealth right now to get a tax subsidy calculation and get a personalized health plan recommendation from a licensed insurance advisor. With the first ever open enrollment under the new health law, GoHealth took the tremendous opportunity to find and train hundreds of qualified Chicagoans to support business and expand workforce growth in the community.
GoHealth’s recent expansion brings the city of Chicago one step closer to Mayor Emanuel’s goal of adding 40,000 jobs to the Chicago tech scene in the next decade, doubling current tech sector employment.