As we near the “opening day” of the Federally-Facilitated Health Care Marketplaces (Exchanges), yet another delay comes out of Washington. The Small Business Health Options Plan (SHOP) that was scheduled to be functional the same day that the individual Marketplace is scheduled to open is now delayed. Surprised? I’m not in the least. And we still have four more days to the official opening of the on-line Marketplace that we have all been anxiously waiting for. I wonder what else might happen in the next four days?
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama administration acknowledged for the first time yesterday (Thursday) that a “technical” problem is forcing them to delay the rollout of the SHOP, and that it will be unable to accept on-line enrollments/applications. They go on to say that people close to the situation are also skeptical that the online marketplace for individuals will be ready.
My own experience in just trying to register on the Centers for Medicare and Medicad Services website/portal as a licensed agent and user of the Marketplace was a disaster and took more than one phone call. Therese in our office was told numerous times by numerous people (this after many phone calls) that I was in fact a minor and not eligible to be a user! If just agent/agency registration was this cumbersome, what’s going to be next?
It’s another good day to “take a breath” in the world of Health Care reform, as we can now relax, knowing that employers are not going to be penalized for NOT distributing the Model Notices provided by the Department of Labor. Here is the proof of what I just shared, right on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) website.
The Department of Labor was quick to relay a few months ago that employers would be penalized if they did not adhere to the ACA guidelines of informing all employees (FT, PT and even seasonal) of the Federally-Facilitated Marketplace (aka Exchange) here in Wisconsin by October 1, 2013! Business owners were scrambling for find the right information to comply.
I wrote a blog update on August 16, relaying that although the notices were due October 1, I wasn’t in any big hurry to get clients too excited about complying, that there would indeed be plenty of time in late September to get these notices to their employees. My impetus for this was because of the other delays that we had already witnessed, namely the one year delay in the 50+ employee mandate of “play or pay”.
Interestingly enough, this update on the DOL website has very quietly been released with no fanfare no media frenzy or anything. Do you wonder why? I do, and I have a theory about it. However, at this point, I may keep the theory to myself and just watch this all unfold, as we count down the days to October 1st. Does it ever feel like this is a case of deja vu? Sounds like “Y2K” to me. No, the sky won’t fall, but I have to wonder what else may happen between now and October that we all might be thinking that it was “much ado about nothing.”
The Wisconsin insurance commissioner’s office has reviewed the rates submitted to them by the 13 insurance companies participating in the Health Care Exchange. The analysis looked at the percent increase from pre to post January 1, 2014. Their published findings reviewed individual rates for a 21-year-old, 40-year-old and 63-year old, with a $2,000 deductible and prescription drug coverage. Eight major markets were reviewed for individuals of those ages, including Appleton.
Commissioner Ted Nickel said, “From our analysis, it appears premiums will increase for most consumers. And, while there is no question that some consumers will have subsidies and may not pay these higher rates, someone will pay for the increased premiums whether it is the consumer or the federal government.”
As we have stated to our clients, insurance companies are required to provide the same rate for individuals obtaining health insurance in or out of the Health Care Exchange. If you are concerned what a rate may be for you or someone you know, they can come to us for an individual insurance cost comparison. We do this every day to help people navigate through the maze of insurance decisions.