As of Jan. 1, 2014, the subsidized Healthy New York health insurance program will no longer cover individuals and sole proprietors. That would be me, a freelance writer. I have been paying about $253 a month for very basic coverage, no prescriptions and it doesn’t pay for an ambulance. That’s basic!
Instead, I have been referred to a new health benefit exchange called NY State of Health. Health benefit exchanges, health insurance marketplaces, are a creation of the Affordable Care Act. All 50 states were encouraged to create these exchanges which are to serve as access points for the Obamacare’s goal of universal health care coverage.
Unless the law changes in the next weeks, everyone is required to have health insurance coverage beginning Jan. 1. Employers have a number of ways to offer that benefit, if they choose. Individuals may begin to enroll on Tuesday, Oct. 1, through an exchange. Both employers and individuals face fines for non-compliance.
NY State of Health will offer plan enrollment online, by telephone, or in person with the assistance of In-Person Assistors (IPAs)/Navigators. Other states may have different options. As a prudent person, I have gone to the NY State of Health website to review my options prior to having to make a decision. In my county, Monroe, five insurers will offer plans to individuals, and three to small businesses. There are no prices listed. At the federal site, HealthCare.gov, it states that plan and cost information will be available Oct. 1.
I am also very interested in having my health care insurance costs subsidized. In New York, I am asked to download an Excel spreadsheet called the Tax Credit and Premium Estimator which is full of macros in order to find out. I do have the ability to open that type of file but cannot because I choose not to disable the protective services which are warning about the content of the file and the macros.
In a story published yesterday, the New York Times points to many issues that health insurance exchanges are having as the first enrollment date approaches. In 30 states, the Federal government will be providing all or part of the exchange since the states have refused to participate. They will be unable to accept small business enrollments for at least a month. In Oregon, no one can sign up online until at least mid-October. The District of Columbia site is generating errors for those calculating subsidies.
The House of Representatives has passed and sent to the Senate a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government in lieu of a budget. Included in that CR is a one year delay in the Obamacare mandate that individuals buy health insurance. The Senate is expected to reject the CR with the delay language, and a government shutdown looms, the Associated Press reports. The health insurance marketplaces, ready or not, open Oct. 1 but the federal government might not be open.
And I still have no idea what my health care insurance options will be.