health insurance

Bob Beck

It’s Open Enrollment time for health insurance and for those choosing their insurance on the federal marketplace there is interesting news for Wyoming residents. Subsidy payments for those in the marketplace have increased and so in many cases, people can get more affordable and possibly better coverage.

Credit Courtesy MedicareSupplementplans.com

It’s open enrollment time for Medicare recipients. This is when you should review your drug coverage and sign up for a plan. Kelly Wicks is the Wyoming State Health Insurance Information program manager. She helps people review their coverage and she tells Bob Beck it’s not uncommon for people to need to switch plans. 

healthcare.gov

On November 1, people will be able to sign up for this year’s round of health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Wyoming’s rates are expected to increase by roughly seven percent, and while the increase will be less than some other states, Wyoming’s insurance prices are typically among the highest in the country.

Healthcare.gov

 

Tuesday is an important date for those hoping to sign up for health insurance. Enrollment has been underway since November for those who purchase health care coverage through the federal marketplace via the website HealthCare.gov. Kevin Counihan oversees that effort and he joins Bob Beck to explain why Tuesday is so important.

The number of people in Wyoming who have purchased health insurance through the federal health insurance marketplace has nearly doubled since last year. More than 21,000 consumers signed up for plans in 2015 as part of the Affordable Care Act. Last year, nearly 12,000 people signed up for a plan.

Monica Jennings is a Marketplace Navigator with Enroll Wyoming. She says despite many Wyomingites enrolling, there are still many in the state without health coverage who would have benefited from Medicaid expansion.

A legislative committee has rejected the Wyoming Department of Health's proposed Medicaid Expansion plan in favor of a bill crafted by the committee.  The Share plan was also endorsed by the governor.

The bill  approved by the committee would provide participants with a Medicaid-funded health savings account that they could use to purchase private insurance.  Senator Charles Scott said that he believes that will encourage participants to be careful with their health care spending.

Gillette Representative Eric Barlow said that remains to be seen.

The open enrollment period to sign up for health insurance starts November 15 and runs through February 15. That gives customers a short three-month window to sign up. There will not be another chance to enroll again until next November. Wyoming Insurance Commissioner Tom Hirsig says a wide range of Wyoming residents qualify for government aid to help pay for the health insurance.

“That’s kind of the range,” he says. “A single person making $12,000 to, say, a family of four making $100,000. So as you can well imagine that encompasses a vast majority of the population of Wyoming.”

Wyoming Medicaid Numbers Remain Steady

May 13, 2014

Earlier this month the U-S Department of Health and Human Services indicated that Wyoming’s Medicaid and the Children’s Insurance Program known as CHIP had lost four thousand participants. 

But the Wyoming Department of Health says both programs are very busy.  The Department’s Jan Stahl says Wyoming numbers go up and down throughout the year.                 

“Our numbers indicate that we had dropped down up until the end of December, but since that time our numbers have been climbing back up.”

Rebecca Huntington

With the deadline looming to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, healthcare-dot-gov navigators are seeing a surge in people seeking help. Wyoming Public Radio's Rebecca Huntington has more.

"Thanks for your patience, you'll have our undivided attention shortly. Your access to quality, affordable coverage is just a few minutes away."

Wyoming residents will get to choose from roughly 16 health insurance plans as the new federal health insurance marketplace opens up today.  While Wyoming premiums will be higher than the rest of the country,  Mike Fierberg of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid says that tax credits will help offset the cost.  He says credits will be available to low-income people, all the way up to salaries that are four-times the federal poverty level. 

Oklahoma Policy Institute

Starting October first, Wyomingites will be able to go online and shop for medical insurance coverage from the participating providers in the state’s insurance marketplace.

Under the healthcare marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act, Wyomingites will be able to choose from about 16 plans, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. The average premium for the cheapest, medium-coverage plan will be $489 per month. That’s the most expensive in the country.

okpolicy.org

To comply with the Affordable Care Act, Wyoming lawmakers still have to determine whether they want to provide more health insurance to people who cannot afford it, and what such a plan would look like. 
 

The legislature soundly defeated a proposal to expand the current Medicaid program, so the Wyoming Department of Health has pitched a new proposal where people could purchase a scaled-down version of Medicaid Insurance. 
 

Department Director Tom Forslund said that users would have to participate like consumers who have private insurance.

Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis says she supports efforts in the House of Representatives to de-fund the Affordable Care Act. 

Lummis says there are too many problems with the health care overhaul, starting with the individual mandate. That says everyone must purchase insurance or face a fine.  The idea is that with more people getting health insurance, health care costs will go down.  But Lummis met with a group of young male Wyoming workers who convinced her that the idea won’t work.

The Wyoming Insurance Commissioner says he has no idea how the federal health insurance marketplace, also known as an insurance exchange, will change the health insurance landscape in Wyoming. Tom Hirsig says he has no idea how many companies are considering offering insurance to state residents as part of the exchange.

“Probably companies are going to have to pick the states where they do the most business to start with, but in the future we are hoping that with time there will be more activity inside the exchange or marketplace.”

The State Senate has given initial approval to a bill that will allow out-of-state health insurance companies to offer policies in Wyoming.  The goal of the legislation is to encourage competition and possibly lower health insurance costs.

Wyoming consumers have limited health insurance choices and supporters hope the bill will fix this. However,  Senator Bill Landen of Casper says he is worried that the legislation could harm Wyoming insurers, by bringing in unwanted competition.