A panel of experts discussed what’s next in the Healthcare Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at the monthly meeting of The Immokalee Inter-Agency Council (IIAC), October 8, 2014 at the Career Source One SW Florida.
Panelists included Liza McClenaghan, Social and Civic Activist in Southwest Florida and a Volunteer with Enroll America, who shared information on available resources; Adam Corcoran, Regional Marketing Lead from Blue Cross of Florida, who spoke on policy pricing and companies participating in the Marketplace this year; and Neftali Espinoza, Owner of Insurance E & S Services and volunteer with SCORE of Naples, who spoke on the Small Business enrollment process for ACA.
Enrollment and Navigators
Ms. McClenaghan shared a wealth of information starting with the enrollment period, which is from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015. This period is for both those who enrolled last year to re-enroll for the coming year, and for those who are new enrollees.
Assistance is available for consumers through Navigators, Certified Application Counselors (CACs), and government agencies noted in Resources below as well as State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) offices. In SW Florida the Health Planning Council of SWFL oversees the Health Insurance Marketplace Navigator Program (866) 547-2793, (239) 433-6707 (English/Spanish); and in Naples the Council can be reached at (239) 300-0959 (English/Creole).
In Immokalee Navigators are available through the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida, Maria Miranda, (239) 658-3000 Ext 4463; and through Redlands Christian Migrant Center (RCMA) at (239) 658-3600.
Mr. Corcoran, Blue Cross of Florida, identified Blue Cross as the only choice for Floridians in last year’s Marketplace, while this year United Health Care, and Time Insurance will also have plans available. Mr. Corcoran explained how the rating structure is impacted by first of all, the pool of those who are ensured, then by family size, smoking, age, geographic area and so on. And, yes, expect higher rates in the coming year. He also noted that those who do not qualify for a subsidy and cannot afford health insurance there are close to 20 free and affordable clinics across Collier County (see Free Clinics in Collier County below under More Resources).
And, last but not least, Mr. Espinoza spoke on the Federally-facilitated Small Business Health Option Program (FF-Shop) under the Affordable Care Act, which is being phased in this year.
To qualify for the Option Program a small business must have between 50 and one employee(s) on payroll; be located in an FF-SHOP area (areas determined by FF-SHOP and the State); offer coverage to all employees who work 30 hours or more.
SHOP advantages for small business owners include: opportunity to apply for tax credit; able to offer employees a choice in health and dental plans; determine a percentage to contribute to premiums; plus a range of online tools to assist in the selection process.
Once the employer selects a Qualified Health Plan (QHP) brokers will assist with the rest of the process from completing an employee roster to opening an account and setting premiums. The broker will also stick around to help the employees understand their choices and to enroll.
All in all it was an extremely informative Council meeting!
Next month’s meeting on November 12 will feature Susan Golden and Frank Nappo on Housing Challenges in Rural Communities. Join us!
Donna Hardy Johnston, Family Literacy Academy of Immokalee