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Health Care Reform
NEED HELP APPLYING TO THE NEW HEALTH INSURANCE MARKETPLACE?
Free one-on-one help sessions for people interested in signing up for the new online Health Insurance Exchange are scheduled for every Wednesday, 2 to 6 p.m. at the Southwest Tech Center in the Piggy Wiggly Mall, 316 W. Spring in Dodgeville. It will be first come, first served. Or you can make an appointment for one-on-one assistance by calling AmeriCorps volunteer Lola Gregg at (608) 574-7986. In addition, Nancy Howard, a Certified Application Counselor (CAC), will be available for one-on-one assistance every Thursday, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Community Connections Free Clinic, 101 E. Fountain Street in Dodgeville (with overflow at the Dodgeville Public Library).
At the Wednesday evening sessions, trained “Helpful Neighbor” volunteers will be available to help you understand how you can fill out the application. Brian Lundell of Lundell Insurance, 107 N. Iowa Street, will be available to explain to you the wide range of health insurance options available to Iowa County residents. He will assist you in determining your expected cost which depends on your income, family size, level of coverage you choose and other considerations. Fortunately, significant tax credits will be available for many families to offset the cost of the premiums. Working with a local insurance agent may help you avoid selecting the wrong policy for your own financial situation.
People attending these help sessions will need to bring, for everyone they want to insure, their Social Security numbers, employment and income information (such as pay stubs, tax return or W-2 form), and any health insurance policy numbers they currently have. Click here to see a more detailed list of what to bring.
RESOURCES FOR APPLYING TO THE HEALTH INSURANCE MARKETPLACE
There are 4 ways to apply for insurance in the Health Insurance Marketplace:
- Apply in person. Visit a trained counselor at the help sessions described above and in this press release.
- Apply by phone. Call 1-800-318-2596 to apply for a health insurance plan and enroll over the phone. (TTY: 1-855-889-4325)
- Apply by mail. Complete a paper application and mail it in. Mail-in application forms can be found by clicking here or by picking one up locally at the help sessions mentioned above.
- Apply online. The federal website for enrollment (currently experiencing technical difficulties) is https://www.healthcare.gov/.
If you are wondering if you even qualify for the Health Care Marketplace or have general questions these are good alternative resources from the healthcare.gov site:
- The Kaiser Family Foundation Subsidy Calculator will estimate your potential costs and what part the government vs. you will pay. It will ask you for your state, zip code, household income (line 37 on your tax return - adjusted gross income which includes these items), if you have access to an employer coverage and have you describe your household members to be covered and if they use tobacco. Their Frequently Asked Questions are helpful too.
- These one-page flyers from the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families may also assist. The Top 10 Things you need to know about Wisconsin Health Care Insurance and a great chart that shows, based on where your income falls in relation to the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) what insurance you may qualify for (BaderCare, Health Care Marketplace or getting it on your own).
An excellent series of frequently asked questions about the health insurance Marketplace has been published in the New York Times:
- Answers to some Questions about Health Care Exchanges
- A Guide to the New Exchanges for Health Insurance
- Questions Often Asked About Health Law
The Dodgeville Public Library has put together an excellent list of resources about the online Marketplace, click here to go that site.
What is in the News
MICHAEL HILTZIK, Los Angeles Times
Deborah Cavallaro is a hard-working real estate agent in the Westchester suburb of Los Angeles who has been featured prominently on a round of news shows lately, talking about how badly Obamacare is going to cost her when her existing plan gets canceled and she has to find a replacement.
She says she's angry at President Obama for having promised that people who like their health plans could keep them, when hers is getting canceled for not meeting Obamacare's standards. "Please explain to me," she told Maria Bartiromo on CNBC Wednesday, "how my plan is a 'substandard' plan when ... I'd be paying more for the exchange plans than I am currently paying by a wide margin." Bartiromo didn't take her up on her request. So I will.
The bottom line is that Cavallaro's assertion that "there's nothing affordable about the Affordable Care Act," as she put it Tuesday on NBC Channel 4, is the product of her own misunderstandings, abetted by a passel of uninformed and incurious news reporters. I talked with Cavallaro, 60, after her CNBC appearance. Let's walk through what she told me.
Her current plan, from Anthem Blue Cross, is a catastrophic coverage plan for which she pays $293 a month as an individual policyholder. It requires her to pay a deductible of $5,000 a year and limits her out-of-pocket costs to $8,500 a year. Her plan also limits her to two doctor visits a year, for which she shoulders a copay of $40 each. After that, she pays the whole cost of subsequent visits.
This fits the very definition of a nonconforming plan under Obamacare. The deductible and out-of-pocket maximums are too high, the provisions for doctor visits too skimpy.
As for a replacement plan, she says she was quoted $478 a month by her insurance broker, but that's a lot more than she'll really be paying. Cavallaro told me she hasn't checked the website of Covered California, the state's health plan exchange, herself. I did so while we talked.
Here's what I found. I won't divulge her current income, which is personal, but this year it qualifies her for a hefty federal premium subsidy. At her age, she's eligible for a good "silver" plan for $333 a month after the subsidy -- $40 a month more than she's paying now. But the plan is much better than her current plan -- the deductible is $2,000, not $5,000. The maximum out-of-pocket expense is $6,350, not $8,500. Her co-pays would be $45 for a primary care visit and $65 for a specialty visit -- but all visits would be covered, not just two.
Is that better than her current plan? Yes, by a mile. Read more by clicking here.
OUR HEALTH CARE TASK FORCE
With the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Health Care Exchanges opening in Wisconsin on Oct. 1, 2013, the Grassroots task force is working hard to help local people who are eligible to sign up for these Exchanges. We are working in partnership with the Dodgeville Public Library, the Community Connections Free Clinic, Upland Hills Health, Iowa County Social Services Department, ADRC and other local organizations.
In addition, the Task Force is actively engaged in promoting Health Care Wellness in our local communities, in partnership with other community organizations. (More details to come.) We sponsor showings of the riveting films Escape Fire and Hungry for Change. We are working to bring together an all-community Health Care Coalition that addresses the issues of obesity and fitness.
The task force has also been considering the difficult decisions that patients and the medical establishment must make about end-of-life-care by promoting the showing of the film Consider the Conversation.
What is Next
Our Heath Care Task Force continually seeks reliable sources of information about new and proposed federal and state health care legislation. We communicate this information to our local communities through forums, press releases, etc. The task force is also deeply interested in researching and recommending modifications that would improve state and national legislation.
OUR CURRENT HEALTH CARE PROJECTS:
- Monitoring Walker administration proposals - With cost-cutting as its paramount goal, the Walker administration will soon be unveiling its vision for health care in our state. We can expect significant changes to the BadgerCare system and tense interplay with the Federal government over implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is essential that we monitor these developments closely and initiate public discussion when appropriate.
- Considering end-of-life care - Often neglected as a healthcare issue, palliative care and end-of-life planning are on the agenda for Grassroots Citizens of Wisconsin this year. Working in cooperation with the Bioethics Committee of Uplands Health in Dodgeville together with regional and statewide coalitions, we are developing plans to raise awareness of the medical, legal, ethical and spiritual dimensions of decision-making as life moves toward its close.
Who We Are
In 2006, Grassroots members concerned about the lack of universal health insurance coverage and escalating medical costs started a Health Care Reform Task Force to monitor the rapid-fire developments and to educate local people about what is going on in Washington D.C. and Madison. We work closely with the statewide Health Care Reform Coalition, headed by Citizens Action Wisconsin, and host local forums and discussions. Today over 100 people from throughout southwest Wisconsin are part of our Health Care Reform Initiative.
Core group members include Dr. Aaron Dunn and Dr. Cathy Kaiser of Mineral Point, Doug Huebner of Hollandale, Lola Gregg of Avoca, Linda Pittz and Earl Barnes of Dodgeville.
What We Have Done
Topics for our local forums, held in Spring Green, Dodgeville, Platteville and Darlington, have included:
- "Exploring health care models around the world"
- "A close-up look at the top national health care reform plans"
- "Defining the key issues in health care reform"
- "So why is health care reform so hard to achieve?"
- "Health care reform: A question and answer session"
- "Paying for health care"
- "National health care reform: What should it look like?"
We've run a Dodgeville Chronicle advertisement addressing the need for health care reform, which was signed and paid for by local citizens.
In partnership with the Dodgeville Chamber of Commerce, we co-sponsored a dialogue between Dr. Aaron Dunn and a representative of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce organization.
We continue to encourage our members to volunteer and financially support the Community Connections Free Clinic in Dodgeville.
To Join Our Health Care Reform Initiative contact:
2473 Mount Hope Road
Dodgeville, WI 53533
Telephone: (608) 623-2109