Arizona Obamacare Alternatives
Options and Alternatives to Exchange Plans in Arizona
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Miss open enrollment? Didn’t pay for your Obamacare plan? Lost your coverage? Not getting a subsidy? Obamacare Too Expensive?
YOU HAVE OPTIONS
Many people didn’t get or can’t get an Obamacare plan, for a variety of reasons, or they didn’t keep the plan they signed up for.
Does that describe you?
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We have over 40 years of combined insurance knowledge and can explain how the ACA works along with what your options and alternatives are.
Oregon Arizona Health Insurance License
Plenty of Arizonans interested in Obamacare, but none can enroll online. Many want alternatives.
ZERO ENROLLED: No one has been enrolled through Arizona’s online health exchange yet. But the call center is fielding thousands interested in Obamacare.
It’s not only the national Affordable Care Act insurance exchange that’s experiencing a host of problems. Arizona, despite setting up its own state exchange for Obamacare insurance, has yet to enroll anyone through its online website for health insurance.
The online exchange,healthcare.gov, launched Oct. 1. Arizonans can browse for health insurance, but they can’t enroll online. In the past week, the system has seen 100,000 visits to healthcare.gov and more than 100,000 calls, website spokeswoman Ariane Holm told Northwest Watchdog. Since the beginning of October, they’ve had 17,200 calls.
“October 1 was just a starting point,” she added. “We intend to enroll every Arizonan who applies by Dec. 15 and wishes to get health insurance through healthcare.gov, whether they apply online or through a paper application, so that they get the coverage they need starting Jan. 1, 2014.”
Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act (PPACA, often called just the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, or “Obamacare”), the government-maintained health insurance exchanges will open for business (that is, assuming the likely government shutdown doesn’t stop them temporarily). We here at SBM have written about the ACA quite a few times, but I would like to write about it in perhaps an entirely different context than you’re used to now that the biggest change mandated by the law is here. Just to see the contrast, I’ll mention that Jann Bellamy has written about the ACA in the context of how
The state of Arizona continues to struggle with problems on its “healthcare.gov” internet health exchange site, as the Governor of that state says 100 people will be hired to process paper applications because the web site’s enrollment capabilities still aren’t working.
Not only that, but a web page that looks to be from inside the healthcare.gov site – tweeted out by the health exchange on Friday – indicates that only one internet browser will work to submit data for a health insurance application in the Beaver State.
“This online application is built and tested for use with Internet Explorer. Using other browsers may cause the form to not work properly,” the web page states.
“The “submit” button does not work when used with the Macintosh Safari or Google Chrome browsers,” adding that Ipads and mobile devices also don’t work.
Also, the warnings on this page say that once you begin the application process, you only have three hours to complete it – over that, and your information is lost.
So far, the healthcare.gov web site has not been able to process any electronic applications for health insurance coverage.
Last Thursday, a who’s who of Families USA and hosted by the advocacy group for health care, The Herndon Alliance. The Alliance’s partners include AARP, AFL-CIO, SEIU, MoveOn and La Raza, among many others. Democratic John Anzalone, Celinda Lake and Stan Greenberg were the call’s main event, and they were there to deliver some bad news. Politico reports: “Democrats are acknowledging the failure of their predictions that the health care legislation would grow more popular after its passage, as its benefits became clear and rhetoric cooled. …
The presentation also concedes that the fiscal and economic arguments that were the White House’s first and most aggressive sales pitch have essentially failed.” Health care is not the only issue where the left is retreating in the face of strong disapproval from the American people.
Versionista, a Portland, Arizona-based company that tracks changes to the White House website, reported last week that the Obama administration had made “whole-cloth” changes to its “Energy & Environment” issues page. Out are any references to a cap on carbon emissions and a campaign pledge to spend $150 billion on clean energy technologies. In its place the new White House site includes a three-minute Earth Day-themed video from President Barack Obama. And across the country, leftist Senate candidates in Missouri, Kentucky and Indiana have all come out against President Obama’s impending trillion dollar tax hike, due in January.
As satisfying as it is to see Obamacare’s supporters come to terms with the failure of their grand plan, it is not enough for conservatives to just say “no.” Conservatives must have real plans for reform if the American people choose to empower them. The Heritage Foundation’s Solutions for America chapter on Getting Health Care Reform Right recommends: Repeal Obamacare: There is a precedent for repealing highly unpopular and misguided laws: the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988.
Recently, more than 70 percent of Missouri residents rejected a key provision of Obamacarethe requirement that individuals purchase a health insurance plan designed and approved by government bureaucrats. The House of Representatives even voted recently to repeal one provision of Obamacare that will impose draconian paperwork requirements on millions of small businesses. The easiest way to address all these grievances: repeal Obamacare. Promote Personal Control Through Tax Equity: Today, workers who purchase coverage through their employer receive an unlimited tax break on the value of their health care benefits. However, those who purchase coverage on their own receive no comparable tax break. Ideally, the current tax exclusion should be replaced (or at the very least capped) with a system of universal tax credits for taxpayers.
Medicaid and SCHIP spending should also be redirected to help low-income individuals and families purchase private health insurance Fix Current Government Health Programs: Medicare should be reformed into a defined-contribution system in which the government provides a contribution for benefits and seniors are able to apply their contribution to the health plan that suits them best.
Promote Federal-State Partnerships: A one-size-fits-all federal solution cannot accommodate the unique and diverse health care challenges facing the states. The federal government should promote interstate commerce in health insurance, extend certain protections for those who maintain continuous coverage, and provide states with technical assistance and relief from federal rules that inhibit innovation. Provide Portability: choose the health coverage that best suits their needs. To accomplish this, private health insurance must be portable that is, owned by Americans so they can take their package from job to job. There is no better symbol for the progressive intrusion into the daily lives of all Americans than Obamacare.
For thousands of Arizonans who already have health insurance, the new year will bring new insurance policies that cover more — and, in some cases, cost more.
And finding a cheaper alternative won’t be as easy as officials had hoped, as healthcare.gov, the state’s new online health insurance marketplace, still isn’t fully running.
Roughly 168,000 Arizonans buy their insurance individually, rather than getting coverage through an employer or government program. Of those, about 145,000 have plans that do not meet minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act, said Cheryl Martinis, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Division of Arizona’s Department of Consumer and Business Services.
The new health care law, sometimes called Obamacare, requires that all health insurance policies provide a certain level of coverage beginning Jan. 1. There are some exceptions, however. About 23,000 Arizonans have “grandfathered” insurance plans that don’t meet the minimum requirements but will continue anyway.
Insurance companies are not required to notify Arizonans with “grandfathered” plans, according to Martinis. But a representative from United — the company with the majority of these plans — said those customers will be notified by mail.
In recent weeks, thousands of Arizonans have received letters from their insurance companies informing them that their current plan will be replaced at the start of next year.
Those who do nothing will not face a gap in coverage. Instead, they’ll be automatically enrolled by their current insurance company in whichever new plan is most similar to the one they have now.
That plan could cost more money. In some cases, a lot more money.
Choosing a different plan or provider could be cheaper. And about 400,000 Arizonans will qualify for financial assistance to help afford health insurance.
The new health care law provides subsidies and tax credits for people who aren’t offered insurance by their employers and who make less than $45,960 for a single person or $94,200 for a family of four.
“I think our biggest concern is that people understand their options, see if they qualify for financial help and find the coverage that best fits their needs,” wrote Martinis, the insurance division spokeswoman, in an email.
That’s easier said than done, however.
This is where the complicated new health care law gets even more sticky. The way officials spoke about Obamacare, people believed they would have all of the necessary information available at the same time, so they could browse new plans while understanding how much financial help was available to them.
Instead, consumers have been notified that their old plans are ending — and, in many cases, informed that their replacement plan will cost a lot more — without being able to calculate available subsidies and easily compare new plans.
healthcare.gov, the state’s new health insurance exchange created as part of the Affordable Care Act, was supposed to provide an online hub for all of this information, a sort of Orbitz or Expedia for health insurance. Currently, visitors to the site can enter information such as their age, ZIP code and household income to compare available insurance plans and estimate whether they qualify for financial aid. But the site does not yet allow people to enroll directly in a new plan or sign up for subsidies. This matters because the exchange is not only important for its comparative shopping purposes. To take advantage of financial assistance, consumers have to enroll in their insurance plans through healthcare.gov.
The trouble is, the website isn’t fully working yet. When the health insurance marketplace launched on Oct. 1, officials warned consumers that the site wouldn’t be wholly functional until later in the month. Now November has arrived, and officials have stopped offering any timeline at all.
We have a clear plan to get the online system up and have already made great progress,” said Rocky King, executive director of healthcare.gov, in a prepared statement Thursday. “We want to reassure Arizonans that technological setbacks will have no impact on their ability to enroll in an insurance plan that meets their needs and budget.”
For Arizonans looking for a new plan to take effect Jan. 1, however, the Dec. 15 enrollment deadline is fast approaching.
In the meantime, healthcare.gov officials are urging consumers to fill out an application with a certified insurance agent or community partner, who can be found by visiting the healthcare.gov site.
Low-income Arizonans who receive an enrollment letter may choose the “Fast Track” enrollment for the Arizona Health Plan and Healthy Kids, the state’s version of Medicaid, and sign up for coverage without going through healthcare.gov. About 260,000 letters were mailed and more than 62,000 people have already signed up.
More than 17,000 people have submitted applications to healthcare.gov for insurance coverage. Until the website is fixed, those applications will be processed by hand.
“We do not anticipate having to process all the paper applications we have received by hand, but we are not going to rush out a site that doesn’t meet our standards,” wrote Michael Cox, a spokesman for healthcare.gov, in an email.
When the state was planning the Obamacare rollout, it made an exception for individuals with these plans so they wouldn’t be re-enrolled and then face a new enrollment period the following month.
Those individuals have until March 31 to choose a new plan or be automatically enrolled in a similar one. Strunk said these customers will receive notices in the mail beginning later this month.
With all of the national attention on Obamacare and upcoming changes to individual policies, insurance companies say they’re bracing for plenty of confusion. Echoing the advice of state officials, they urge people to turn to their insurance agent or insurance company — or healthcare.gov’s hotline — with questions.
Colleen Thompson, a spokeswoman for CIGNA, said about 21,500 of the company’s Arizona customers have been notified that their current plans will end with the calendar year.
“There’s a misconception that healthcare.gov is the only path to individual coverage, and we’re helping people who clearly won’t qualify for tax subsidies enroll now, either direct with us or through an insurance agent,” Thompson wrote in an email. “They don’t need to enroll through healthcare.gov.”
Arizona Obamacare Alternatives
Republican Alternatives To Obamacare
Nov 4, 2013
As the White House struggles with the rollout of Obamacare’s online health insurance marketplace, pressure has mounted within the Republican Party to begin offering conservative alternatives that address the nation’s health care crisis. Here are some of the plans the GOP is considering:
legal alternatives to enrolling in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
ObamaCare is scheduled to take full effect next year, but with the healthcare law saturated with problems, a health group is suggesting legal alternatives.
Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom notes that ObamaCare not only sends private patient information into a federal information hub, it also restricts doctors and takes more money from hard-working Americans. Twila Brase, co-founder of CCHF, says there are three ways to opt out of ObamaCare.You can end up paying private insurance outside of the government exchange
The Conservative Alternative to Obamacare
We’ve been very critical of Obamacare because it’s hurting Americans. But that has caused some to ask, “What’s your alternative?”
The truth is, we’ve always had alternatives, but our critics weren’t ready to listen. Now, the disastrous rollout of Obamacare has a lot of people asking for alternatives to government-run health care. And conservatives are ready.
With each passing day, it becomes clearer that Obamacare will not reduce premiums for average American families, bring down health care spending, or truly improve health care in this country. Instead, people are receiving notices from their insurance companies that their policies are being canceled or their premiums are skyrocketing.
At The Heritage Foundation, we are envisioning a health care system where you and your family come first.
What if you could choose and control your own health insurance? What if you could buy the insurance and health care services you want and need? What if your health insurance didn’t go away when you changed jobs?
The good news is, all of these things are possible. There can be life after Obamacare—and it doesn’t mean going back to the status quo that we had before. We can move ahead, taking the best health care system in the world and making it even better.
Our experts in the Center for Health Policy Studies have put together a new paper that explains how these conservative ideas work. It includes:
- How we will help people with pre-existing conditions
- How we will help you keep your health insurance when you change jobs
- How we can lower costs and improve health care quality—no matter what your income is
- How we can honor people’s faith and protect the right of conscience in health care
We are excited to share this set of commonsense solutions with you—not just because they are good public policy solutions, but because they bring hope. We have hope for life after Obamacare, and these policies would give you back control over your own health care.
Unions haven’t been able to get special Obamacare subsidies like Members of Congress and their staffs did, but they may not go away empty-handed. The Obama
- 1Obamacare moves American health care in the wrong direction. It undermines the doctor–patient relationship, centralizes health care decisions, and increases health care costs.
- 2Therefore, Obamacare should be stopped and fully repealed.
- 3Once this is accomplished, Congress and the states should pursue patient-centered, market-based reforms that get health care reform back on track.
- 4Such reforms should focus on letting individuals choose and control their own health insurance; allowing the free markets to respond to consumer demand; encouraging employers to provide portable health insurance to their workers; helping those in need through civil society, the free markets, and the states; and protecting the right of conscience and unborn children.
Obamacare’s glitch-riddled website doesn’t have to stop you from buying health insurance.
There are alternatives to HealthCare.gov, the federal website where consumers will perhaps someday be able to shop for insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature health-care reform law. HealthCare.gov has struggled to become fully functional since its launch two weeks ago, frustrating users who want to buy a plan that will be in place by Jan. 1.
There is still plenty of time for the Obama administration to get things right. Enrollment runs until March 31. Consumers have until Dec. 15 to choose coverage that takes effect on New Year’s Day. And buying insurance by Feb. 15 ensures you won’t pay tax penalties for running afoul of the law’s individual mandate that most U.S. residents get covered.
In the meantime, here are seven other ways people looking to buy insurance can get covered. Each has drawbacks, and none lives up to Obamacare’s promise of easy, one-stop shopping. These workarounds may be enough for some consumers, especially those who aren’t eligible for financial help. Applications for tax credits still have to go through the government’s glitchy system.
1. State-run exchanges: Depending on where you live, you won’t use HealthCare.gov at all. These states are running their own exchanges: California, Connecticut, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington state. Don’t be fooled by websites masquerading as insurance exchanges, though.
2. Paper applications and the telephone: The federal government created paper applications you can use to find out whether you qualify for government programs like Medicaid, or for tax credits that help cover the cost of private insurance premiums. You can download an application directly and mail it in. Hotline operators at (800) 318-2596 can help explain how to fill out the form and can even take applications over the phone.
Comparing insurance this way would be difficult, to say the least, but submitting an application for financial help at least can get the ball rolling. Tax credits are available to people who earn up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which amounts to about $46,000 for a single person. Medicaid is available to anyone earning up to 133 percent of poverty, or around $15,300 for a single person, in about half the states, which are expanding the program under Obamacare.
Republican Alternative to Obamacare Relies on Repeal
Despite passing legislation in the House on Friday to defund the Affordable Care Act, Republicans aren’t completely opposed to health care reform.
Some are saying the Obamacare repeal effort must be accompanied by a replacement proposal. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said last week he wouldn’t repeal “without viable replacements for many of the things that the Affordable Care Act chose to do.”
That’s why the Republican Study Committee in the House last week unveiled the American Health Care Reform Act, a plan designed to repeal Obamacare and replace it with “market-based solutions.”
It’s not the first ACA alternative the GOP has produced. In June, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga. introduced the Empowering Patients First Act. It would provide insurance-premium tax credits based on income, similar to the ACA, but wouldn’t outlaw discrimination against people with preexisting conditions. It has been referred to committee.
If the legislation sounds familiar, it’s because Price sponsored it in the last two Congresses. It did not make it out of committee in either session.
The House GOP’s latest plan is an omnibus package containing measures that failed to gain traction in the past. It has about 30 cosponsors. But a major stumbling block is that the bill is not drafted as a reform of the current law; it depends on a repeal that is going nowhere in the Senate.
“Obamacare is not fixable or reparable,” said Rep. John Fleming, R-La. who worked with the RSC on the bill. “It’s kind of like a skyscraper that was built on a terrible foundation. You would have to tear it down and start over.”
Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise, R-La., called the bill a 180-degree turn from Obamacare. It would offer standardized tax deductions across income levels, while the ACA provides tax credits on a sliding scale, depending on age and income. Under the GOP plan, everyone would be given the same income- or payroll-tax deduction: $7,500 for individuals and $20,000 for families. For low-income taxpayers, the deduction would be up to the amount of their income taxes or payroll taxes owed.
The GOP plan would use the current individual market but allow consumers to purchase insurance across state lines. It also would allow small businesses to pool together to lower their risk and reduce insurance costs.
The ACA creates a separate marketplace—the exchange—where individuals are able to shop around for the best deal on coverage. However, insurers can opt out of participating in the ACA exchanges and only choose to serve the private market, which in some states has resulted in less competition than intended.
The plans also differ in their treatment of low-income individuals and those with preexisting conditions. Under the Republican plan, individuals not currently on Medicaid or Medicare would be buying their insurance on the existing individual market. The GOP belief is that market competition would drive premium costs down so there are no protections in place for lower-income individuals. While the ACA offers states the chance to expand Medicaid and provides higher subsidies for lower-income individuals, under the GOP plan, those individuals would rely on their standardized tax deductions.
The Republican plan, like the ACA, provides some protections for people with preexisting conditions. But unlike the ACA, which sends these individuals to the exchange, the GOP plan reinstates the state high-risk pools and expands federal support to $25 billion over 10 years, while capping their premiums at 200 percent of the average premium in the state.
Republicans who worked on the bill said their proposed structural changes address what they see as the biggest problem in the American health care system: costs. Among the provisions are a cap to the total damages for medical liability for doctors and a repeal to the federal antitrust exemption for health insurers in an effort to break up monopolies and increase competition in the market.
To appease conservatives, the GOP bill eliminates tax increases, which in the ACA fund the subsidies that make coverage affordable for low-income Americans. According to Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., Scalise insisted that “you can’t have any mandates in this bill. You can’t raise taxes. You’ve got to reform the tax code, but there can’t be any subsidies involved.”
“That’s pretty limited in what we can do,” Roe added. “I think within those parameters, we came up with a pretty good bill.”
House Republicans file, promote an alternative to Obamacare
The Republican Study Committee on Wednesday unveiled a 181-page alternative to the massive federal health care law passed in 2010, touting their “market-focused” reforms as a viable way to fix the nation’s broken health care system without imposing mandates and taxes on Americans.
Seven House Republicans said they are ready to push the American Health Care Reform Act through committee and accept ideas from Democrats during the legislative process, noting they were shut out from debate over the Affordable Care Act.
The timing of the bill’s roll-out is conspicuous, since key aspects of the president’s law are set to take effect in less than two weeks, and Republican critics of the law are mounting a last-ditch effort to delay or defund the law as part of fiscal fights on Capitol Hill.
Among other reforms, the GOP-sponsored bill would allow consumers to shop for insurance across state lines, let individuals and families deduct health care costs for tax purposes the way employers do and inject billions of dollars into state high-risk pools so people with preexisting medical conditions can gain coverage.
Republican critics of President Obama’s health care law argue his overhaul requires younger, healthier people without employer-based insurance to subsidize sicker patients’ health care by joining the same risk pool on state-based insurance exchanges.
Republican sponsors said they’ve notified House leadership of their plans but have not secured any commitments for a quick vote on the bill.
They said the existing health care law puts many more Americans into the queue for health care services, but does nothing to reduce costs or improve access to care.
Their legislation would repeal, and not amend, Mr. Obama’s law because the country needs a “clean slate,”Mr. Scalise said.
Republican Rep. John Fleming, also of Louisiana, said Mr. Obama’s law is like a skyscraper built on a poor foundation.
“You can’t fix it,” he said. “You have to tear it down and start over again.”
Mr. Obama and Democrats, however, have signaled they will not negotiate over the president’s signature law in an upcoming spending showdown and negotiations over lifting the government’s debt limit.
They said the law is already reducing premiums in a number of states and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ plans, among other benefits.
In January, about half the states will leverage federal dollars from the law to expand Medicaid enrollment within their borders.