400,000 reasons to give thanks

From the First Tuesday newsletter
Sign up for the newsletter and enews here

As we head into the month of November, there are more than 400,000 reasons to give thanks.

That’s how many previously uninsured or underinsured people in Michigan are now able to access healthcare thanks to the Healthy Michigan Plan.

The plan passed the Michigan Legislature last year with bipartisan support as part of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. About half the states have taken this step to improve the health of their citizens.

The League was part of a strong, diverse coalition that supported the expansion. Those efforts are now bearing an amazing amount of fruit.

In just six months, enrollment exceeded the first-year expectations.

Just how phenomenal this is in Michigan is evident in the League’s latest interactive map. On the map below, hover your mouse over a county. You will find an estimate of the uninsured and how many people signed up for the Healthy Michigan Plan in just the first six months. In all, more than 400,000 have enrolled.

In some counties, there are more enrolled than previously thought were uninsured! While some of these may have had limited insurance and were really underinsured, it’s a good benchmark to gauge the level of tremendous need.

Genesee County is particularly notable with a large number of its residents joining the plan.

The Affordable Care Act is indeed the gift that keeps on giving. Besides offering comprehensive healthcare coverage to thousands of low-income adults, many of them holding full-time jobs, the Affordable Care Act has offered many positive benefits, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

  • Nearly 273,000 in Michigan have signed up for insurance through the Marketplace. Enrollment begins again Nov. 15.
  • There are 94,000 young adults in Michigan benefiting from the provision that allows parents to keep their children on their plans until they turn 26 years old.
  • A requirement that health insurance companies spend 80 cents or more of premiums on healthcare or improvements to healthcare, or give the money back, resulted in $13.2 million in rebates to more than 184,000 in Michigan in 2013. The average refund was $118 per family. Since implementation in 2011, rebates to Michigan consumers have exceeded $45 million.
  • Most insurers can no longer deny coverage for a pre-existing condition, benefiting 4.4 million nonelderly in Michigan with some type of health condition.

With so many more in Michigan accessing preventive care, it means that good health is a goal within reach for those enrolling in the Healthy Michigan Plan.

The success of this program to date is indeed a reason to celebrate.

– Gilda Z. Jacobs

Healthcare coverage on the upswing

There is some good news out today in terms of health insurance.

The share of uninsured people in Michigan fell from 11.4% in 2012 to 11% in 2012, according to today’s Census Bureau release, with major additional improvements expected ahead due to the Affordable Care Act.

Still, more than 1 million in Michigan were without health insurance in 2013, according to the Census Bureau. That number is expected to decline dramatically as the Healthy Michigan Plan (Michigan’s Medicaid expansion), Marketplace enrollment and other provisions in the Affordable Care Act get counted in the numbers that will be released next fall. (more…)

Healthy Michigan plan enrollment tops 275,000

Enrollment in the Healthy Michigan Plan as of June 2 totals 276,622. This is truly remarkable considering the program was implemented just over two months ago on April 1. Genesee County, at 98.5%, has enrolled the highest percentage of those potentially eligible. What a great achievement.

The Healthy Michigan Plan is Michigan’s unique Medicaid expansion plan. It provides comprehensive healthcare coverage to Michigan’s low-income uninsured residents. To be eligible for the program, an individual must be between the ages of 19 and 64, not currently eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, a citizen or lawfully admitted to the U.S., and have income less than 133% of the federal poverty level (up to $15,521 for an individual or $31,721 for a family of four).

Application for the program can be made by phone (1-855-789-5610), online at www.michigan.gov/mibridges, or in person at a local Department of Human Services office. Applications made through the on-line system can have eligibility determined in a matter of minutes and sometimes even seconds. (more…)

MI exceeds healthcare enrollment target

Enrollment in healthcare plans under the Affordable Care Act is picking up steam, particularly in Michigan.

Nationwide, more than 4 million people have enrolled in healthcare coverage through a state-operated exchange or the federal Marketplace through Feb. 26. And in Michigan, more than 112,000 individuals have enrolled in a plan through Feb. 1, placing Michigan 12% above its federally set target for the period and one of only a handful of states to exceed its enrollment target. (more…)

Exhausted but inspired

I recently returned from Health Action 2014, Families USA’s annual conference, in my usual condition – exhausted yet inspired! It was a good year for Michigan: Dizzy Warren, of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, was awarded one of the three Advocate of the Year awards, and Michigan blogger Amy Lynn Smith won the painting created onsite by Regina Holliday!

The conference opened with a cancer survivor sharing her story of having her COBRA coverage end on Dec. 31, 2013 during her cancer treatment. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, she was able to sign up for coverage starting Jan. 1 and continue her treatments uninterrupted. (more…)

Healthy Michigan Plan moves forward

Great news to start the year! The federal government Monday approved Michigan’s request to expand Medicaid eligibility through a new program, the Healthy Michigan Plan.

This action brings Michigan one step closer to providing comprehensive coverage to Michigan’s low-income, uninsured residents.

It has been a long, tough road to get to this point. (more…)

Affordable Care Act works even if the website doesn’t

Amid all the reports of problems with the launch of healthcare.gov, the new federal health insurance Marketplace website – and there have been big problems – it is important to be reminded of the opportunity and security that the Affordable Care Act is providing.

A recently released report concludes: “In short, the Affordable Care Act is working even better than expected, producing more coverage for much less money.” (more…)

Marketplace coverage is affordable

We all need access to affordable, quality healthcare coverage so that we can make responsible healthcare decisions to take care of ourselves and our families. Access to unprecedented opportunities will become available when the problems that have plagued the opening of the Health Insurance Marketplace are resolved – and they will be resolved.

Affordable coverage is made possible by the advance premium tax credits available to those with incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level – $23,550 to $94,200 for a family of four, and the cost-sharing subsidies available to those who purchase a silver-level plan with incomes between 100% and 250% of the federal poverty level – $23,550 and $58,875 for a family of four. (more…)

Focusing on the bigger picture

With all the attention paid to the launch of the Health Insurance Marketplace on Oct. 1, it’s easy for other benefits of the Affordable Care Act to get lost in the shuffle.

My colleague, Senior Policy Analyst Jan Hudson, highlighted them in a viewpoint published Sunday in the Lansing State Journal.

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, will indeed help the uninsured. Many of them work hard for low wages and no benefits. Expanding Medicaid and offering subsidies based on income are clearly the right things to do. (more…)

Good news on health insurance costs

Michigan’s average cost for the gold, silver and bronze health insurance plans that will be sold in the Health Insurance Marketplace came in below the national average, according to a report released by the federal government today.

This is very good news for uninsured Michiganians, who will soon have the opportunity to shop for, compare, and enroll in quality healthcare coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace, set to open next Tuesday.

The report summarizes health plan choices and premiums expected to be available in the marketplaces for states that will have a fully federally run marketplace and for those that are partnering with the federal government. Michigan will have a federally operated marketplace and is expected to have an average of 43 plan options for purchasers to consider. (more…)

Next Page »