The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

 
 

Hospital hosts health care workshop

 

Katie Perttunen/Daily Globe

MARK MARCZAK of Iron County Human Services talked to consumers about changes to Badgercare, Wisconsin's Medicaid Program, at a program at Aspirus Grand View Hospital Wednesday night to inform the public about the Affordable Care Act and the new Health Insurance Marketplace.

IRONWOOD TOWNSHIP - Aspirus Grandview Hospital hosted two workshops on the new Health Insurance Marketplace on Wednesday, with another to follow at noon on Nov. 15.

"We want to make sure the public knows what the hospital knows," Adrienne Chase, AGVH case manager said.

With all of the glitches at the healthcare.gov website, AGVH is recommending consumers to use paper applications, Chase said. The paper applications are being processed in Kentucky, with an expected turnaround time of two weeks.

Consumers may also visit the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation's subsidy calculator to get an estimate on their eligibility for subsidies through the HIM, Chase said, at kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/.

Open enrollment began Oct.1 and lasts until March 31, Chase said. The deadline may be extended.

Medicaid will expand in Michigan on April 1. Coverage will be available to families earning up to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, according to a fact sheet at michigan.gov. The federal government is funding the expansion, which will save Michigan $206 million in 2014.

As of Jan. 1, Badgercare, Wisconsin's Medicaid program, will drop adults in families with children who earn over 100 percent of the federal poverty level, although the children will retain coverage, Mark Marczak, Iron County Department of Human Services, said. Single adults at or under 100 percent of the FPL will be newly eligible. Previously, adults in families at up to 138% of the FPL were eligible for Badgercare.

The marketplace is intended to make healthcare "not free, but affordable," Sherri Dulong, Western U.P. Healthcare Access Coalition, said. Premiums will cost no more than 9.5 percent of gross income for individuals and families, Dulong said. Consumers will not have to purchase insurance through employers if their premiums are higher than that.

Fines for consumers who do not purchase insurance will be $95, or 1 percent of their gross income, whichever is higher, Alicia Cook, AGVH patient service specialist said.

When the website is up and running correctly, it will flag applications of consumers who are eligible for Medicaid, Cook said.

One reason the website is not running correctly is that the federal government expected the states to set up their own exchanges, and only 14 did, Chase said.

Two insurance companies have agreed to offer coverage for Upper Peninsula residents under the HIM, Dulong said, Consumer Mutual and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Two are available in Iron County as well, Marczak said.

Cook is a certified application counselor, and can assist consumers with HIM applications. Her office hosts a computer for consumer use to apply online. She may be reached at 932-7627.

Aspirus set up a phone line for people to use if they have questions or need assistance as well, 888-620-1555.

Consumers can also contact the marketplace at 800-318-2596, or contact a local insurance agency.