This morning the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Denver was held. According to ABC7News, “Denver's Race for the Cure is one of the largest in the nation. The 5K run/walk starts and finishes at Pepsi Center with an Awards/Survivors Tribute Ceremony. The monies raised from the race are part of the Denver affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation's efforts to raise awareness of breast cancer and money for breast health and breast cancer programs.”
Women and Obamacare
Even more exciting than the news about the impact Denver’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure will have on the fight against breast cancer is the news that with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare as it is sometimes called, is already having. Coverage of breast cancer genetic testing and mammography screenings is mandated by the ACA, which provides that these be given without a co-pay or deductible beginning with plan years starting after Aug. 1, 2012, according to the American Cancer Society.
Connect for Colorado
Connect for Colorado, a new health insurance marketplace, will launch on Oct. 1, according to Insuring our Future. Insuring Our Future is a broad and deep partnership of organizations who share a common belief in the value of health insurance in securing our state's overall health care landscape. Among these organizations are the Children’s Hospital Colorado, the Colorado Children’s Campaign, the Colorado Hospital Association, One Colorado, Colorado Rural Health Centers and the Colorado Health Foundation. Insuring our Future began its education efforts in 2012 to answer the question, “What does the expansion of Medicaid mean for our state? Communication was directed mainly at Colorado lawmakers. Today, its activities are striving to answer the broader question, “What does health insurance mean for our state?”
The brand-new Colorado-designed health insurance marketplace debuting this week, Connect for Colorado, is for individuals, families and small businesses to use to compare health plans and apply for health coverage. It is touted as a "new way to shop for health insurance." New federal financial incentives, or the “federal premium subsidy,” for those who qualify -- estimated at about 500,000 Coloradans -- will help make insurance more affordable. Approximately 243,000 Coloradans may be eligible for this new federal premium subsidy. About 48% of these are female. Of note, the new federal premium subsidy will only be available to you if you purchase your new health insurance coverage via Connect for Colorado.
The maximum annual household income for an individual to qualify for the new federal premium subsidy is $45,960 (or 400% of federal poverty level guidelines), and $89,400 for a family of four.
According to the Colorado Health Access Survey: “Colorado’s Health Insurance Marketplace: A Profile of Likely Consumers,” a report prepared for the Colorado Health Initiative for the Colorado Trust, in a Aug. 2013 issue brief titled, ”Getting Ready: The Health Insurance Marketplace and Federal Premium Subsidy,
“One of the primary goals of national health care reform is to increase the number of people with affordable health insurance.”
Connect for Colorado “is most likely to be used by the 829,000 Coloradans who did not have health insurance in 2011 – about one in every six residents.”
The first enrollment period for the Connect for Colorado marketplace will be from Oct. 1, 2013 and ending March 31, 2014. In the years ahead, the open enrollment period will run from October 15 through December 7 annually.
One piece of advice for people chomping at the bit to buy their health insurance policies through Connect for Colorado right on Oct. 1, when the exchange goes “live” at 8 a.m.: wait. It is a great idea to browse the exchange and use the Connect for Colorado insurance premium calculator, but there are bound to be some technological kinks in the system at the outset. It would be prudent to wait until closer to the beginning of 2014, but by Dec. 13 at the latest, to purchase your new health insurance coverage, if you would like your coverage to be effective on Jan. 1.
Another great resource of the Connect for Colorado marketplace is a toll-free call center number that is already operating. To reach the Connect for Colorado Call Center, dial 1-855-PLANS-4-YOU (1-855-752-6749).
What’s in it for women to sign up for health insurance?
Women utilize the health care system the most, according to the Center for American Progess.
Effective Jan.1, 2014, you will see the much-heralded and important access to preventive health care services with no co-pays for the patient including, but not limited to:
- Blood pressure screenings
- Cholesterol screenings
- Colorectal cancer screenings
- Depression screenings
- Obesity screenings and counseling
Women will also see access granted with no co-pays to the patient to essential women’s preventive health care services including:
- Well-woman visits
- Screening for gestational diabetes
- HPV testing
- STD and HIV counseling
- Contraceptive methods and counseling
- Breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling
- Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence
- Breast cancer genetic testing and mammography screenings
- Cervical cancer screenings
Sticker shock: myth or reality?
In a Aug. 19 article titled, “MythBusters: Rate Shock," Matt Valeta, Health Policy Analyst at the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, a nonpartisan membership organization founded about ten years ago, commented,
“The myth of rate shock continues to be just that…a myth.”
“On Friday, the Division of Insurance released the final rates for health insurance plans in 2014, and Coloradans will have a robust marketplace with strong competition that should combat increases in premiums going forward.”
“Before Obamacare, going the bare-bones routes on health insurance could still leave you very exposed to astronomical medical bills. Health insurance isn’t very helpful if you still go bankrupt is it? With new plans with better coverage, all Coloradans have access to better plans at a more affordable cost.”
What else should you know?
The ACA insurance reforms also include:
- No exclusion for pre-existing conditions
- Rating only on four factors (These are age, location, family size and tobacco usage.)
- The 80/20 rule (which means that 80 cents of every dollar of your health insurance premium must go directly to health care expenses, as opposed to, for example, marketing expenses.)
Says local licensed health insurance agent with InSphere Insurance Solutions, David Singer,
“I think the ACA will be a great opportunity for those that will be eligible for the subsidy and with pre-existing conditions.”
Said Calvin Ray Davis of Empire, Colorado, who is a manager of an independently owned gardening company, a part-time butler, a waiter at Echo Lake Lodge, and a mural artist, in a op-ed piece on July 17, 2013, in the Denver Post’s Idea Log for Opinions as part of its Colorado Voices series, in a piece titled, “It’s tough to battle breast cancer without proper health care,”
“I do find myself wondering, had she’d been a person with access to more treatment and health insurance if she could have fought a better battle, instead of being a divorced mother of two, living on welfare and food-stamps.”
“I’ve come to the conclusion that cancer doesn’t care what color, what gender, or how much money you have. If you can’t get the proper care, you’re never going to get past the disease.”
Bottom line: having health insurance will help all of us get proper care. So even if you are as tired as the rest of us in this country of listening to the bickering in Washington about Obamacare, and even if the number of new choices this fall seems overwhelming, it is important to get the information you need to move ahead and make certain you have the healthiest life you can.