A lot of questions keep cropping up about what impact the federal health insurance law will have on Nebraskans.
What type of questions?
“How is my coverage going to change? What’s different about it than before?”
Those are just a couple of the questions Andy Williams, Director of Consumer Marketing, says Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska is fielding.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the largest health insurer in the state.
Tom Gilsdorf, Director of Product Development with Blue Cross, says some Nebraskans will feel the effect more than others.
“The main impact is to individuals who have their coverage directly through the insurance company or the individual consumer market and small employers; those employers that cover under 50 employees,” Gilsdorf tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Congress approved the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The United States Supreme Court upheld the law in 2012.
Some provisions went into effect immediately. Insurance companies cannot deny someone coverage due to a pre-existing conditions. Children can remain on their parent’s insurance policy through the age of 26.
The rest of the law was to go into effect in 2014.
But, the mandate that businesses provide coverage to their full-time employees has been postponed. It goes into effect at the beginning of 2015.
Now, President Obama has announced he will give a one-year reprieve on the cancellation of health insurance policies that do not meet new regulations.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield has already sent out cancelation notices to 46,000 policies, covering 88,000 Nebraskans. The company says it is analyzing the impact of the President’s announcement to extend current health insurance policies and is working to make the best decision for our customers, and will inform them regarding their options.
The U.S. House has approved a measure that would permit health insurance companies to keep selling policies that don’t comply with the health insurance regulations. Thirty-nine Democrats joined with majority Republicans in approving the bill and sending it to the Senate.
The regulations embedded in the law will drive up costs, according to Blue Cross. Expanded benefits increase costs through higher premiums, deductibles and co-pays.
The law also regulates a company’s premium ratio. The law compresses the ratio. The highest rate a company charges for health insurance cannot be more than three times its lowest rate. A typical ratio now can rise to as much as seven to one.
Though the law’s regulations might drive up costs, it also provides tax credits to offset increases.
Williams says many consumers will qualify for tax credits under the law.
“The research we’ve done shows that about half of Nebraskans who are uninsured will qualify for some kind of tax credit,” Williams says.
The tax credits are generous, based on annual income and the size of a family.
Those making up to 400% of the federal poverty level qualify for some sort of tax credit. Tax credits are available to single persons making up to $46,000; a couple making up to $62,000; and a family of four making up to $94,000.
The website healthcare.gov discloses the tax credit for which a person or family qualifies.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska has published two guides to answer questions about the law and has more information on its website nebraskablue.com.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]