Monday, December 4, 2017

Hot News on Healthcare Coverage for 2018!

Are you enrolled for health care coverage in 2018? Open enrollment ends December 15th, so make sure to visit and know what your choices are. 

Have the recent changes to Federal health care policies & the Affordable Care Act got you worried or confused? You aren't alone. Many insurers and State legislations have been scrambling to adapt offerings for 2018, and it's been tough to know when to even start the enrollment and renewal process.

Below are a couple of links that include vital info about who will continue to get coverage, what types of coverage will be available, current rate info for 2018, Medicaid/Medicare news, what the Oregon legislation has been doing about health care in our state, and more:

As far as specific info about changes to Medicaid and the Childrens' Health Insurance Policy (CHIP), the waters are somewhat murkier. Because the U.S. Legislature did not come to any complete resolution about changes to the ACA/"Repeal & Replace", it's hard for anyone to predict what impacts this will eventually have on Medicaid and other low-income health coverage programs for states. The Kaiser Foundation published a broad overview of proposed changes, state by state, available here:

Under our new Govenor, Kate Brown, Oregon has pledged for health care coverage to remain accessible to all residents, and has worked to safeguard non-discrimination protections, and retain access to contraceptives for both males and females that can be covered under insurance. But as Oregon has seen a rapid expansion of Medicaid-insured households (450,000 since Medicaid expansions went into effect), before it had the infrastructure in place to verify each households' eligibility, it's entirely likely that some changes will happen as the backlog of paperwork from the past few years finally gets handled. This means that some folks who originally got to enjoy the benefits of OHP coverage may get dropped, or may have to start paying for portions of their health care.

Another "Oopsie!" issue (we're not even going to is that Oregon may have made a number of Medicaid fund overpayments to healthcare providers, due to a lack of sufficient oversight. How all of this is handled, and outcomes for the state, remains to be seen. We'll be facing a budget shortfall in 2018,

largely due to headaches from healthcare and insurance changes, but how bad is it going to get? And what cost-cutting measures will need to be implemented, to offset that potential shortfall? 

That said- Those who qualify for the Oregon Health Plan have a few advantages. You can enroll at any time of the year; you can access help to get enrolled through any DHS office or community care clinic; and those already on the plan in 2017 will see it renew in 2018 automatically, provided you have had no new changes to your income or other eligbility factors. (Currently, an individual needs to be at 138% of the Federal Poverty Level to qualify- or, less than $17,000 annual income per person/less than $33,000 per family.)

You DO have to make sure to renew & update your Medicaid coverage info at least once per year- so please keep your eye out for a Renewal Letter from the State of Oregon. You will need to fill this out and send it back in to guarantee your Medicaid coverage continues.
You can also access a renewal form online on the website, or call OHP at 1-800-699-9075 to check the status of your renewal/ask questions.

Overall, even though we will be faced with some challenges to health care coverage in Oregon, we are also seeing some optimistic trends in how the State is handling continued protection for its residents. And initiatives are under way to increase the ability for residents of all ages to access more community based care for preventative/wellness services, childrens' health,  addictions, mental/behavioral health, and more. Let's hope this attitude will stand us in good stead in 2018 and the years to come.