health insurance

Michigan Legislature
Michigan Municipal League

Democrats in the state Legislature want to require insurance companies to offer coverage for abortions.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a petition-initiated law last year banning abortion coverage in standard health insurance plans. Under that law, people can only buy coverage for abortions as a separate insurance plan, known as a “rider.”

Democrats say just seven of Michigan’s 42 health insurers offer those riders and none of them offers the plans to individuals buying insurance on their own.

healthcare.gov

 

Health insurers and Healthcare.gov are now gearing up for year two of the Affordable Care Act.

Open enrollment begins two months from today – November 15. And this year, there's a new twist: renewals and plan changes.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is the director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan. She says consumers have to do their homework to compare different health plans this year.

"Some [rates] are up, and some are down ... Even those who have coverage now, it would be very important for consumers to actually look at the choices again and see what is the best match with the premiums and the networks that are offered," says Udow-Phillips.

* Listen to our conversation with Marianne Udow-Phillips above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is launching a private health insurance marketplace September 1st.

Jason Russell is the senior director of the chamber’s Department of Insurance Services.

He says the intent of the new marketplace is to help small businesses and insurance agents deal with an increasingly complex health insurance landscape under the Affordable Care Act.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The cost of Obamacare health insurance plans will likely rise next year in Michigan. 

272,000 Michiganders signed up for health insurance using the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.   They will be paying more for those plans if proposed rate increases released this week are approved by state and federal regulators.

Josh Fangmeier is a health policy analyst with the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan.    

Farm in rural Michigan
user acrylicartist / MorgueFile.com

One of the most important aspects of the Affordable Care Act is consumer choice. More choice leads to more competition among insurers, and that can mean lower costs to consumers.

But, as Michiganders shopped for health coverage on the federal marketplace, the amount of choice was not even.

If you lived in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb Counties, you got to choose from 55 insurance plans. If you lived in Delta County in the Upper Peninsula, you were only offered 5 plans, all of them from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Josh Fangmeier is a health policy analyst with the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation. He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Today is the day.

If you don’t sign up for health-care coverage by midnight tonight, you might not be able to get coverage until next year. And if you choose not to get covered, you might get dinged on your 2014 taxes –also known as the "individual shared responsibility payment."

If you can afford health coverage, but you decide to do without, here's how much you might have to pay:

  • In 2014, it's 1% of your yearly income or $95 per person, whichever is higher.
  • In 2015, it’s 2% of your yearly income or $325 per person, whichever is higher.
  • In 2016 and later years, it’s 2.5% of your yearly income or $695 per person, whichever is higher. 
  • After 2016, the fee is adjusted for inflation.

To avoid any potential fees, you need to sign up by tonight.

There are exceptions.

user striatic / Flickr

We are closing in on the deadline to purchase health insurance or face a penalty under the Affordable Care Act. Erin Knott is the Michigan Director of Enroll America, a non-profit, non-partisan group trying to get people enrolled in health insurance.

Erin joined us today to discuss the upcoming deadline. 

Listen to the full interview above.

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It was late last year that state lawmakers passed The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act.

Starting this Friday, insurance companies will not be allowed to sell policies that include abortion coverage as a standard feature.

Customers would have to buy separate add-ons, riders, to cover abortion and they would have to do it before ever knowing whether they will want to obtain an abortion.

And how that might or might not happen is pretty confusing.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is with the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, and she joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Michigan’s law barring insurance companies from including abortion coverage in basic policies takes effect this week. 

7 insurance companies, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield, will offer an additional rider.

David Waymire is a spokesman for the Michigan Association of Health Plans.      He says most Michiganders get their insurance from self-insured company health plans which are not covered by the law.   

“So there’s really a small number of people that will ever be affected by this law at this point,” says Waymire.

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There is little question that the Affordable Care Act is a game-changer for Americans who had jobs where no insurance was available from their employer, or who had pre-existing conditions, or whose incomes did not qualify them for Medicaid, or who could not afford to buy health coverage.

But as the health care picture brightens for these Americans, there are others who are, frankly, sick of the ACA and the upheaval it has brought to their lives.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes took a look at what the ACA has meant for a typical small Michigan business.

Howes joined us today and we asked him to tell us about American Gear & Engineering. It’s the company he profiled in today's column of the Detroit News.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Opponents of Obamacare turned out for a meeting in Jackson today.  

Congressman Tim Walberg is holding a series of town hall meetings this week on the Affordable Care Act.

The Republican congressman is showcasing small business owners and patients who say they are paying more for health insurance under Obamacare.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Obama Administration says Michiganders are signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act at a faster pace than expected. But time is running out.

Michiganders have until the end of March to sign up for health insurance or face a federal tax penalty.

The Obama administration says through the end of January, about 112,000 Michiganders have picked insurance plans using the federal health care website.

http://whitmer.senatedems.com/

On the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade – the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide – women's reproductive rights remain in the political spotlight.

Let's turn our attention to that subject here in Michigan. It was mid-December when state lawmakers approved a controversial law requiring consumers to buy separate policies for abortion coverage.

This means a person has to buy a rider before knowing they need an abortion; they would not be able to buy a rider after getting pregnant. And the law does not include exceptions for rape or incest.

The law goes into effect in March, and there’s confusion over just how this is supposed to work.

Marianne Udow Phillips is director of The Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation at the University of Michigan. She talks to us today and explains what the new law means.

Listen to the full interview above.

Courtesy of Children First

It's been a little over two weeks since the Affordable Care Act officially kicked in.

How many people have been able to enroll? How many are getting financial assistance to help pay for their plan? And what deadlines do we need to be aware of?

Joining us once more is Don Hazaert, director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, one of Michigan's four navigator agencies for the ACA.

Listen to full interview above. 

Fotos GOVBA / Flickr

Cost comparison – it can be an effective way of saving money. Whether it's comparing the price of a cup of coffee – Starbucks versus Tim Horton's, for instance – or comparing gas prices in different parts of the city or state, checking out cost differences is, for many, just part of a regular day.

But what about comparing medical costs? Would you have any idea what, say, a hip replacement might cost at the hospital you go to?

If you could tease out those prices and compare them, you might find yourself wondering: Why do some hospitals in the same city or state charge thousands of dollars more for the same procedure? And why is it so tough to get those prices?

Those are the questions Ilene Wolff, a writer with DBusiness, explored in a recent story.

To compare prices of services at different hospitals, visit healthcarebluebook.comTo look up hospital quality information, visit hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

Wednesday's vote by the Legislature to enact a law to require people to buy separate health policies to cover abortions may not be the final word on the question.

There are meetings underway to organize a referendum challenge. Abortion rights advocates are putting together a coalition to launch a petition drive. They want to challenge the new law with a referendum on the ballot next November.

A computer screen showing HealthCare.gov in action.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More Michiganders are signing up for health insurance through the federal Affordable Care Act.

Problems with the federal website made it difficult for people to sign up initially.

In Michigan, fewer than 1400 people signed up in October. But after a website overhaul, more than five thousand Michiganders completed the process in November.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A proposal to prohibit basic health insurance plans from covering abortions goes before the Board of State Canvassers tomorrow.   Women would be able to buy separate abortion riders for their health insurance policies.

The Board is expected to certify that a petition drive has enough signatures to put the matter before the legislature.

Genevieve Marnon is with Right to Life of Michigan.   She says women should pay for abortion coverage themselves.

healthcare.gov / YouTube

It’s been more than a month since the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace has open, and to say the rollout has been problematic would be an understatement.

With the glitch-ridden healthcare.gov website, and the natural confusion that comes with breaking new ground, it’s no wonder that many insurance-seekers don’t even know where to begin to find health insurance under the ACA.

Enter Don Hazaert, the director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare. MCH is one of four navigator agencies in Michigan for Obamacare.

But what does a navigator do? What can’t they do? And where do Michiganders stand with their healthcare?

Hazaert met with us in the studio, to discuss how those looking for coverage for Michigan actually do it.

For more information, visit enrollmichigan.com or any of the websites below:

consumersforhealthcare.org

communitybridgesihc.com

accesscommunity.org

aihfs.org

Listen to the full interview above.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

1,300 Michiganders signed up for Obamacare in the first month of online exchange

"Health officials released a report yesterday showing that only about 1,300 Michigan residents managed to sign up for coverage through the troubled federally-run state health care exchange in its first month of operation," the Associated Press reports.

Michigan Supreme Court names Court of Claims judges

"The Michigan Supreme Court has moved quickly to name judges to serve on a revamped Court of Claims to hear major lawsuits filed against the state. A new law moves the Court of Claims from the Ingham County Circuit and makes it part of the Michigan Court of Appeals. The state Supreme Court tapped two judges originally appointed by a Republican governor and two appointed by a Democrat to serve on the new Court of Claims," Rick Pluta reports.

Senate approves bill for pot sales at pharmacies

"The state Senate has approved a bill that could clear the way for pharmacies to sell medical marijuana in Michigan. That’s if the federal government decides to regulate cannabis as a prescription drug," Jake Neher reports.

user mudowp / Twitter

Ever since the government unveiled its healthcare.gov website, the headlines surrounding the Affordable Care Act have been about the problems with the way the site was designed and the extreme difficulty Americans have had in getting on the exchange to shop for health insurance.

But, what about the Americans that don't need healthcare.gov? The ones who already have plans? Some 14 million consumers buy their own insurance individually.

And to those consumers, President Obama has been saying this since 2009:

“If you like your current insurance, you will keep your current insurance. No government takeover, nobody’s changing what you’ve got if you’re happy with it.”

So why, then, are some 2 million Americans - about 140,000 in Michigan - getting cancelation letters from their insurers?

Marianne Udow-Phillips directs the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, a non-profit partnership between the University of Michigan and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan. She joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Shutdown could cost Michigan $18 million a day

"Michigan’s budget chief says the federal shutdown could cost the state $18 million dollars a day in lost funding. Budget Director John Nixon says he does not expect that to happen unless the shutdown lasts more than two weeks. He says, after that, pre-funding for some big programs will run out," Rick Pluta reports.

Delays in Medicaid sign up

"The Michigan Department of Community Health is still working to start early enrollment to help people sign up for Michigan's expanded Medicaid program. Michigan's Medicaid expansion also still needs to be approved by the federal government. That means hundreds of thousands of low-wage Michiganders could have to wait weeks or months to enroll," Jake Neher reports

The state to take over Detroit's Belle Isle

"The state of Michigan has signed a deal to lease Detroit’s Belle Isle. Governor Snyder and emergency manager Kevyn Orr have both approved the 30-year plan. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will run Belle Isle as a state park, saving Detroit an estimated $4 million a year in maintenance costs," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Courtesy of Children First

Michigan's new healthcare exchange goes live next Tuesday (October 1), and the White House put out a sneek peak of sorts.

It’s a snapshot of prices Michiganders could pay for what are expected to be some of the most popular plans.

In terms of cost, Michigan is projected to be below the national average.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Four groups have been tapped by the federal government to help low income Michiganders navigate their way through the new federally mandated health insurance market.

The new health insurance marketplace is set to open on October 1st. About a million Michiganders without insurance will have to pick among a dozen or so health plans.

To help them, the federal government has picked four groups to serve as “navigators”.

user striatic / Flickr

Few things have been more politicized than the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

There’s a lot of misinformation and disinformation about the insurance program. We’re going to try to put politics aside and find out just what’s happening now and what will happen as it continues to be phased in.

Helen Levy is a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, the Institute for Social Research, and the Ford School of Public Policy. Thomas Buchmueller is a health economist and professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

They joined us today to talk about the insurance program.

“The goal is to reach as many as we can of the approximately 50 million people who have no health insurance. And so the way we’re trying to do that is by expanding access to individual health insurance coverage for people who could by their own coverage but don’t have an employer policy,” said Levy. “And we are also trying to target the uninsured and give them coverage by expanding the Medicaid program in some states.”

It is currently unknown as to whether or not Michigan will be one of those states.

user mudowp / Twitter

A new survey by the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation (CHRT) finds Medicaid recipients are the happiest with their health insurance. 

65% of people with Medicaid insurance rated it as very good or excellent - compared to  54% with Medicare insurance. 

51% of people with employer-based insurance rated it as very good or excellent. 

The lowest number was among the individually-insured group - those are people who buy their own insurance.  Only 43% said it was very good or excellent.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan's largest nurses union is in Lansing today lobbying for Medicaid expansion.

The issue has been locked in a political debate at the state capitol for months.

John Karebian is the executive director of the Michigan Nurses Association.    He says Medicaid expansion is being “held hostage” by Republicans still angry over the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Medical diagnostic equipment
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

  More than a dozen insurance companies want to be part of a health care exchange that provides coverage to Michiganders under the new federal health care law.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, McLaren, United Healthcare and ten other insurance companies have applied to be part of the new health care exchange.

Beginning in October, Michiganders will be able to use a federally run exchange to compare the health care plans.  It’s all part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," which takes effect in 2014.

It’s coming.

In just six months, the Affordable Care Act will be going into full-effect. While many changes are already in place, 2014’s the big year for the law — it’s the year when all citizens are required to get insured.

But what if you already have insurance? How will you know what subsidies you’re eligible for? And where do we find these subsidies?

Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration.

The Michigan Legislature is getting closer to approving a state spending plan.

On Wednesday, the state Senate passed a education funding bill. And after lawmakers come back from the Mackinac Policy Conference, a broader budget is slated to pass next week.

But so far, debate on proposed appropriations have been mostly divided on party lines.

One issue on the partisan divide: Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

The federal healthcare law called for broadening health insurance coverage to low-income adults — including some 400,000 in Michigan.

Out of 30 Republican governors, only six supported the expansion. Gov. Rick Snyder was one of them.

"Expansion will create more access to primary care providers, reduce the burden on hospitals and small businesses, and save precious tax dollars,” Snyder said in a press release in February. "This makes sense for the physical and fiscal health of Michigan."

But federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid has been left out of the Republican-supported budget, running counter to Snyder’s recommendation.

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