health insurance exchange

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Time is running out for Michiganders who still need to sign up for health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act. 

February 15th is the deadline to sign up or face a penalty.

The initial roll out of Obamacare was marked by numerous problems.  Computer glitches frustrated tens of thousands of Michiganders who tried to log on to the online marketplace. 

“If you want to make some kind of comparison, the glitches this year are almost non-existent,” says Dizzy Warren, with Enroll Michigan.

She says the second year of Obamacare has gone much smoother than the first.

Andrian Clark / Flickr

DETROIT - Federal health officials say about 300,000 Michigan residents have signed up for health care through the federal exchange, most with financial help.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell told reporters Tuesday that the 299,750 sign-ups as of Jan. 16 represent those who have selected a health plan or re-enrolled, not paid. Of those, 33% enrolled for the first time.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is Director of the University of Michigan's Center for Healthcare Research.
user mudowp / Twitter

Marianne Udow-Phillips, Director of the UM Center for Healthcare Research, is not making any more predictions. 

At least, not about health insurance coverage rates in Michigan.

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.    

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.

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.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The uninsured and others have time to sign up for private insurance under the federal health care law without facing a tax penalty.

But one Michigan insurance executive doubts much new enrollment will occur before the March 31 deadline and cautions that the net number of people buying their own insurance in Michigan could stay flat this year.

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. 

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.

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Michigan will pay less than average for health insurance

"The Obama administration says Michigan residents required to shop for health insurance starting next week will pay an average $306 a month - before tax credits - for a mid-range benchmark plan. That's below the national average of $328 and ranks 29th-lowest out of 47 states for which data was available," the Associated Press reports.

Wayne State University to offer in-state tutition for undocumented students

"Wayne State University will begin offering in-state tuition to undocumented students. The decision came as part of a policy change that ties tuition to students' high school diplomas, instead of their residency status," Michigan Radio reports.

Snyder not running yet, but his campaign ads are

"The first campaign ad in the race for Michigan governor will start airing today. Governor Rick Snyder is launching his ad campaign before he’s formally announced he’s a candidate," Rick Pluta reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The effort to train people to help Michiganders navigate the new federal health insurance law is gearing up.

Starting October 1st, Michiganders will be able to use an online marketplace to choose a health care plan under the Affordable Care Act. How many plans there will be and what the plans will offer is still unclear.

But several groups are preparing to help with the process.

Don Hazaert is the executive director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare. The group received a grant to help implement Obamacare in Michigan.

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”.

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.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This “week in review” Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss a state house subcommittee’s rejection to expand Medicaid, how Michigan will be run under a federal health exchange, how universities are going under scrutiny for negotiating new, long term contracts before Michigan’s right to work law goes into effect, and how a city pension attorney in Detroit and a former trustee were indicted for bribery.

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Michigan will have a federal health exchange to shop for coverage

"Michigan will be part of the federal government’s health insurance exchange, instead of being a partner in a joint effort. That’s because the state Senate began its spring break Thursday without meeting a deadline to vote on accepting federal funds for the project," Rick Pluta reports.

Health care providers could refuse to provide contraception for moral reasons

"Health care professionals and insurance companies could refuse to provide contraception, or other services if they find them morally objectionable under a bill adopted by a legislative committee. The measure makes exception for emergencies," Rick Pluta reports.

Detroit reps want feds to investigate EMs

"Two congressmen who represent Detroit are asking the federal government to investigate Michigan's emergency managers. Democratic Congressmen John Conyers and Gary Peters are asking the federal Government Accountability Office . . . to make sure any federal dollars under emergency manager control aren’t being wasted or misused. In a letter written to the accountability office, the congressmen say they’re concerned about the impact emergency managers could have on federally-funded programs and grants," Lindsey Smith reports.

You probably know the old story about the man who kept hitting himself in the head with a hammer. When asked why, he grinned happily and said, “because it feels so good when I stop.”

Well, the Michigan Legislature reminds me of that, with two big differences. We have begun to regard their nutty behavior as normal, and unlike the guy with the hammer, they show no signs of stopping.

Politically, Michigan is a moderate to liberal state. The state hasn’t voted Republican for president in 25 years. Republicans have lost every U.S. Senate election except one over the last 40 years.

We aren’t right-wing extremists. Except in the legislature, which is controlled by ideologues out of touch with the reality the rest of us live in. I’m not talking about conservatives. Good intelligent conservatives from Arthur Vandenberg to Gerald Ford have helped make this state great. I’m talking about people who substitute ideology for common sense.

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Governor Snyder to make an announcement on Detroit's financial emergency

"Governor Rick Snyder is expected to announce today that he agrees with a review team’s determination that Detroit is in a financial crisis with no plan to solve it. That would set the stage for the governor to name an emergency manager to run the city later in March. There’s no official word on what the governor plans to do, but he has said the condition of Detroit’s finances is unacceptable," Rick Pluta reports.

Health care exchange and Blue Cross Blue Shield bills move forward

Michigan is moving forward on the Affordable Care Act. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"In a 78-31 vote, 29 Republicans joined with 49 Democrats [Thursday] to accept $30.6 million in federal money to set up a Web-based health care exchange where Michigan residents can easily go and investigate, and ultimately buy, the health insurance mandated under the act. The House also overwhelmingly passed a pair of bills that transforms Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan from a tax-exempt nonprofit into a nonprofit mutual insurer."

Lawmakers consider ballot proposal to raise sales tax to fund Michigan roads

Lawmakers have come up with a new idea to fix Michigan's roads. As the Detroit News reports,

"Republican lawmakers could take the first step next week toward financing Gov. Rick Snyder's $1.2 billion road improvements by trying to place a 1-cent sales tax increase on the May ballot."

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A bill to set up a healthcare exchange in Michigan has passed its first hurdle in the state Legislature. A House panel today voted to accept more than $30 million from Washington to set up the exchange.

It would be a partnership between the state and the federal government under the Affordable Care Act.

House Appropriations Chair Joe Haveman says the alternative would be a federal exchange with no state control.

“Although it may appear like it was a step in the wrong direction or endorsing Obamacare, this was the conservative vote. The other vote was the liberal vote to say ‘we want the federal government to take us over.’”

Governor Rick Snyder wanted an exchange run entirely by the state. But lawmakers did not act in time, and that’s now off the table.

The bill now goes to the floor of the state House.

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Blue Cross Blue Shield overhaul reintroduced without abortion language

Lawmakers have reintroduced a proposed overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Lansing State Journal reports.

"This time it is without the "objectionable language" on abortion that led Gov. Rick Snyder to veto the first package that cleared the Legislature last month. Two Senate bills would convert Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan into a nonprofit mutual insurance company."

Michigan might ignore federal gun control laws

"Michigan may join a small group of states that say they plan to ignore some federal gun control laws. A bill before the state legislature would exempt any guns or ammunition made, sold and kept in Michigan from any new federal regulations," Steve Carmody reports.

Michigan gets $30 million grant to help shop for health coverage

"The federal government is giving Michigan a $30 million  grant to help set up its health care insurance exchange. The exchange is mandated under the Affordable Care Act. It'll help people research and buy health coverage," Rina Miller reports.

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