Three weeks remain for the health insurance marketplace to re-open for business and according to a poll conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation 9 out of 10 Americans are still unaware of the national and state based online insurance where people can choose options and buy coverage And more than half don't know that the 2010 Affordable Care Act offers financial subsidies to the uninsured to help them pay for insurance premiums.
"The No. 1 barrier to enrollment continues to be lack of knowledge about financial help being available," said Neil Deegan, the state-level director for Enroll America, in an email. Enroll America is a Washington, D.C.,-based nonprofit that helps Americans sign up for health care.
"Our research shows that while the remaining uninsured may be harder to reach, they aren't harder to convince once they know the facts. Many just don't know what's available or understand how affordable plans can be," he said.
It has been hard to reach the minorities like - and the uninsured living in rural counties - in Pennslyvania.
"To get them information about insurance enrollment, a lot of that is falling upon the local health care provider, the rural hospital," said Maggie Elehwany, government affairs and policy vice president for the National Rural Health Association.
Rural residents don't have access to high-speed Internet, which makes using the online marketplace difficult. "There's a lot of that rural pride," Ms. Elehwany said. And some, she said, just don't think they can afford the policies.
Pennsylvanians who have signed up for ACA-related policies 318,000 or so last year and early this year 68 percent are paying less than $100 a month for premiums, once subsidies are factored in. More than 80 percent of Pennsylvanians enrolled receive some kind of subsidy to pay for care.
"Exchange rates are not considered final and approved until the federal government has finalized and certified applications as qualified health plans," said Rosanne Placey, spokeswoman for the state Insurance Department. "So we do anticipate that the rate filings, which will include company names, should be available on or before Nov. 15. But [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] has not indicated to us exactly when that might be."
Penalties for non-enrollment will be increased this year and by 1015 if you are not covered you will have to pay 2% of your annual household income, the highest penalty a household can pay will be $ 975 this year.
The open enrollment period is from November 15th to February 15th where the federal government hopes to enroll 13 million people during this period. During the 2013-2014 sign-up periods, about 8 million people ultimately enrolled in a private plan; about 7.3 million remain in those plans, according to a September estimate from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Pennsylvania did not expand its Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act but plans to use subsidy dollars to pay for its Medicaid overhaul, called "Healthy PA," which will allow income-eligible Pennsylvanians to buy Medicaid-like plans using the state's "premium assistance" vouchers. Up to 600,000 Pennsylvanians could gain health coverage that way.
Bill Toland, Oct 2014
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)