Arches Health Plan which runs across Utah - America, is imploring the uninsured population to buy health covers under The Affordable Care exchanges before the March 31st deadline.
Nearly 40,000 Utahns have health plans on www.HealthCare.Gov 86 percent of them availing a subsidy to help cover the costs. The online marketplace at healthcare.gov was designed in such a way that shoppers could to find out whether they qualified for subsidies, could receive them and apply them toward the cost of premiums.
AdvertisementAmericans who earned between 100 - 400% of the federal poverty level could qualify for subsidies. Thousands of people are still without health insurance and there are just 13 days until the March 31, the enrollment deadline. Those not insured would be paying a penalty if they remained uninsured after the deadline.
Arches consumer engagement vice president - Judi Hilman warned, "At the end of the day, everybody can choose the plan that is right for them," she said, "but you need to pick one and we're one of the choices." To bring awareness to the people of Utah -Insurance companies, brokers and federal navigators have sponsored freeway billboards, launched humorous social media campaigns, hosted informational "town hall" events on college campuses and underserved areas of the state and distributed fliers at sporting events.
Jason Stevenson a spokesman for TakeCareUtah.org felt, "Almost around the clock we have people coming into our office," he said. "Our navigators basically run out for lunch and run back, and just sit at their desks helping people with their questions." Even after the bad start he feels the 57,000 expected enrollments for Utah are achievable. Judi Hilman confirmed that 90% of the 14,000 enrolled customers had paid the first month's premiums.
Intermountain Healthcare's insurance arm, SelectHealth, the state's largest insurer, has reported having billed premiums for 18,000 people in Utah, under the exchange plans.
A national survey by McKinsey & Co. shows a majority of Americans who haven't enrolled haven't done so because they believe insurance would be too expensive. Yet 80 percent of those who cited affordability as a problem are eligible for subsidies.
"Many young people and those previously uninsured are finding out that, with a tax credit, health insurance is a reality," said Scott Schneider, vice president of sales at SelectHealth. "Many people simply did not feel they could afford health insurance until now."
Utah has the benefits of the cheapest plans in the country. Six major insurance companies are offering up to 96 plans. Every county has at least four insurers and 40 plans to choose from, according to TakeCareUtah.org.
But as with other parts of the country, many of Utah's exchange plans have narrow doctor networks, and insurance regulators advise consumers to shop smartly.
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
Kirsten Stewart, March 2014
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