California Health Insurance Enrollments Rise, but Hispanics Still Lag

By IAN LOVETT

FEB. 19, 2014

Source Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/20/us/california-health-insurance-enrollments-rise-but-hispanics-still-lag.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

LOS ANGELES — With six weeks left in the open enrollment period for insurance under President Obama’s health care law, more than 828,000 Californians have signed up for private coverage through the state’s online health care exchange, state officials announced Wednesday.

Home to about 15 percent of the nation’s uninsured, California accounted for more than 20 percent of the 3.3 million people who enrolled in plans nationwide under the new law, the Affordable Care Act, during the first four months of open enrollment. About a quarter of the state’s enrollees have been young adults, ages 18 to 34, on par with national rates.

Still, enrollment has lagged among California’s Latinos, who make up more than half of the state’s uninsured population, according to estimates by the California Health Care Almanac. Covered California, the state-run online marketplace for health insurance, did not offer applications in Spanish until the end of December, and a Spanish-language site was dogged by translation errors — just one of a string of problems with the exchange’s website.

Through the end of January, only 21 percent of the people who had enrolled identified themselves as Latino, up slightly from 18 percent at the end of 2013, according to the data released Wednesday.

Latinos in California signed up at a slightly faster rate in January, but Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, said the exchange still needed to improve on Latinos’ enrollment. With six weeks left of open enrollment, Covered California has begun an aggressive campaign to beef up Latino enrollment.

“From absolutely Day 1, Latino enrollment has been probably the No. 1 priority of Covered California.” Mr. Lee said. “Have we executed perfectly? No. We’re getting better as we go, and we’re seeing results right now.”

The health care exchange plans to spend $8.2 million on Spanish-language media during the first three months of this year — more than twice what was spent from October through December. In addition, more than 4,000 Spanish-speaking enrollment counselors and insurance agents have been certified in the state.

“The key element is really promoting in-person enrollment,” Mr. Lee said, adding that the state now had “an extensive ground game in place,” referring to the enrollment counselors.

The exchange had also seen a modest uptick in sign-ups among young adults, whose enrollment is considered essential to keeping insurance premiums down because they are usually healthier and need fewer costly medical services. Mr. Lee also said he expected enrollment among young people to pick up as the March 31 deadline drew nearer.

“We are constantly doing focus groups, and a lot of guys and gals are saying they’re going to wait until the 31st to sign up,” he said. “Waiting until the last minute is certainly not preferred, but it’s not unusual.”

In addition to those who signed up for Covered California health plans, nearly 900,000 people had been deemed eligible for the state’s expandedMedicaid program, known as Medi-Cal.

More than 85 percent of enrollees in Covered California plans through January were eligible for subsidies, but Covered California did not have statistics on how many of the enrollees previously had no health coverage. About 80 percent of those who had signed up for coverage had paid their first month’s premium.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/20/us/california-health-insurance-enrollments-rise-but-hispanics-still-lag.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

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Language barriers could deter minorities from benefiting from healthcare reform

  • JESSICA KWONG/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • At a panel discussion, state Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, promoted Assembly Bill 1263.

With California at the forefront of the most comprehensive nationwide health care reform effort in half a century, it isn’t affordability but language barriers that providers and legislators fear will prevent minorities from taking advantage of greater access to coverage.

The Affordable Care Act, which begins open enrollment in October and becomes effective Jan. 1, will make health insurance more accessible and affordable to millions of Americans who now lack insurance. But in California, where nearly 16 million people, or 43 percent, speak a language other than English — it’s 45 percent in San Francisco — implementing the act presents a challenge.

At a panel discussion about this topic Wednesday, state Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, promoted Assembly Bill 1263, under which California would invest $200,000 to gain $270 million in federal funds authorized by the act to fund interpreter services for state Medicaid enrollees.

Interpreters are very often “our lifeline,” Ting said, noting that many immigrant families are accustomed to having their children translate when they receive medical treatment.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services does not recommend using children as interpreters, especially because they often lack medical vocabulary, said panelist Annis Arthur, deputy regional manager for the department’s Office for Civil Rights.

Legislation like AB 1263 would help break down language as the barrier to health care access, Ting said.

“We can’t expect our children to be there,” Ting said. “What kind of system will they be able to access? I don’t want to hyperbolize, but in these situations it’s a case of life or death.”

Members of the Asian and Latino community helped put a human face on this issue at Wednesday’s panel.

San Francisco resident Juan Situ shared how she waited hours for an interpreter to help her fill out forms for her sister’s hospitalization, only for the situation to get no better after her procedure.

“After the surgery, the interpreter was gone and we wanted to ask the doctor why my sister was in so much pain,” Situ said in Cantonese. “Finally, the doctor came to us but there was no interpreter, so we could not communicate.”

Although California and the U.S. have great language access laws, lapses exist, said forum panelist Cary Sanders, director of policy analysis at the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network.

“Part of it is they are not aware they have the right to request language access,” she said. “That is a huge issue. We heard a couple stories today but think of all the stories we are not hearing. The system fails and we don’t know about it.”

Minorities & The ACA: What The Affordable Care Act Means For Minorities

July 18, 2013 11:16 AM | Examiner.com

 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will affect the health care of every American in some form as it continues to be implemented. The law’s intended effects are particularly targeted on certain groups. For example, the ACA creates a new Office of Minority Health to address disease prevention, health promotion, risk reduction, healthier lifestyle choices, use of health care services and barriers to health care. Some of the largest minority groups in America include African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

 

The problem of health disparities

Before the ACA was passed, minorities tended to suffer from what is commonly called “health disparities,” which is simply one way of saying that minorities tended to suffer more from health issues than the majority population. For example, the 2010 Census Bureau report found that minorities tend to have lower infant mortality rates, and also have lower life expectancy than Whites.

More specifically, look at the following 2010 statistics from the Office of Minority Health for the 43.8 million African Americans (14 percent of the overall population) living in the United States:

  • 44 percent of African Americans in comparison to 62 percent of non-Hispanic Whites used employer-sponsored health insurance.
  • 28 percent of African Americans in comparison to 11 percent of non-Hispanic Whites relied on Medicaid, public health insurance.
  • 20.8 percent of African Americans in comparison to 11.7 percent of non-Hispanic Whites were uninsured.
  • In 2009, the death rate for African Americans was higher than Whites for heart diseases, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and homicide.

The statistics are also glaring for the 52 million Hispanics (approximately 16.7 percent of the population) who live in the United States:

  • Hispanics have the lowest insured rates of any racial or ethnic group; just 39.6 percent of Mexicans are insured, 51.6 percent of Puerto Ricans, 51.6 percent of Cubans and 46.4 percent of other Hispanic and Latino groups.
  •  In 2010, 30.7 percent of the Hispanic population was not covered by health insurance, as compared to 11.7 percent of the non-Hispanic White population.
  •  Hispanics have higher rates of obesity than non-Hispanic Whites.
  • The rate of low birth weight infants is lower for the total Hispanic population in comparison to non-Hispanic Whites.
  •  Puerto Ricans have a low birth weight rate that is 60 percent higher than the rate for non-Hispanic Whites.
  • Also Puerto Ricans also suffer disproportionately from asthma, HIV/AIDS and infant mortality.
  • Mexican-Americans suffer disproportionately from diabetes.

According to the Office of Minority Health, these health disparities are caused by a number of factors, with economics being one of the leading factors. For example, 26.6 percent of Hispanics, in comparison to 14.9 percent of non-Hispanic Whites, work within service occupations, and those occupations tend to not provide health benefits. The unemployment rate for African Americans was twice as high as the unemployment rate for Non-Hispanic Whites, according to the 2010 Census Bureau report.

The ACA attempts to address these health disparities in a number of ways.

 

Research

Before the problem can appropriately be solved it must first be fully understood. To that end, Congress funded the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities with $831 million for scientific research on how to improve minority health and eliminate health disparities.

 

Expansion of Medicaid

Since many minority groups tend to suffer from higher levels of poverty, they also tend to rely more on programs such as Medicaid. Medicaid covers nearly 40 percent of African-American and Latino children. The ACA expands coverage in 2014 up to 133 percent above the poverty level. Nearly half of the current group of uninsured people would qualify for Medicaid under this new criteria.

 

Community health centers

The ACA provides $11 billion in funding to double the number of patients that are provided primary and preventative services by community health centers. In 2009, 34 percent of health center patients were Hispanic or Latino and 28 percent were African American.

 

Employer mandate

In addition, the ACA will attempt to expand employer-provided health insurance coverage to many minorities who work in lower-paying jobs. Under the law, employers with more than 50 employees will have to pay a fine if any of their employees receive a premium credit for purchasing their own insurance because they were not offered insurance from their employer.

 

Summary

Minorities have historically suffered from worst health outcomes in the United States due to a number of factors. The ACA attempts to expand health insurance coverage for minorities and improve overall health through research, public programs and mandated private insurance.

 

[1] http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=1&lvlID=7
[2] http://www.ncsl.org/documents/health/HDandACA.pdf
[3] http://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/8016-02.pdf

 

Ryan Witt is a freelance writer covering all things St. Louis Cardinals. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

 

Article Link: http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2013/07/18/minorities-the-aca/

 

Americana Center World Festival celebrates cultures with music, food and wares

Written by
Photos and story
by Maggie Huber

Read More: http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013306010081

Iroquois Amphitheater played host Saturday to the 23rd annual Americana Center World Festival, Where Louisville Meets the World. Hundreds sampled the festival’s music, food and wares.

With musical acts playing and dancers performing on two stages every half hour, there was plenty to stimulate the ears and eyes. For example, Mamta Subba, 18, performed a traditional Nepalese dance with her friends.

“It’s a rare opportunity to see different kinds of musicians in town,” said Alexander Udis, 28, the community garden coordinator at the Americana Center. “The festival started as a block party for the center and has grown to be the big event of the year when we not only get to advertise what we do at the center, but give a spotlight to all the nationalities that live in Louisville.”

For others, such as Lauren Humpert, “the highlight of this festival is the food,” she said as she waited for someone to cover her Fiberworks booth so she could indulge in food from one of the more than six food vendors.

Odette Nyirahuku agreed as she made beignets for her “Mama Boling” booth. Nyirahuku learned to cook the dishes at the Americana Center as part of a class. “Everybody needs our food,” she said.

Americana Community Center provides a spectrum of services based on the Louisville area’s cultural, ethnic and economic diversity.

Americana World Festival: Americana World Festival | Scenes and interviews (Video by ANGELA SHOEMAKER/Special to the Courier-Journal

Olivetta Uradu, 20, left, and Kade Tambo, 22, right, watch as a band performs on the Hilltop stage at the 23rd annual Americana World Festival at the Iroquois Amphitheater. June 01, 2013

Joyce Augustine, 10, participates in a hula hoop contest for kids during the 23rd annual Americana World Festival at the Iroquois Amphitheater. June 01, 2013

Joyce Augustine, 10, participates in a hula hoop contest for kids during the 23rd annual Americana World Festival at the Iroquois Amphitheater. June 01, 2013

Who benefits in Louisville? Impact of the Medicaid decision

Written by
Laura Ungar

Bernice Glenn, 55, Shively

Bernice Glenn, shown with her husband, Nelson Glenn Jr., says of Medicaid expansion, ‘I won’t have to worry about how I have to pay’ her bills for medical treatment. / Photos by Kylene White/The Courier-Journal

Family: Husband, Nelson Glenn Jr., 58; three grown children.

Job, income, insurance: Bernice Glenn is unemployed, and her husband has been out of work since being injured in an accident more than a decade ago. He supports the couple with his Social Security disability payments of $1,623 a month. Bernice is uninsured.

Health issues: High blood pressure, diabetes, a nerve condition in her face, arthritis and a bad knee. She uses a cane.

Consequences of being uninsured: Although she sees a primary care doctor at Family Health Centers, she skips some preventive care. For example, she hasn’t gotten a colonoscopy to check for colon cancer, which is recommended for people when they turn 50. She also has medical bills she can’t pay.

Thoughts on expansion: “I won’t have to worry about how I have to pay these bills and how they’re going to come after me about these bills.”

Rosemary Elan, 56, South Louisville

Family: Widow.

Job, income, insurance: Elan does seasonal work for H&R Block, helping people with their taxes, but has no other income and no health insurance. She lives with her 26-year-old daughter, who works at a convenience store, earning $7.35 an hour, and also has no health insurance.

Health issues: Diabetes, high blood pressure, five cardiac stents.

Consequences of being uninsured: She has delayed getting needed care. When her heart bothered her in 2011, “I would just rub it to keep it from acting up.” She eventually needed a fifth stent and incurred $21,000 in medical bills. She said she has no way to pay: “You can’t get blood from a stone.”

Thoughts on expansion: She said she doesn’t like the health care overhaul in general, especially the penalty people would have to pay if they choose not to get health insurance. But she supports Medicaid expansion. “It would help a whole lot,” she said. “It would be a lot less strain on a lot of people.”

Job, income, insurance: She is unemployed because of illness, existing on Supplemental Security Income disability benefits for her children of about $2,000 a month. Her children have Medicaid, but she has no health insurance. She said she’s tried to buy an individual insurance policy but has been turned down because of her health.

Health issues: Jones has severe high blood pressure and a severe form of anemia, both of which have repeatedly put her in the hospital.

Consequences of being uninsured: She has medical bills exceeding $200,000 for hospital stays to treat her blood problems. She gets low-cost primary care at Family Health Centers-Portland, but stopped going to the James Graham Brown Cancer Center when she realized she couldn’t pay the bills. “After a while you get tired of it and throw your hands up,” she said.

Thoughts on expansion: “There’s a lot of people who want to go to work and just can’t because they have conditions like mine. I just think it’ll be better for people who can’t afford (care), and people who actually need it.”

Angela Kildoo, 28, western Louisville

Family: Single with three children, who are in her parents’ custody. She stays at a friend’s house.

Job, income, insurance: A former medical assistant and a temporary warehouse worker who is unemployed, with no income or health insurance.

Health issues: Thyroid problems; high blood pressure; pseudotumor cerebri, which occurs when pressure inside the skull builds up for no obvious reason.

Consequences of being uninsured: Unpaid medical bills, including a $2,000 bill for surgical removal of two teeth and other bills from blood work. She gets low-cost care at Family Health Centers-Portland, but sometimes skips care because of the cost. “I may just stay at home and just suffer with the pain and everything,” she said.

Thoughts on expansion: “I think it would help a lot of people.”

Link to article:  http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013305090048

Gov. Beshear Expands Health Coverage to over 300,000 Kentuckians

Thursday, 05 09, 2013

Kerri Richardson
Terry Sebastian
502-564-2611

 

Decision means every Kentuckian will have opportunity to obtain affordable health insurance;
Expansion will create nearly 17,000 jobs and $15.6 billion in economic impact

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Calling it “the single-most important decision in our lifetime for improving the health of Kentuckians,” Gov. Steve Beshear today announced the inclusion of 308,000 more Kentuckians in the federal Medicaid health insurance program. The expansion, together with the creation of the Health Benefit Exchange, will ensure that every Kentuckian will have access to affordable health insurance.

The expansion – made in accordance with the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) – will help hundreds of thousands of Kentucky families, dramatically improve the state’s health, create nearly 17,000 new jobs and have a $15.6 billion positive economic impact on the state between its beginning in Fiscal Year 2014 and full implementation in Fiscal Year 2021, he said.

“I have repeatedly said that I believe it is in the best interest of the Commonwealth and its citizens to provide better access to health care for our people. My only concern was the cost,” said Gov. Beshear. “We have now done the exhaustive research – and our conclusion matched what most other states have found: by expanding Medicaid, Kentucky will come out ahead in terms of both health outcomes and finances. In fact, if we don’t expand Medicaid, we will lose money.”

Several months of internal analysis – as well as outside studies conducted by the University of Louisville and the Price Waterhouse Coopers accounting and actuarial firm – determined that the expansion was a good deal for those families and for taxpayers. The reviews gathered information about possible impacts to citizen health, the state budget, workforce and economic development.

Medicaid currently provides health care for low-income or disabled citizens. After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ACA last year, states have the option to expand Medicaid eligibility to individuals who earn up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), with the guarantee that the federal government will cover the entire cost for the first three years.

The expansion will be effective January 1, 2014. By expanding, every Kentucky citizen will have access to affordable health care, either through Medicaid or through the Health Benefits Exchange – no one will fall into a coverage gap.

The Governor cited several key reasons for expanding the program, including:

  • drastic improvements to Kentucky’s abysmal health rankings;
  • millions in savings to the state budget and Kentucky taxpayers;
  • billions in economic impact to the state, including nearly 17,000 new jobs;
  • preventing costly penalties to businesses and protecting hospital funding; and
  • broad support from health care advocates, county officials, and medical providers.

Access to Health Care Improves Kentuckians’ Health

About 640,000 Kentuckians are uninsured. By expanding Medicaid eligibility, an estimated 308,000 Kentuckians will qualify for health care coverage –– a population greater than the size of Lexington and Fayette County.

Gov. Beshear pointed to Kentucky’s dismal rankings in multiple health outcomes as one of the reasons to give lower-income Kentucky families access to reliable, quality health care. In 2012, Kentucky’s overall health ranking was 44th. Kentucky is at the bottom of many national health rankings, including 50th in smoking, 40th in obesity, 41st in diabetes, 50th in cancer deaths, 49th in heart disease, 43rd in high cholesterol, 44th in annual dental visits and 48th in heart attacks.

“I, for one, am tired of being at the bottom,” Gov. Beshear said. “Giving every Kentuckian access to affordable health care coverage will help us tackle these abysmal health outcomes. Our poor health has contributed to us being a poor state. Improved health will help improve our education levels and job opportunities.”

Multiple state and national reports show that when someone has or gains health coverage, there are measurable improvements in health status, including a decrease in delayed care and reduction of mortality rate. When larger groups gain health coverage, the workforce improves.

Conversely, if Kentucky chose not to expand eligibility, the state would create a coverage gap for hundreds of thousands of citizens. The Supreme Court ruling on ACA making expansion optional created a coverage gap for those who are not eligible for a state’s existing Medicaid program, but whose income is too low to qualify for premium subsidies through the Health Benefit Exchange. In Kentucky, up to 206,000 citizens would fall into this gap – not eligible for Medicaid benefits, but also unable to get subsidized coverage through the exchange.

“When people don’t have insurance, they skip regular checkups. They go without medicine. They delay examinations for early symptoms. When they do end up in an emergency room, their health problems can be much more advanced, and more difficult and expensive to treat,” said Audrey Tayse Haynes, Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. “Expanding Medicaid offers hardworking Kentuckians the security of reliable medical care to keep them on the job and catch serious health threats before they become debilitating or fatal.”

Expanding Health Care Saves Kentucky Taxpayers Millions

The administration’s review of health care expansion included heavy emphasis on both its immediate and long-term financial impact for the state. The following issues emerged: 1) the costs the state will incur from other mandates of ACA; 2) savings the state will realize through shifting current state budget burdens to the federal government; and 3) generation of new state and local revenues.

Regardless of whether or not Kentucky expanded Medicaid, the federal law adds costs to state Medicaid programs, including substance abuse treatment coverage for existing Medicaid recipients, additional administrative costs and a loss of federal Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments that pay for indigent care.

Adding newly eligible citizens to Medicaid rolls creates an increase in tax receipts and state revenue, and allows the state to move some current state spending to federal spending. Those revenue-generating and cost-shifting steps add up.

However, with the other requirements of the ACA, upon full implementation of the federal law, it would cost the state more if we did not expand Medicaid. Without expansion, analysts estimate Kentucky would see a negative state budget impact of nearly $40 million by full implementation in FY21.

“When we examined expansion purely from a financial standpoint, there was no question that expanding offered much more benefit for our budget,” said state budget director Jane Driskell. “With the federal government covering the full cost of expansion for the first three years, combined with the ability to shift some of our current cost burden to the federal government, expansion will be a very large net positive to our taxpayers’ bottom line – an estimated $802.4 million.”

The federal government will fund 100 percent of the expansion costs for three years starting in 2014, and then will gradually decrease funding to 90 percent in 2020. Additionally, states can change their expansion plan at any time; if circumstances change and expansion is no longer a benefit to Kentucky, the state can pull back the expansion.

Expansion Generates Millions in Recurring Revenue; Creates Nearly 17,000 Jobs

Expanding Medicaid coverage to families at or below 138 percent of the poverty line will have an economic impact of $15.6 billion between FY14 and FY21, the first year of full implementation. Those funds will come from an increase in health care spending, increases in state and local tax receipts, and savings created by moving certain expenditures from the state to the federal government.

The increase in jobs will occur quickly. Kentucky is expected to create about 7,600 new jobs in the first year of Medicaid expansion alone, due largely to the additional $608 million in health care spending generated as a result of expansion. By 2021, expansion is estimated to be responsible for the employment of nearly 17,000 Kentuckians annually, with an annual average salary of more than $43,000.

Expansion Saves Money for Businesses, Maintains Funds for Hospitals

Expanding Medicaid avoids costly penalties for businesses with employees that would have met the 138 percent FPL threshold for Medicaid coverage. Expansion also provides reliable reimbursement for hospitals after the required reduction of DSH payments.

If Medicaid is expanded, companies whose employees qualify for coverage through Medicaid and are between 100 and 138 percent of FPL, face no penalties. However, if Medicaid is not expanded, those employers would be responsible for $3,000 in fines for every employee who instead receives a premium subsidy to purchase insurance elsewhere. These penalties would cost Kentucky employers an estimated $32 million to $48 million every year.

Hospitals use federal DSH payments to help cover the cost of treating low-income, uninsured patients. Because the Affordable Care Act assumed all low-income individuals would have access to coverage either through Medicaid expansion or a Health Benefit Exchange, the law reduces federal DSH payments to the states. For Kentucky, the reduction is an estimated $287.5 million through FY21. If a state expands Medicaid, many of the previously uninsured will be Medicaid-eligible and hospitals will receive reimbursement for their care. Without expansion and with the reductions in DSH payments, hospitals would be forced to find alternative ways to address the sudden drop in their budgets.

Broad Spectrum of Support for Expansion

Dozens of health care organizations, advocacy groups, county and local officials and private citizens have expressed their strong preference for Kentucky to expand Medicaid. These groups also see the financial and health benefits of providing access to health care to every Kentuckian. A list of those groups is attached.

“Expanding Medicaid is a major policy decision with significant long-term economic and health consequences,” said Susan Zepeda, president and CEO of Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “Our Kentucky Health Issues Poll shows that a vast majority of Kentuckians – more than 80 percent — favor providing access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans. We applaud the Governor’s decision.”

“Uninsured individuals often utilize emergency rooms for conditions which could be more appropriately and inexpensively treated by a primary care provider,” said Dr. Michael Karpf, executive vice president for health affairs at the University of Kentucky. “Expanding Medicaid coverage will create opportunities to improve access to care and improve the ability of organizations such as UK HealthCare to more effectively manage both acute and chronic conditions for our most vulnerable patient populations.”

“The Governor’s decision to expand Medicaid coverage to uninsured Kentuckians is significant for county governments. Fiscal courts pay a tremendous amount for the medical coverage of jail inmates. This coverage for catastrophic medical needs of inmates will greatly reduce jail medical costs for counties,” said Vince Lange, executive director of the Kentucky County Judge/Executive Association.

“Today, the Governor of Kentucky is making a decision that will provide the largest benefit to low-income Kentuckians in over 40 years,” said Natalie Harris, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless. “The Coalition for the Homeless strongly supports this decision which will insure health care for over 95 percent of homeless Kentuckians from the present coverage rate of 15 percent.”

The ‘Arkansas Option’ is More Expensive, Costs Outpace Benefits

Arkansas plans to provide health insurance to individuals at 138 percent of FPL or below, but instead of enrolling them in Medicaid, Arkansas plans to purchase private insurance through their Health Benefits Exchange (HBE). While HBE rates are not yet available, preliminary information from the Congressional Budget Office and Massachusetts indicates that this option could be 50 percent to 66 percent more expensive than traditional Medicaid.

If that plan were applied to Kentucky, not only would costs exceed benefits by 2021, but we would likely never make up the loss. Beyond 2021, costs are expected to grow at nearly 4 percent annually, while the combined benefits would only increase at 2 percent, meaning that the gap would continue to expand over time.

Who is Eligible for Kentucky Medicaid

In Kentucky, Medicaid or Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program (KCHIP) benefits are currently available to:

  • Adults if they have disability, serve as the caretaker relative for a child who is eligible for Medicaid and on average has income below 43 percent of (FPL), or are pregnant; and
  • Children with family income up to 200 percent of FPL.

Expansion will allow more than 308,000 Kentuckians to access reliable, quality health care. The new threshold of 138 percent of FPL means a single person with no children earning less than $15,856 per year is eligible to sign up for Medicaid. A family of four with an annual income of less than $32,499 is also eligible.

Most of the Kentuckians who will be eligible are the working poor. This includes people who work at minimum wage jobs for fewer than 40 hours per week; individuals who are self-employed; or single parents whose children are covered through KCHIP.

Jana Bailey of Berea is one of the hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians who will have health insurance thanks to the expansion. She and her husband have four children, and while her husband has health coverage through his job, Jana does not. “I work part time, but we cannot afford health care coverage for me,” said Bailey. “I will no longer have the added stress of hoping nothing happens to me because I don’t have health care coverage. This program will greatly benefit my family as well as many others throughout our state who are in the same situation.”

Where to find more information:

A new state website houses information about the expansion, including the CHFS white paper and letters from supporters. Visitors can also explore county-by-county data such as how many citizens will be newly eligible for Medicaid, or how much county jails spent on medical care last year. Visit governor.ky.gov/healthierky to learn more.

 

Link to Press Release

Latino Outreach Could Bolster Support for Healthcare Overhaul

A new Latino Decisions survey indicates that Latinos think the Affordable Care Act is a good thing for the Hispanic community after they learn some basic information about it. (Wavebreakmedia Ltd./Getty Images)

 

By EMILY DERUY

May 2, 2013

ABCnews.com

Latinos are very interested in the Affordable Care Act but a new survey shows they don’t know much about it yet.

Targeted outreach to the Hispanic community might go a long way, however, in increasing public support for the law.

The Obama administration is battling fierce opposition to implementation of the law…and looking to gain as much support as possible from allies. President Obama even spoke last week at a Planned Parenthood conference, becoming the first sitting president to address the group in person. The women’s health advocacy organization has been a staunch supporter of the law and Obama said he will need help from it and other groups with implementation.

Latinos could fall into that category, but they don’t yet. Hispanics generally support the law and they stand to be hugely impacted by it — some studies indicate more than five million uninsured Latinos are likely to gain coverage — but a new impreMedia-Latino Decisions survey indicates they find it confusing and are wary about how it will impact them.

More than half of Latinos surveyed said they were “not that informed” or “not at all informed” about President Obama’s healthcare overhaul. More than two-thirds said the healthcare plan is confusing and less than 15 percent said public officials in Washington, D.C. took the health needs of the Latino community into account as the bill was developed and passed.

But the community is eager to know more — nearly 90 percent said they want to learn more about the law.

Here’s the interesting part: After they were provided some basic information about the law, three-quarters said it was a good thing for Latinos.

Those numbers indicate a couple of things. One, that more outreach specifically targeted at Latinos is needed. And two, that Latino support for the law increases after that outreach.

In other words, there’s untapped support for the law in the Latino community. A little targeted outreach could harness it.

Article Link: http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/News/latino-outreach-bolster-support-healthcare-overhaul/story?id=19091923#.UYkfmkS8RFQ