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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Insurance commissioner discusses health care law

  • Some provisions of the federal health care reform law already are in effect, but the "heavy lifting comes now," Kansas' insurance commissioner said.
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  • Some provisions of the federal health care reform law already are in effect, but the "heavy lifting comes now," Kansas' insurance commissioner said.
    Sandy Praeger spoke about some of the changes that will result from the federal Affordable Care Act Thursday at the Leavenworth Public Library.
    She said some provisions that already are in place including children being allowed to remain on their parents' health insurance until they're 26.
    One of the provisions that will begin in 2014 is the individual mandate requiring people to have health insurance. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the individual mandate is constitutional.
    The federal health insurance exchange program that will be operated in Kansas also will go into effect next year. The exchange is being operated by the federal government.
    "We didn't set up our own state exchange," Praeger said.
    Qualified employers and individuals can use the health insurance marketplace, or exchange, to shop for and enroll in private health insurance programs, according to information from Praeger's office.
    Enrollment for the exchange will begin Oct. 1. Praeger said this initial open enrollment will last through March.
    There are three companies that will be offering plans through the exchange for Kansas. But each company is offering numerous plans.
    "There's still an awful lot of choice," she said.
    Under the law, qualified individuals may receive tax credits and subsidies to help pay their premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Eligibility will be based on income, according to information from Praeger.
    Praeger said the federal health care law was supposed expand the Medicaid program. But the Supreme Court ruled the federal government can't require states to expand Medicaid coverage.
    Kansas is one of the states that is not taking part in the Medicaid expansion. Praeger said this creates a situation in which some low income residents in the state won't be eligible for assistance for paying for health insurance. That's because the federal law was designed to cover these people through the expanded Medicaid program.
    She said the law will eliminate insurance providers' ability to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions. She said there also will be limits placed on out-of-pocket expenses that are above and beyond premiums.
    Praeger said Medicare coverage will not change other than a couple of benefits that will be added.
    The Kansas Insurance Department has set up a website, insureKS.org, to provide information about the new health care law.
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