I like Obamacaresignups dot net.

They are tracking an estimate of the total number of signups for ACA-generated policies.

There are considerably more Medicaid enrollments compared to private purchases on the much-improved healthcare.gov website.  Pennsylvania is only showing 11,800 enrollments—a number that has to be higher by now.    If 4% of those are in Lancaster County, that’s about 500 people.   It means I personally know 1% of them (and counseled them to go out and get a Marketplace policy).

The stories are being written about the handful of people for whom the Affordable Care Act isn’t, for some reason, working out.   I saw one like that in the New York Times today.   These are cases where people didn’t have good tax or financial advice, and they didn’t know to try and get their income under 400% of federal poverty level for 2012—as readers of my site knew to do!   Also, the article misses the point that these people can still buy on the Marketplace, and then plan, if they can, to get their income under 400% FPL for 2014.   What they are missing out on is the “advance” premium tax credit.   It is 2014’s credit, being advanced now, starting in January.

There is another thing that is disappointing.   People are misunderstanding what missing the initial enrollment period means.  It’s great that the deadline to sign up was moved to Monday (December 23).   But that’s only to assure January coverage.   If you sign up on December 24, you get February coverage—not no coverage!   The open enrollment period lasts through March 31 (for May coverage).  

As this new way of obtaining health insurance becomes more and more “real” to the general public, I have a feeling that the program and the website are going to become much more popular.   Since the main driver of ACA is that premium tax credit, tax preparers are going to get peppered with questions from the occasional client who needs guidance.   How many really are ready?   Clearly, quite a few were not ready in 2012 . . .

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4 comments

  1. gemit2000 · December 22, 2013

    I thought of a few things that maybe you’d want to get out to the “hoofin public” based on my experiences, if you haven’t already. First, for those who tried to sign up early and are still having trouble getting enrolled that possibly withdrawing one’s application and starting anew will allow them to start and finish rather quickly. I remembered hearing Michael Smerconish mention he had trouble till he used this “withdraw application” application and then all went smoothly from there. On my 6th application attempt (the last 5 of which were on the phone), I finally thought of this and mentioned it to the rep and finally was able to complete enrollment glitch-free. I think it was my initial failure on the web that caused all the computer issues from that time on.

    This 6th attempt actually wasn’t my last attempt though it was my last Healthcare.gov attempt and this is the other thing I wanted to share with you. The problem on the 6th attempt was I was given some different and new plan info causing me to want to re-re-re-research what plan would be best. It was then when calling Humana to ask if my doctors were on their ACA plan I found out that their system was connected to the gov’t database and so I could apply through them; I was able to find out the plan that was best, find out the subsidy info, available, apply and enroll in a matter of minutes. So I also wanted to tell you that people who wish they could avoid Healthcare.gov altogether can by working directly with an insurance company. If one’s tired of endless hurdles dealing with Healthcare.gov, this was an easy work-around. Then again I think it was my initial problems that caused most of the ensuing problems so perhaps those starting fresh today will find the Healthcare.gov website a seamless and positive experience

    Also want to thank you because it was on your site I realized I could convert IRAs into a Roths to ensure I had a high enough MAGI to participate in the Marketplace. Otherwise I’d be one of those who wouldn’t qualify for the exchange nor qualify for Medicaid in my non-expanding Florida.

    So I’m left with only a few complaints left. One is that my premiums of $1.80 per month and an out of pocket max of $750 are way too affordable. Due to my assets, mostly in IRAs, my 100% FPL income is not comparable to someone else with no assets; I should pay more. But the biggest complaint is that those who make less than 100% FPL and without assets can wind up without any affordable care if they live in a non-expanding state. I’m flabbergasted at the ideological pettiness of state legislatures and governors run by Republicans who don’ care if their political decisions hurt their state’s hospitals, economy, or impoverished citizens desperate for healthcare. Lastly I wish that the government would have paid people in your profession to be the navigators so they’d be shown how to get the most affordable care or perhaps how to get affordable care at all..

    Thanks again, Gene Mitchell

    • hoofin · December 23, 2013

      You’re welcome, Gene. I am always happy to hear from people who learned something valuable from my writing on the site. I agree that there is an underappreciated problem in the non-expansion states. Some commenters like the Kaiser Family Foundation are referring to it as the “Medicaid Gap”. People who fall into the gap end up with nothing: no Medicaid, no Premium Tax Credit.

  2. Teresa Kielty · December 23, 2013

    I am one of those that have found that in Indiana I do not qualify for Medicaid (Healthy Indiana Plan) because the 35,000 that the state agreed to allow under the state eligibility criteria does not fit me because the state has met their agreement numbers with the Fed to cover the 35,000. In addition, my health plan that costs $358 a month with a $10,000 deductible is going away and is being replaced with an $800 policy as of March 1, 2014.
    I was also informed by Indiana that since I have health insurance already I do not qualify.

    I am white, 58, newly divorced, living on savings, was a homemaker while married, now unemployed. I can no longer pay the $358 a month and I cannot pay upwards to $800.

    My application keeps being bumped back to Indiana by the Market Place since the Market Place insists Indiana should cover me under Medicaid. Then Indiana bumps it back to the Market Place saying Indiana has no duty to insure me since they have already met the numbers agreed between Indiana and the Federal Government.

    My options at this time:
    1. Request a dispensation so that I will not have to pay the fine. However, I will be left without insurance
    2. Pay the premiums without subsidy.
    3. Appeal to the Market Place so that I may obtain subsidized health insurance from the Federal Government

    I will appeal. That is my only option.
    Teresa Kielty

    • hoofin · December 23, 2013

      Teresa, when you say “subsidized” health insurance, you really mean that they are denying you the Advance Premium Tax Credit, right? Because they say your 2012 income is too high?

      I went to Healthsherpa.com and popped in an Indiana zip code. For someone your age, Bronze plans are in the $500’s, with a much lower deductible ($5,000) and lower out-of-pocket cap ($6350) than what you have now. How come these kinds of plans aren’t acceptable in the short term that it takes for the feds to figure out what they are doing with that advance tax credit? Why can’t you go in based off your share of 2012 income?

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