One thing is certain about the Affordable Care Act - it can be confusing, said Kim Jones, with the South Dakota Navigator Coalition, during a Nov. 14 panel discussion hosted by South Dakota Farmers Union during their fall conference in Huron.
It can be confusing even to people who have studied up on it, said Jones, who as a Navigator is one of 17 individuals in the state trained to help elevate confusion and guide South Dakotans through the process.
Farmers Union brought Jones and other South Dakota's health insurance industry experts together for a panel discussion to visit about the impact the Affordable Care Act will have on individuals and families throughout the state. The panel offered their insight and answered several questions.
As advocates for South Dakota's farmers and ranchers, we saw this as a good opportunity to provide first-hand information to our members, said SDFU President Doug Sombke.
Along with Jones, the panel included: Erik Nelson with South Dakota AARP; Jennie Nickles with Sanford Health and Warren Graber with Graber & Associates Insurance, Inc.
Here's what these experts had to say:
Question: With all the technical difficulties, where can I go for information and insurance options?
Kim Jones Answers: Consider giving myself or another Navigator a call. You can find contact information for your local Navigator online at http://www.interlakescap.com. Also, I encourage you to visit the Kaiser Family Foundation website kff.org. The site is very helpful.
Question: I received a cancellation letter from my insurance company, what does this mean?
Warren Graber Answers: Some of what I'm going to say may change following the Presidents Nov. 14 announcement that insurance companies can keep policies that don't meet Affordable Care Act standards for the next year. However, as of today, here is what I know.
A cancelation letter doesn't mean you'll have problems buying health insurance. No matter what kind of letter you get in the mail, if it has something to do with cancelation or something else, call your local insurance representative.
Most of them will be up on rules and regulations. And, typically if you call within 30-60 days of receiving the cancelation letter your local insurance agent can fix things.
Jenni Nickles Answers: I agree that things are a little up in the air after the President's announcement. A week ago, we sent out 5,000 cancelations letters because the policies were not compliant with the Affordable Care Act and we needed to transition the policy owners to plans that were compliant. As we better understand what the President's announcement means to our policy holders, we will be able to answer their questions.
Question: How are things different with the Affordable Care Act?
Warren Graber Answers: The crucial question to ask yourself is, do I qualify for subsidies or not? The answer to this question determines if you need to apply for insurance through an exchange or through insurance providers who are outside the exchange. You only receive subsidies by going with providers found within the exchange. Whether you qualify is based on income, not assets - which may create some challenges for farmers.
In South Dakota, the three carriers inside the exchange include; Avera, Sanford and Dakotacare; Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is an example of a provider who decided not to participate in the exchange - at least during the 2014-2015 year. There are other providers in South Dakota who also decided not to participate in the exchange.
Jenni Nickles Answers: A couple basic things that have changed when it comes to insurance policies, is all things are equal. You no longer receive a better rate based on sex or whether or not you have preexisting conditions.
As of Jan. 1 2014 health insurance companies can no longer ask you health related questions. Rates can vary based on age and whether or not you are a tobacco user.
A couple basic things that have changed when it comes to insurance policies, is all things are equal. You no longer receive a better rate based on sex or whether or not you have preexisting conditions.
Question: As a small employer with 50 employees or less if I don't offer health insurance, will I be penalized?