Are Michiganders buying health insurance?

Picture 4Have you trekked the Mich. exchange to purchase health insurance? Were you successful? Encounter error messages?

When the state’s marketplace opened for enrollment on Tuesday, Oct. 1, the federal site Healthcare.gov experienced something of historic proportions, said Erin Knott of Enroll America.

“The numbers were just so incredibly high and because of that surge of folks that were from Mich. and the other 32 states that are part of the federal exchange, there were some slowdowns,” she said.

Many were in the midst of the application process when the site timed-out, Knott explained. But the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is taking the steps to resolve the technical snaggle.

“This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon and it’s to be expected that there are going to be some challenges,” Knott said.

And it hasn’t stopped state residents from trying again, she says.

“People are still very enthusiastic and looking forward to shopping the marketplace…because they haven’t had insurance for ten years or they know somebody that had a financial emergency related to not having coverage and this is a historic opportunity for them,” Knott said.

While some data of site traffic has been recorded, official numbers for Mich. residents who have purchased health coverage will be released later this year by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

“Obviously they’re tracking it,” Knott said, “But they haven’t given us numbers yet.” She is unsure whether the data will be released on a monthly basis or more frequently.

The Department of Insurance and Financial Services issued some plan averages to help shoppers price out their coverage options.

The average cost for a bronze level plan, which generally has the lowest premiums but requires the highest out-of-pocket costs, is $275 per month, according to the site.

There are four different plan options ranging from bronze to silver, gold, and platinum. Premiums prices vary based on plan level, age of policyholder, residency, household size and tobacco use.

It is important to note that the organization did not issue an average price for platinum plans, which only include three plans, Knott says, because these plans are only offered in certain all regions in the state.

(To learn more, visit www.michigan.gov/difs.)

While many see the surge in site visits as a promising sign that the state’s 1.3 million uninsured residents will soon flood the market, local providers like Rick Young Insurance in Rochester say the delays have been frustrating.

He has told many of his customers to come back in a couple weeks to make the process easier.

“You go to try to get on you’re going to start and you’re going to get taken off because it’s overloaded,” he said.

Some of his clients have even decided to sidestep government subsidies, or discounts on policy prices, just to expedite the application process—“It’s a complicated process,” he said.

A helpful reminderDIFS calculator

If you plan to meet with a navigator or insurance provider to apply for health coverage, be sure to have your 2012 aggregate income on-hand, Young said. “That’s the biggest thing (needed for the application process),” he said.

Still unsure what you will pay for health coverage? The Department of Insurance and Financial Services has a policy calculator online that will help you estimate what your health insurance premium will be.

You can check it out here.

To learn more about coverage options, Knott suggests visiting Enroll America’s site, www.getcoveredamerica.org, which will direct you to navigator sources to help you along the way. This will ease up traffic for those already in the application process on www.healthcare.gov, she said.

CVSSome additional resources we have come across that you may find helpful in answering your health insurance questions:

Local pharmacies like CVS have issued pamphlets highlighting the basics of healthcare reform. You can check out their website here (www.cvs.com/insurance)

If you missed our earlier coverage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and open enrollment in Mich., you can read those stories here and here.

To be thinking about…

The Wayne State Physician’s Group, which has several staff offering to help state residents enroll for health insurance at various locations statewide—With some in Rochester, will be hosting an explanatory event at the Rochester Hills Public Library in the near future. They have not released the finalized event information yet, so be sure to check back here in the coming weeks and we’ll have those details for you.

Share with us

Have you tried purchasing health insurance on the exchange? What was your experience like? Share it with Rochester Media by sending health reporter Jen Bucciarelli a message at [email protected].

 

About Jen Bucciarelli

Veggie lover and aspiring word chef, reporter Jen Bucciarelli covers all things health and medicine for Rochester Media and The Community Edge. She is always on the hunt for local experts who can help improve the lives of our readers. Send her a note at [email protected].

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