HealthSource RI

The main promise of the Affordable Care Act was - and is - to get more Americans covered by health insurance. But news today about Walmart's dropping coverage for 30,000 part-time workers reminds us there's still a rocky road to coverage for some.

With open enrollment for coverage through the health insurance exchanges right around the corner (Nov. 15), I thought it might be a good time to shine a spotlight on a couple of groups affected.

October 15 marks the start of open enrollment for anyone who wants to switch Medicare Advantage plans or join Medicare Part D, the prescription drug plan.

November 15 is when open enrollment begins for HealthSource RI, the second time around for Rhode Island's online health insurance marketplace for individuals, families, and small businesses.

Here's what we know so far about the options.

Rhode Island's next governor - whether it's Republican Allan Fung or Democrat Gina Raimondo - will have plenty of challenges to tackle upon taking office. The state's ailing economy will most likely hold the spotlight over the next eight weeks until the general election. But perhaps I could put a few health care items on the agenda for their consideration - and for the general assembly's.

Many small businesses will be renewing health insurance coverage for their employees beginning in September. And HealthSource RI head Christine Ferguson says she hopes small business owners will consider plans on the state’s health insurance exchange. They’ll find some new options this time around, she says.

“We are in the finalization of the plan design. And we have plans that cost less than they cost last year," said Ferguson. "And we have a wider range of options. We have more carriers in the market for individuals as well as on the employer side.”

RIPR FILE

State lawmakers have plenty of competing priorities to consider as they wrap up the legislative session. One of those is what to do with the state’s health insurance exchange, HealthSource RI. Health care reporter Kristin Gourlay joins host Dave Fallon to talk about the lively debate that's developed around this question of whether to keep HealthSource going or scrap it and default to the federal health insurance exchange, healthcare.gov.

Lawmakers are being asked to decide the fate of HealthSource RI, the state’s online health insurance exchange. At issue is how to pay for it, or whether to scrap it. And plenty of voices are weighing in on the conversation. The latest claims state officials were told years ago that building an exchange wasn’t viable but did it anyway.

As you may know, there's a debate in the Rhode Island Statehouse over how to fund the state's online health insurance marketplace, HealthSource RI, after the Obamacare money runs out. Some say the $17 - $23 million dollar price tag to fund the site, customer service reps and centers, and infrastructure needed to negotiate for health insurance plans for sale on the site is just too much for a state with anemic coffers.

Healthsource RI Needs $4.6M For 2015

May 23, 2014

Rhode Island's health insurance exchange HealthSource RI says it needs $4.6 million dollars to keep running through fiscal year 2015.

The money would need to come from the state.  HealthSource RI director Christine Ferguson says the money would cover the program's operating costs, and will allow federal funding to cover program development.

As you may know, today is the deadline for individuals and families to sign up for health insurance coverage through HealthSource RI, if you don't already have coverage. But what happens tomorrow?

Well, if you're an individual or a family without coverage now, and you can't get it through your employer or via Medicaid, you'll have to wait until the next open enrollment period, November 15, 2014. Also, you might face a tax penalty.

Monday is the deadline to enroll in a health insurance plan through HealthSource RI, the state’s online insurance marketplace. That’s the last chance to enroll until November.

The push is on to attract as many eligible Rhode Islanders to HealthSource RI to sign up for a health insurance plan. March 31st is the deadline to enroll in coverage in order to avoid a tax penalty for the year. And the next open enrollment period doesn’t start until mid-November for coverage that begins the following January. So if you were waiting until the last minute, now’s the time.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment called The Bottom Line.

This week, HealthSource RI director Christine Ferguson joins Dave and Mark to talk about the approaching deadline for open enrollment, how to attract more small businesses, young 'invincibles,' and Latinos to the health insurance exchange, and funding the exchange into the future.

When to Listen
You can hear The Bottom Line each Friday at 5:50pm.

Rhode Island took advantage of millions in federal dollars to build and launch its own health insurance exchange. Now as that federal money is about to run out, HealthSource RI director Christine Ferguson says she’s got a plan for the 2015 fiscal year, which starts this July.

The Commonwealth Fund

Looks like a mixed bag. Check out this interactive map from the Commonwealth Fund. Of the states with their own, state-run marketplaces, some plan to raise revenue for their exchanges with taxes or "assessments" on health insurance premiums, for instance. Others, like Rhode Island, seem to be still undecided.

The latest numbers out of the state's health insurance exchange show most residents are enrolling in Medicaid and And many of those who have enrolled in private health insurance are getting financial assistance to help pay for their coverage.

 

New numbers show nearly 20,000 Rhode Islanders have signed up for insurance on HealthSource RI, the state's insurance exchange. Meanwhile, almost 49,000 have enrolled in a state-paid Medicaid plan. The numbers also show 133 small businesses have enrolled to offer their employees and families coverage through the exchange.

 

Rhode Island’s health insurance exchange is opening a temporary walk in center in Warwick today. Open enrollment on HealthSource RI ends this month.

Pages