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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Assistance offered for registering for health exchanges

  • Three people were ready to help show area residents how to sign up for government-subsidized health insurance Sunday afternoon at the Rolla Public Library, but only one person showed up to express any interest.
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  • Three people were ready to help show area residents how to sign up for government-subsidized health insurance Sunday afternoon at the Rolla Public Library, but only one person showed up to express any interest.
    That was a library employee who stopped in and picked up some handouts and asked a couple of questions.
    "It was like this at Chamois, too," said Kate King, area service director for the Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging, the state agency that is sending its "navigators" around to the 19 counties it serves.
    King said a similar meeting was scheduled at a Methodist church in that community, and only one person showed up to pick up handouts and ask questions.
    "And that was the pastor's daughter," said King, who is based in Columbia.
    Accompanied by Scott Shaffer, St. James, the agency's Phelps County care coordinator, and Steve Pantaleo, Rolla, an employee of Phelps County Regional Medical Center, King was prepared to give a 30-minute presentation, with a slide show, on enrolling in the Missouri health insurance marketplace.
    Both King and Shaffer are federally certified, state-licensed 'navigators" for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Pantaleo is a certified application "counselor."
    King said the team would be back at the library at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, for a similar presentation. That might draw a bigger crowd because Dec. 15 will be the deadline to sign up to have insurance take effect Jan. 1, 2014.
    For some individuals whose insurance is being canceled, that Dec. 15 deadline is critical.
    March 31 is the deadline to enroll in the exchange for 2014, and Pantaleo said he expects as that deadline looms nearer to see more people needing help to get signed up.
    King stressed the three were there to be counselors and advisers only.
    "We do not sell insurance," she said.
    In her presentation, King noted Phelps County has 6,045 people uninsured who are under the age of 65.
    Those people can use the health insurance marketplace, which she described as "a new way to buy health insurance."
    The marketplace is a website "where you can compare and buy health plans from private insurance companies who are competing for your business."
    The marketplace "gives individuals and small businesses access to affordable coverage options" that can begin as early as Jan. 1, 2014.
    Financial help is available, she said.
    All of the marketplace plans cover essential health benefits, including at least these 10 categories: ambulatory services, such as visits to a physician; emergency room visits; hospital stays; mental health and substance use services including counseling; preventive care and chronic disease management; prescription drugs; maternity and newborn care; laboratory services; rehabilitative and habilitation services and devices (physical therapy); and pediatric services, including dental and vision care.
    Page 2 of 2 - There are three plan levels available in Missouri in 2014: bronze, silver and gold. The platinum level is not available. A catastrophic plan option is also available.
    For the bronze plan, the plan pays 60 percent; the enrollee pays 40 percent.
    In the silver plan, it's a 70 percent to 30 percent split.
    In the gold plan, it's an 80-20 split.
    Catastrophic plans are available for young adults under 30 or people with a hardship waiver form the marketplace.
    This coverage has a high deductible and lower premiums; it covers three primary care visits and preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs. It protects from high out-of-pocket cots.
    Looking just at the silver plans, there are five available through the marketplace for residents of Dent, Phelps, Crawford and Pulaski counties. Premiums range from $144 for a 20-year-old to $504 for a 55-year-old.
    Starting Jan. 1, most people must have health coverage or be fined. Qualifying coverage includes Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, employer coverage, VA coverage, an individual policy or a marketplace policy.
    Individual Missourians can use the Missouri Marketplace. Small businesses and their workers can use the Small Business Health Options Program marketplace.
    Financial help is in the form of tax credits or lower monthly premiums and discounts that lower how much you would spend out of pocket on health care.
    Premium tax credits are available to individuals making $11,500 to $45,900 and four-member families making $23,500 to $94,200.
    Cost-sharing discounts are available to individuals making $28,725 or less or a four-member family making $58,875 or less. A silver-level marketplace plan is necessary for this discount.
    Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program are available for people with low income.
    To get help enrolling, you can call toll-free to 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).
    You can also go online at healthcare.gov and use the live chat option.
    You can find a trained assister near you by logging onto covermissouri.org or healthcare.gov.
    Insurance agents and brokers can also help. They must be registered to conduct business in the marketplace and meet navigator standards. They cannot receive direct or indirect compensation from the insurance companies.
    The Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging can be reached at 1-800-369-5211.

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