OFBF working on helping members deal with the Affordable Care Act

Buckeye Farm News


“For the next several years, health care will be going through a lot of changes. Ohio Farm Bureau is committed to being engaged in the healthcare area by providing education and services that meet members’ needs,” said Dan Rapp, senior director of OFBF’s health services development.

President Obama’s goal under ACA is to provide health care insurance for all Americans, including those previously uninsured or those denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. However, the ACA has been beset with problems such as online registration difficulties and been criticized for forcing some consumers to switch to more expensive health insurance plans.

Most of OFBF’s farmer members have insurance through an off-farm job or their spouse, Rapp said. Those who don’t have insurance will need to get it by March 31, 2014 to avoid penalties. They can do so by going to the government’s Health Insurance Marketplace or “exchange” to compare plans and select coverage. Four types of coverages are available (bronze, silver, gold and platinum), and the cost depends on the private carrier selected and where consumers live. For example, bronze coverage for a family in Athens County is $811 a month, compared with $626 in neighboring Wood County, W.Va.

Health insurance plans that were in place on or before March 23, 2010 are grandfathered in and don’t have to be ACA compliant, Rapp said. But consumers or businesses with plans that aren’t grandfathered in probably will have to buy new, more costly plans, he said. And businesses with 50 or more full-time employees will be required to offer insurance benefits to employees.

“Cost is a hot issue for consumers and businesses,” Rapp said. “Ohio Farm Bureau is working on building some subject material expertise on the Affordable Care Act so we can explain the changes to the health industry and how they impact members as well as find ways to help members determine what coverage is best for them.”

*Ohio Farm Bureau’s desire to provide its members with health care information and services has deep roots. In early 1943, Ohio Farm Bureau rolled out a new hospitalization insurance plan for farmers. By Sept. 1 of that year, 75 percent of Ohio counties were making Farm Bureau health and accident insurance available to their Farm Bureau members.Quote:

Have a story to share about your experiences with the Affordable Care Act? Contact us at [email protected].

See how much a health insurance exchange program will cost in your county by visiting: http://ofb.ag/dec19bfn.

Key ACA dates

Jan. 1, 2014

Insurance coverage purchased by Dec. 23, 2013 on the Health Insurance Marketplace starts. Businesses with 50 or more full-time employees must offer insurance benefits to employees. Not doing so can result in penalties starting in 2015.

Businesses with fewer than 25 employees may be eligible for a tax credit equal to 50 percent of the amount they contribute to the insurance premiums of their employees.Insurers may no longer deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. The exception is non-group policies that were grandfathered in.

Annual limits on insurance coverage will be eliminated.Households in Ohio, Washington, D.C. and 25 other states with incomes between 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for subsidized health insurance through Medicaid.

March 31, 2014

Open enrollment ends for purchasing 2014 policies in the health insurance marketplaces. People can still enroll if they have a “qualifying” event such as having a child, losing a job or getting divorced.

April 1, 2014

Individuals without health insurance will be fined unless they are exempted. The fines stair step in over three years. For the year 2014, they are $95 per uninsured adult and $285 or 1 percent of household incomes per family, whichever is greater.

Nov. 15, 2014

Open enrollment begins for 2015 policies.

Sources: www.healthcare.gov, Kaiser Family Foundation, Ohio Medical Mutual

Lynn Snyder 

Lynn Snyder is senior director of communications for Ohio Farm Bureau.

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