Health Insurance

Louisianians Keep Their Health Insurance Subsidies

Jun 29, 2015

138,000 people in Louisiana are still receiving subsidies for health insurance through the federal government.  For them, the United States Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act last week was good news. 

For two decades Atlanta restaurant owner Jim Dunn offered a group health plan to his managers and helped pay for it. That ended Dec. 1, after the Affordable Care Act made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Subsidies under the health law for workers to buy their own coverage combined with years of rising costs in the company plan made dropping the plan an obvious — though not easy — choice.

You don't get a pass this year on big health insurance decisions because you're not shopping in an Affordable Care Act marketplace. Employer medical plans — where most working-age folks get coverage — are changing too.

Rising costs, a looming tax on rich benefits packages and the idea that people should buy medical treatment the way they shop for cellphones have increased odds that workplace plans will be very different in 2015.

UPDATE: The state Office of Group Benefits announced on Oct. 1 -- the first day of the enrollment period for the new health insurance plans -- that the enrollment period will extend until Nov. 30 and the changes will take effect March 1, instead of Jan. 1. In a statement, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said, “Shifting our timeline will give people the chance to get accurate information and better understand their options.”  

The state House Appropriations Committee spent all day Thursday taking testimony about changes to health insurance plans offered for 230,000 state employees, teachers, retirees and their family members through the Louisiana Office of Group Benefits.

The Legislative Fiscal Office had looked over the offerings and estimated maximum out-of-pocket costs for people covered through OGB could go up significantly, 47 percent on average, more than $1,600 per year for a single active employee.

The new plans are supposed to take effect in January. The enrollment period is slated to start next week.

When private hospitals transfer patients who don't have insurance to public hospitals, it's called "patient dumping." But a study from Stanford University published Wednesday suggests a twist: Hospitals, it seems, are less likely to transfer critically injured patients to trauma centers if the patients have health insurance.