Tens of thousands of uninsured Iowans can begin to research their options in the government-run “exchange” or “insurance marketplace” that’ll be set up this fall, however all the details aren’t yet available.
Nanette Foster Reilly — an administrator in the Kansas City Regional Office of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — says a 24-hour-a-day call center went “live” this week.
“What’s the premium? What’s the marketplace all about? Will I be able to qualify for any kind of help through the marketplace? — Those are the kinds of questions that the call center and the website will be able to help consumers with right now,” Foster Reilly says.
Federal officials say there are more than 255,000 people living in Iowa who do not have health insurance coverage today. That’s about 10 percent of the state’s population and Foster Reilly says many may qualify for a government subsidy that will cover some of the cost of their insurance.
“On the www.healthcare.gov website there is a quick answer tool that allows people to put some information in about their own circumstances and it will provide them, first of all, with a check list of things that they need to think about or get collected before open enrollment begins October 1 and also will let them know what they might be qualified for,” Foster Reilly says. “Now, it’s not a final determination tool, but it will give them a good idea.”
The State of Iowa is asking federal officials for a waiver to expand the Medicaid program in a slightly different way than the program is currently operated. State officials estimate as many as 150,000 uninsured Iowans might be eligible for this new “Iowa Health and Wellness Program” — if the feds grant that waiver.
The Affordable Care Act calls for the “insurance marketplace” option for uninsured Americans to start providing coverage to citizens who qualify and enroll on January 1. Enrollment for that coverage begins October 1.
The number for the toll-free call center that’s now open 24 hours a day to take questions is 1-800-318-2596.