In the spirit of this holiday season, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health invites you to share in a series of blog posts, each containing a special “gift” from health care reform. Some have already been implemented and some are gifts still to come; but all are very important improvements to our healthcare system.
Gift Ten: Insurance Marketplaces and Tax Credits
One of the most important pieces of health care reform – and one that can make or break meaningful reform implementation in Wisconsin – is the insurance marketplaces or Exchanges.Often referred to as the “Travelocity” of health insurance, this statewide marketplace will serve as a “no wrong door” way to obtain coverage.
For Wisconsin women, this is particularly important as they are more likely to make decisions around their families’ health care – including coverage. Exchanges will operate as 1/3 of a three part market – consisting of employer-sponsored insurance (ESL), Affordable Health Care Exchanges (Exchanges) and state health care programs like BadgerCare.
Those covered in an Employer Sponsored Insurance (ESI) plan will still receive many of the gifts that health care reform continues to bring – such as ending pre-existing condition denials. If you are not offered affordable ESI coverage, you can purchase coverage through the Exchange and may qualify for tax credits to help with premiums. There are standards for insurance plans participating in the Exchanges called the Essential Health Benefits, which you can read more about, here. If you are not covered by an ESI plan and cannot afford to purchase a private plan in the exchange you will qualify for a state health care program.
The Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health has been very vocal in advocating for meaningful implementation of a health insurance exchange in Wisconsin. You might remember our post announcing the release of our Webinar and Exchange 101 guide in October. If you would like a more detailed look inside Exchange, click here to view the guide. You can check out our principles for creating a Wisconsin exchange, here. States who do not have an approved exchange by January 2013 will then work with the Federal government to create an exchange.
Exchange Implementation Important Dates:
1. 2012: “The Year of the Exchange”
• Establish Exchange legislation
• Structure an Exchange Board
• May 2012: WI goal to pass legislation to establish state Exchange
2. 2012: Essential Benefits Packages Determined
3. June 30, 2012: HHS Exchange Establishment deadline
• HHS to approve state Exchange plans
4. October 1, 2013- February 28, 2014: Open Enrollment period for Exchanges
5. January 2014: All state Exchanges must be up and running
If you would like to test Wisconsin’s Exchange prototype for yourself – you can access it by clicking here.
If you are a small business owner, be sure to stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog – we will discuss benefits for small businesses, such as tax credits.