A key unknown is how long it will take new enrollees to be taught by trained “navigators” about their available subsidy, and what health-plan options suit their families. If each new enrollee takes 90 minutes, and the first year brings 142,000 members, the board needs to budget $19.5 million for the first year of its sign-up operations. If 113,000 sign up and each takes about 75 minutes, the first-year budget needs about $15 million, planners said. A third scenario of 103,000 people taking 60 minutes each would cost $12 million.
HHS may have expanded the lives of these mini-med plans, but they’re not expected to be around beyond 2014, when the law is fully implemented. Steve Larsen, deputy director of HHS’ Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, acknowledged that “these plans are going to disappear,” in a Nov. 25 article in Inside CMS, a health policy publication.
Instead, workers who have these limited plans now will be able to buy their own coverage through state-based exchanges. And low- and mid-income individuals (earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level) can receive premium credits and subsidies to help them do that. Plus, in 2014, the law expands eligibility for Medicaid so that those under the age of 65 earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level — that’s $14,400 in 2010 for an individual — will qualify for coverage.