TribLIVE

| Business


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Many in Pennsylvania can still get benefit of Affordable Care Act

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

On the Grid

From the shale fields to the cooling towers, Trib Total Media covers the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. For the latest news and views on gas, coal, electricity and more, check out On the Grid today.

Daily Photo Galleries

Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, 10:54 p.m.
 

Alicia Donner left her job with an environmental nonprofit last month, a move that cost her employer-sponsored health coverage.

But the 27-year-old from Wilkinsburg wasn't worried — she enrolled in a health plan through the online marketplace established under the Affordable Care Act.

Even though open enrollment on Healthcare.gov ended on March 31 and won't start again until Nov. 15, Donner qualified for a special enrollment period because she no longer had a job that provided coverage.

There are about 61,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians who could gain coverage because they lost their jobs, got divorced or moved, according to estimates from Enroll America, a nonprofit group that advocates for President Obama's health overhaul law.

“While we made great strides in getting Pennsylvanians covered during the first open enrollment period, there are still many who remain uninsured and unaware of their new options,” said Bill England, state director of Enroll America's Get Covered campaign.

Enroll America's analysis used Census data to estimate how many people typically experience one of the qualifying “life events” laid out under the Affordable Care Act that trigger a special enrollment period.

For Donner, the ability to pick up federally subsidized health insurance made her decision to quit working full time and explore other careers less stressful.

“It was just time for a change,” she said. “And being able to get a health plan made me realize it was time for change, and I would be OK without a full-time job for a while.”

Donner said the coverage on the federal exchange costs about $140 a month after a $60 subsidy. She couldn't recall how much she paid for health insurance under her former employer's plan.

The Congressional Budget Office in February predicted that many Americans would choose to work less because they no longer relied on an employer for health insurance. The CBO report estimated a decline of 2 million full-time-equivalent jobs in 2017.

“The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses' demand for labor,” the report stated.

Donner chose a plan from Highmark Inc., the state's largest health insurer and one of the dominant carriers on the federal exchange in Pennsylvania.

From the beginning of April through Wednesday, about 40,000 people in Pennsylvania have enrolled in a Highmark health plan through special enrollment, spokeswoman Adrienne Baldini said.

Helping Donner to enroll was a navigator from the Consumer Health Coalition, a North Side nonprofit group that helps the uninsured sign up for coverage available on the federal exchange.

Antoinette Kraus, interim executive director, said that since April the coalition has seen an average of three to four people a week who are seeking special enrollment assistance since April.

“It's a lot of folks who are changing jobs or lost employment,” she said. “That's probably about 75 percent of our enrollment.”

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

Add Alex Nixon to your Google+ circles.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Business Headlines

  1. Overhaul possible for West Mifflin’s Century III Mall
  2. Google adds HBO access, mobile payment to next version of Android
  3. Avago Technologies to pay $37 billion for chipmaker rival Broadcom
  4. No end in sight for casino market saturation in northeastern U.S.
  5. Chevron settles fatal shale gas well fire lawsuit for $5M
  6. Task force to plot ways of easing gas glut in Pennsylvania via pipelines
  7. Weak first-quarter economic report anticipated
  8. Asian sell-off, Greece uncertainty rattle Wall Street
  9. IRS cybersecurity breach touches lives of homebuyers, others
  10. Tight supply pushes home prices higher
  11. Pitt study suggests health law attracting young to balance insurers’ risks