PITTSBURGH, Jan. 17, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller tonight promised to continue the Wolf Administration's support for provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that have helped 1.1 million Pennsylvanians get health care coverage and reduced Pennsylvania's uninsured rate from 10.2 to 6.4 percent, as Congress considers changes to the landmark health insurance law.
Appearing on PCNC's "Night Talk", Commissioner Miller told host Ellis Cannon Governor Wolf's expansion of Medicaid under the ACA along with subsidies to help most individuals getting coverage through the federal marketplace at www.Healthcare.gov have led to the dramatic reduction in the number of Pennsylvanians without health coverage.
"We need to make changes to the ACA to stabilize the market, but we need to keep the provisions of the law that have helped so many Pennsylvanians have access to affordable health insurance," Commissioner Miller said.
Commissioner Miller said that so far more than 413,000 Pennsylvanians have selected health insurance plans through healthcare.gov for 2017.In 2016, 78 percent of individuals who shopped on the federal marketplace received subsidies to help pay their premiums. With subsidies available for individuals with incomes up to $47,580 and families of four up to $97,200, the federal Department of Health and Human Services estimates that three-fourths of returning marketplace consumers will be able to find a health plan for less than $100 a month in premiums, after subsidies are applied. Gov. Wolf's expansion of Medicaid under the ACA has also provided access to health coverage for nearly 700,000 additional Pennsylvania citizens.
In the first year of Pennsylvania's Medicaid expansion, almost 63,000 newly eligible Medicaid enrollees accessed drug and alcohol treatment. This coverage is essential in battling the opioid and heroin public health crisis that took over 3,500 lives in Pennsylvania in 2015.
Open enrollment for 2017 continues until January 31. Commissioner Miller encouraged any Pennsylvanian without health insurance to shop on www.Healthcare.gov and sign up before the deadline. She reminded consumers of the various resources available to help those who are shopping for health insurance make an informed decision.
Last year, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department released a printable shopper's guide and video designed to help consumers understand what they need to consider when selecting a plan. This video is now also available in Spanish.
The Insurance Department also recently announced a partnership with Consumers' Checkbook on a website that allows consumers to compare ACA compliant on- and off-exchange plans available in their area. In some areas, consumers may find that off-exchange plans may be less expensive than on-exchange options; however, only on-exchange plans are eligible for financial assistance. The plan comparison tool, which is available at https://pa.checkbookhealth.org, allows consumers to enter personal data to compare estimated yearly out-of-pocket costs, overall quality of plans, and doctor and prescription drug availability.
In a letter to U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Commissioner Miller urged Congress to keep parts of the law which have helped many people get vital health care coverage. These provisions include requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions and many preventive care services, and a ban on lifetime maximum benefit amounts. The law also contains requirements for parity between medical and mental health and substance abuse coverage, which Commissioner Miller says are vital, especially considering the current opioid abuse epidemic across the country. The letter can be read here.
"I am prepared to work with members of Congress to find ways to improve the law and stabilize the market, to tackle unsustainably rising costs in our health care system, and to look for ways we can make our system work better for consumers," Commissioner Miller said.
She urged residents to contact their representative in Congress and U.S. Senators to let them know they support keeping consumer protection provisions of the ACA, and to work to strengthen the law as changes are considered.
For more information on health insurance or to contact the Insurance Department's Bureau of Consumer Services, visit www.insurance.pa.gov or call 1-877-881-6388.
MEDIA CONTACT: Ron Ruman- 717-787-3289
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Insurance