Health Care Reform Updates

Washington State Affordable Care Act

2012 was a big year for the Affordable Care Act in Washington State.

While relatively few new provisions of the law were implemented, the ACA’s immediate future was secured by the Supreme Court and November’s presidential election. In late June, the country’s highest court ruled that the landmark legislation was indeed constitutional – and President Barack Obama’s re-election meant that the health reform law he championed wasn’t going anywhere. Washington State Health Care Reform is quickly moving and will be running full steam starting Jan 1st, 2014.

2014 is when the country will really begin to see the essence of the ACA: Washington affordable health insurance exchange known as Washington Health Plan Finder will have to be up and running, and the national Medicaid program will expand its coverage to millions of low-income Americans. In 2013, it’s going to be crucial for employers and health providers to adequately prepare themselves for the drastic changes their practices and the industry as a whole will see. A major challenge will be finding a way to have enough health providers who can be the supply to the increased demand that those two new provisions will bring. For employers, how the increased cost is going to affect their bottom line. Make no mistake, the cost of insurance WILL go up in 2013. 

Washington State Health Insurance Increase

On top of that preparation, here are the  major provisions of the Affordable Care Act that will go live in 2013 for Washington State:

1. Employers notice requirements.

In anticipation of open enrollment starting October 1, 2013 for the Washington Health Plan Finder, employers must provide each current employee a written notice with information about the health exchange. Information includes a notice that the employee may be eligible for a premium tax credit and that the employee may loose employer contributions if they enroll in the new exchange. Moving forward, any new employee must receive a written notice at time of hire. The Department of Labor is expected to release model notices for employers to use to satisfy requirements.

 When: June 1st – This has been delayed due to final approval by the Health Care Authority Board on implementation structure.

When: October 1, 2013

2. Washington Health Plan Finder LIVE

Starting October, open enrollment starts for all Washington State legal residence to enroll in the Health Plan Finder . The Health Plan Finder will be located at http://wahbexchange.org .  The HCA is working tirelessly to get this operational and running before open enrollment periods.  Recent demo’s provided by the Health Care Authority reveals a system that is easy to navigate and informational.

When: October 1st, 2013

3. Improving coverage for preventive health care.

Washington State Medicaid and Medicare programs that opt to provide preventive services for their patients at little or no cost will receive extra funding from the federal government.

When: January 1st, 2014

4. Increasing Medicaid payments for primary care doctors.

Washington will be required to pay primary care doctors no less than 100 percent of Medicaid payment rates in 2013 and 2014 for primary care services, which will comprise a major part of 2014′s swell in demand for medical care. The federal government will fund this increase in compensation, because the more primary care providers there are, the more opportunities there are for people to catch adverse health conditions in the early stages or prevent them outright. That, in turn, cuts costs and improves health in general.

When: January 1st, 2014

5. More funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in Washington State known as Apple Health, covers youngsters who aren’t quite eligible for Medicaid but whose families can’t afford health coverage. This provision means Washington will get two more years of funding for Apple Health programs.

When: January 1st, 2014