Health Insurance Marketplace on October 1
Health care advocates are encouraged by the regulations for state Navigators released this week by the Department of Insurance. The regulations implement SB 262, passed by the General Assembly this spring.
The new Health Insurance Marketplace will open for enrollment on October 1, 2013, with coverage beginning January 1, 2014. Navigators and Certified Application Counselors are designated by the federal health reform law to help individuals understand and enroll in health coverage through the new Marketplace. The regulations issued this week offer clarity to the organizations planning to help in enrollment efforts.
Jen Bersdale, Executive Director of Missouri Health Care for All, stresses the promise of the new marketplace. “For the first time ever, consumers will have a place where they can buy affordable health insurance with good coverage, with financial assistance available to more than half a million people," Bersdale said. "And, nobody can be denied coverage or charged more for a pre-existing condition. Dozens of organizations across the state are preparing to help Missourians access this exciting new opportunity. When the marketplace opens October 1,  Missouri will be ready.”
According to Professor Lisa D’Souza, Saint Louis University, “As written, SB 262 could have made it significantly more difficult for consumers to get help accessing the new health insurance options coming this fall. While we are still reviewing the regulations for provisions that might conflict with federal law or hurt consumers, we are very encouraged by our initial analysis of the regulations.”
Jeanette Mott Oxford, Executive Director of the Missouri Association of Social Welfare, concurs. “There are exciting new insurance plans that will be available this fall – plans that will offer better coverage, lower prices, and better access than many plans currently on the market," Oxford said. "Missourians need a broad range of organizations where they can go for help understanding and enrolling in those plans. The regulations issued this week seem to offer reasonable procedures for organizations willing to serve in those helper roles.”
St. Louis Effort for AIDS is just one of the many agencies that has applied for funding to help people enroll in the new plans. Nancy Kelley, Director of Engagement and Advocacy, stated: “We are relieved to see that the licensing requirements and fees set by the Department of Insurance are reasonable. These regulations will allow us to focus our attention and resources on helping our clients, rather than jumping through unnecessary hurdles.”