CoastLine: How is the Affordable Care Act Working in NC?

Mar 30, 2016

The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, was signed into law in 2010.   But it wasn’t until October of 2013 that the health care exchange went live.  Widespread problems accompanied the rollout – including website errors, impossibly long delays, and misquoted prices.  Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius resigned her post six months later. 

Advocates for the health care exchange say most of the website issues are now resolved and enrollment is easier.  But are the intentions behind the legislation being fulfilled – making health care coverage universally available to previously uninsured Americans – including those with pre-existing conditions?  Are people who could not afford health insurance now able to pay for it through the health care exchange?  What are the unintended consequences of this legislation?  And how is the lack of Medicaid expansion in North Carolina impacting the implementation of Obamacare?

Guests:

Sorien Schmidt, North Carolina Director of Enroll America, a nonprofit created after the passage of the ACA to help uninsured Americans get health care coverage through the health care exchange

Scott Whisnant, Administrator of Community Relations at New Hanover Regional Medical Center

Ciara Zachary, Health Policy Analyst, Health Access Coalition at the North Carolina Justice Center

Connette Bradley, Licensed Insurance Agent, Owner, NC Insurance Advisors

Additional Resources:

For questions about using or paying for insurance: 

North Carolina Department of Insurance:  www.ncdoi.com

For assistance with the ACA health care exchange and to find a local Assistor:

https://www.getcoveredamerica.org/

Sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services: 

Attend a Medicaid Reform Public Hearing

Attending a public hearing is one way to share your thoughts on the draft NC Medicaid Reform plan. No registration is necessary. Each session will begin with a brief presentation, followed by the opportunity to give input on the draft Medicaid Reform waiver application (Section 1115 demonstration waiver). To allow time for everyone to speak, comments will be limited to 2 minutes. Written comments may be submitted online, or by U.S. Mail, email or dropped off in person.

March 30, 2016
McKimmon Center
Room 6
1101 Gorman Street
Raleigh, NC 27606
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

March 31, 2016
Union County Dept. of Social Services
Auditorium
1212 W. Roosevelt Boulevard
Monroe, NC 28110
2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

You also may listen and comment by phone during the March 31 Session, 2-4 p.m.
No registration is necessary.
Dial 1-888-585-9008 and, when asked, enter conference room number 780073319#
When asked, state your name.
To make a comment, press *9 on your phone. The moderator will tell you when it is your turn to make a comment.

March 31, 2016
Central Piedmont Community College, Merancas Campus
Auditorium
11930 Verhoeff Drive
Huntersville, NC 28078
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

April 5, 2016
Southwestern Community College
Auditorium
447 College Drive
Sylva, NC 28779
4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

April 6, 2016
Holiday Inn Express
1943 Blowing Rock Road
Boone, NC 28607
12 p.m. – 2 p.m.

April 6, 2016
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
Mission Health / A-B Tech Conference Center
340 Victoria Road
Asheville, NC 28801
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

April 7, 2016
Guilford County Health & Human Services
1203 Maple Street
Greensboro, NC 27405
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

April 8, 2016
Forsyth County Department of Public Health
Meeting Room 1 & 2
799 North Highland Avenue
Winston-Salem, NC 27102
2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

April 13, 2016
University of North Carolina-Wilmington
McNeill Hall Lecture Hall
601 S. College Road
Wilmington NC 28403
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

April 14, 2016
Greenville Convention Center
Emerald Ballroom
303 SW Greenville Boulevard
Greenville, NC 27834
2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

April 16, 2016
College of The Albemarle
AE 208
1208 N. Road Street
Elizabeth City, NC 27909
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

April 18, 2016
UNC-Pembroke
Moore Hall Auditorium
1 University Drive
Pembroke, NC 28372-1510
3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

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Emails from listeners: 

Brent:  Long story short... get the conservative cronys that are ruining our state out of office. They're willing to sacrifice their constituents for political points...

Kimberly of Jacksonville, NC:  I am one of the many people in NC who do not qualify for Medicaid and are left completely uninsured. I am a 23 year-old, single, underemployed female with no children. I have been working part time multiple jobs to support myself and earned below the federal poverty level before I was briefly employed full time for a couple months last year. Unfortunately, I was laid off in December and later informed that I was no longer eligible for Medicaid benefits because of the decision no to expand the program. 

It has been very straining not to be able to have health insurance. Even the coverage that I had when I did qualify for Medicaid was limited to Family Planning. Not being able to get help for dental work, emergence services, and other medical concerns is not a priority for myself or my peers it seems. How do we go about finding REAL healthcare?  Cathy:  I have worked all my life and had insurance through my work. When the Affordable Care Act came into being I have seen my premiums increase and my benefits go down. I now pay more for everything, especially for drugs and outpatient care.  I believe this is because the insurance companies are out of control.   I also think the federal government has gotten to involved in regulation of health.  The insurance government, hospitals and doctors office use it as an excuse.  I am tired of 15-minute appointments with doctors where the doctor spends 10 minutes entering things in the computer. 

Suzanne Dorsey:  In rural areas like Brunswick County, there is only one viable health care option: Blue Cross/Blue Shield NC

 When I compared my 4 person family 2 adults 2 children health care monthly rate to comparable plans in Virginia and South Carolina, NC BC/BS NC is 50% more expensive. When I compared my out-of-pocket costs to these same two states, I paid 1000% more for the same policy. BCBS and its health providers routinely bill under the “hospital” billing code causing routine tests to hit hospitalization deductible.  It would be nice to know if anybody in NC is looking into these two observations. As somebody in charge of a small business with less than 50 employees, my cost to provide staff with BCBS coverage is more than what staff would pay on the independent market.  Yet healthcare policy requires all or nothing participation by the employee and the employer.  

  • You can either opt in to our expensive plan or get nothing. 
  • I would like to provide something for those employees that are paying other rates elsewhere but policy does not allow this. 
  • Further since I offer group coverage those staff that were eligible for healthcare subsidies are no longer eligible.  

 NC needs to focus on helping individuals and small businesses in health care.  It seems to me that too many politicians are focused on making things terrible here in NC to demonstrate how bad Obamacare policy is.  It comes at the cost of business and individual payers. Stop playing politics with health care! 

Bo:  ...Not all of us are enamored with this government program.  My healthcare costs have more than doubled in the 2 years since it was activated.

2013       $5,500.00 cost of family insurance annually

2014       $9,300.00 cost of family insurance annually

2015       $11,200.00 cost of family insurance annually

That’s $5,700.00 a year out of the pockets of my family and not one thank you from the entitlement crowd.  This is just another failed government program that I and millions like me are forced to support.