JEFFREY HESS, BYLINE: I'm Jeffrey Hess in Jackson, Mississippi which is one of the 34 states letting the federal government take the lead in establishing a health insurance exchange. Heavy web traffic and software problems have made it nearly impossible to use the new web site since it opened last week.
MEREDITH STARK: Why I keep trying is because this is something we need.
The health insurance marketplaces are now open for enrollment but there's still a lot of confusion about how the exchanges work, what insurance plans are offered and who qualifies for tax credits and subsidies.
Starting October 1 people without health insurance, and those who buy their own insurance, can sign up to get coverage through the new federal health care exchanges.
The new programs have been covered extensively on NPR, but WWNO’s Eve Troeh sat down to get a few more details straight with Doug Wilkinson, the field coordinator for the Louisiana Healthcare Education Coalition, a non-partisan group. He started the conversation summarizing who’s eligible, and who’s not.
Two nonprofits based in Lafayette, La., and Lufkin, Texas, are among more than 120 to receive a one-year federal grant to help people shop for health insurance premiums and understand their subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. That grant is to train and hire full-time "navigators" who provide in-person education and enrollment assistance for the healthcare marketplace that opens Oct. 1.
Families USA, the Washington-based health care consumer advocacy group, says more than 353,000 Louisianans will be eligible for financial assistance to purchase premiums through the new health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.
Last month the Obama Administration pushed back the employee mandate under the Affordable Care Act by one year. Employers with 50 or more full-time workers now have until 2015 to either provide their workers with health insurance or face a penalty.
In states that are expanding Medicaid as part of the the new health law’s roll-out, businesses have more flexibility in deciding how to make sure their workers are covered. And though Louisiana is not participating, proponents of expanding Medicaid in the state see the delay of the employer mandate as a chance to rally some small business support.