Alabama Health Insurance
The Affordable Care Act was designed to provide a solution to the high population of uninsured residents in Alabama and other states. With this law, it is easier to purchase individual policies and it provides financial assistance for certain people. The ACA also prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals based on pre-existing conditions.
Despite its many benefits, the Affordable Care Act rollout in Alabama has not gone as smoothly as other states. Alabama decided not to establish its own health care exchange and is not expanding Medicaid coverage. However, the ACA may undergo further changes to improve its accessibility for Alabama residents.
What is a health insurance marketplace?
Under the Affordable Care Act, many states have formed insurance exchanges where customers can compare multiple health policies and find the most affordable option. These exchanges are not insurance providers in their own right but instead act as a comparison site that displays all available options. As of the beginning of 2014, 27 states are using the federally facilitated exchange and seven others are partnering with the government to create one. The rest set up their own exchanges.
Alabama residents must shop for health insurance policies through the federal insurance exchange at HealthCare.gov. When you create an account for the website during open enrollment, you will need to enter some basic information about where you live, your income and the size of your family. You will then be directed to a listing of available policies in your area and informed as to whether you’ll qualify for a health insurance subsidy to help with the cost of insurance.
Do I qualify for a health insurance subsidy?
Subsidies will typically be based on poverty level limits, and Medicare and CHIP qualification will be based on recent limits. Individuals with an annual income between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level — between $11,490 and $45,960 — may qualify for a subsidy. A family of four may qualify with an income between $23,550 and $94,200.
Health insurance companies selling policies in Alabama
Blue Cross Blue Shield provides around 90 percent of all private health insurance sold in Alabama. Blue Cross Blue Shield and Humana are the only companies participating in the exchange.
Health insurance for low-income families
Twenty-seven states plus Washington D. C. chose to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income families as part of the Affordable Care Act, and three states are still debating expansion. Alabama is one of the 21 states that chose not to expand Medicaid availability. This means coverage exists for children in low-income families, but Medicaid is not available to low-income adults in Alabama.
Children in households with a monthly income below $1,350 can receive Medicaid benefits. They may also qualify for CHIP, or Children’s Health Insurance Program, if their families have monthly incomes below $2,987. Pregnant women, parents and other adults do not qualify for Medicaid in Alabama unless they earn less than $124 a month.
Alabama health and coverage statistics
Alabama population (2013): 4,833,722
Population 65 and older (2012): 14.5 percent
Life expectancy (2010): 75.4 years
Number of Medicaid beneficiaries (2012): 781,500
Number of Medicare beneficiaries (2012): 747,300
Overall state health ranking: 47
Sources: Kaiser Family Foundation, U.S. Census Bureau, America’s Health Rankings 2014 report.
Alabama health insurance resources
Department of Public Health: http://www.adph.org/
Alabama Department of Insurance: http://www.aldoi.gov/
Alabama Department of Senior Services: http://www.alabamaageline.gov/
Kaiser Family Foundation: http://kff.org/tag/alabama/