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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Open enrollment for health insurance deadline Sunday

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jan 27, 2016 9:15 AM
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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, January 27, 2016:

There could be a crush of Americans signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act as the open enrollment deadline approaches this Sunday, January 31.  At least that's the hope of the Obama Administration.  The law was designed to reduce the number of uninsured and it has in the first three years the healthcare exchanges have been available.  Another component though was that more people were needed to enroll in order to keep costs down.  Critics point out that healthcare cost still have gone up.

Young people, who are uninsured, are being encouraged to sign up for insurance.  Many were weighing whether to purchase a plan or pay a fine if they go without insurance.  The fines increase this year to $695 for an adult and $347 per child up to $2,500 or 2.5% of family income, whichever is greater. 

We're also marking a year since Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf expanded Medicaid for low income individuals and agreed to accept money from the federal government to do so.

Appearing on Wednesday's Smart Talk to answer questions about health insurance and Medicaid are Pennsylvania's Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller and Lynn Keltz, a health insurance navigator.

Need help from Insurance Marketplace Navigators? Call 1-855-274-5626 (toll free) to make an appointment or speak with a Navigator. 

This program is part of WITF's Transforming Health project covering health news and in depth analysis of today's evolving Health Care landscape. Visit us at TransformingHealth.org.  Transforming Health is an educational partnership of WITF, Penn State Hershey Medical Center and WellSpan Health.

To learn more about health insurance in Pennsylvania, explore the online Transforming Health tool Getting Covered.  It's an easy-to-use guide for understanding year three of Pennsylvania's new healthcare system, how to access health insurance, and how to make the most of your plan to ensure positive health outcomes for you and your family.

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Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller and Lynn Keltz

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-27 09:33

    Stuart emails:

    Hello. At the end of 2015 my health ins. stopped offering the policy I had for years.
    The only reason I have health ins. is in case I get run over by a truck or get a horrible disease. I did get on Healthcare.gov, found a policy and tried to purchase. It said I did not make enough money and wanted to put me on medicaid. I don't want medicaid. They do not cover all medicines and i couldn't keep my regular doctor. For instance, if I get hepatitis , medicaid in PA will only cover the round of drugs to cure hepatitis if you start to have liver damage. In the mean time hepatitis can give you cancer before it damages your liver. So even though I would qualify for a tax credit I can't get one. That leaves me getting insurance close to what I had before but it now costs me $100 more a month. I'm 46 and very healthy.

    Any idea of my options that doesn't involve medicaid or cost me $400 a month?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-27 10:02

    Mike in Schaefferstown emails:

    Your topic this morning is of special interest to me as I am an independent insurance agent. I have dealt with the “Obamacare” fiasco for the past several years. The law and its ‘mandates’ are a topic for another show!
    I am one who could not keep my coverage several years ago as it was not compliant. I had to find new coverage several years ago. Rates for my wife & I increased 15% the first year, 20% last year and 22% this year…with a deductible increasing from $3,400 to $9,000! Plus our maximum out-of-pocket has increased to over $12,000 in addition to my deductible and premiums! I am blessed/cursed with income that does not qualify me for subsidies and am paying the full premium myself! What will happen when premiums increase to the point that they become unaffordable…or insurers decide to pull out of the market and not offer coverage…or insurers keep merging?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-27 10:02

    Dana emails:

    Good Morning, I have two questions:

    One reason for bankruptcy was health care costs,since more are insured,has there been a decrease in health care related bankruptcies?

    If so ,I would believe that's a positive outcome from the ACA. Also,emergency rooms always have to treat people.

    The people that don't want health care ,are they still allowed to be treated at ERs,in a way I think it's unfair for ERs to treat these people since they opted out of "any" coverage.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-27 10:03

    Bradley from Hanover emails:

    An earlier question about the coverage gap was not answered by the panel. I'd like to know for a Pennsylvania family of 2, what is both the Maximum and minimum income needed to qualify for Obamacare??

    Please answer this.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-27 10:05

    Jim in Camp Hill emails:

    I am not sure where others are looking for their insurance, but I have not found the same premium and coverage issues that I'm hearing on the show. I have been on the ACA since January 2014, my premiums have stayed about the same ($525/mo.), my office copay is $10, most prescriptions are $3, and my deductible is $2000.


  • LisaK img 2016-01-28 12:03

    I believe in the intent of the ACA, but it's implementation has been an absolute disaster! My applying for benefits in 2014 took six months and an appeal. When filing taxes for 2014, I was forced to use the more expensive version of the tax preparation software to have access to the schedule forms to claim the subsidy that I received in 2014. I then paid a tax on that subsidy. Coming into 2015, my premium was increased to a less than affordable level. When I returned to the Marketplace to shop for a more affordable plan, there was another person attached to my profile. For a year I was unable to get that other, unknown person removed from my profile. In also applying and shopping for new benefits, I was forced to Medicaid, coverage I did not want so I never completed the application for Medicaid benefits. I spent 2015 uninsured because of these issues. Come into 2016, I was finally able to get that other person removed from my profile but found policies on the Marketplace still not so affordable. I was no longer eligible for a subsidy since I now have a job. I am now very minimally covered by a policy through my employer, but it is very minimal coverage.

    I have had great hopes and dreams for this Affordable Care Act that it would rein in charges by insurance companies and the health care industry, but I was so naive and WRONG! With all of the horror stories that persist, this is not the godsend for the American people, but still a boon for the insurance industry. I almost feel I would be better off banking what I might pay in premium and paying the penalty.

  • LisaK img 2016-01-28 14:41

    I believe in the intent of the ACA, but it's implementation has been an absolute disaster! My applying for benefits in 2014 took six months and an appeal. When filing taxes for 2014, I was forced to use the more expensive version of the tax preparation software to have access to the schedule forms to claim the subsidy that I received in 2014. I then paid a tax on that subsidy. Coming into 2015, my premium was increased to a less than affordable level. When I returned to the Marketplace to shop for a more affordable plan, there was another person attached to my profile. For a year I was unable to get that other, unknown person removed from my profile. In also applying and shopping for new benefits, I was forced to Medicaid, coverage I did not want so I never completed the application for Medicaid benefits. I spent 2015 uninsured because of these issues. Come into 2016, I was finally able to get that other person removed from my profile but found policies on the Marketplace still not so affordable. I was no longer eligible for a subsidy since I now have a job. I am now very minimally covered by a policy through my employer, but it is very minimal coverage.

    I have had great hopes and dreams for this Affordable Care Act that it would rein in charges by insurance companies and the health care industry, but I was so naive and WRONG! With all of the horror stories that persist, this is not the godsend for the American people, but still a boon for the insurance industry. I almost feel I would be better off banking what I might pay in premium and paying the penalty.

  • tim img 2016-02-03 04:32

    hope that everyone get insured and they deliver services which are guaranteeing. regards http://nerdypickuplines.com