Health care reform
The Basic Health Plan (BHP), created to help low- and moderate-income families gain access to health insurance, will not be implemented until 2015, the Obama administration announced in early February.
The BHP was originally scheduled to be available in 2014, to families and individuals who earn between 139% and 200% of the federal poverty level, and who would otherwise qualify to purchase coverage on the Health Insurance Exchanges. In the health care reform act, the BHP was envisioned as a way to reduce the cost of insurance for "highly price sensitive"1 consumers who make slightly too much to qualify for Medicaid, and as a way to coordinate and streamline coverage for those whose incomes swing in and out of the Medicaid limits. The federal government would pay 95% of the subsidy that such consumers could receive on the exchanges.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said it ran out of time to finish developing guidelines for the BHP, but expects to work with states that want to implement the program in 2015.2
The BHP has been controversial. Proponents say it is needed to serve a highly uninsured group, while others say it will undermine the state exchanges. As states decide whether to implement a BHP, they will have several challenges. The first will be designing coverage that improves continuity as people’s qualifications fluctuate for Medicaid, the BHP, and the state exchanges. Assessing BHPs financial viability and effect on the exchanges will also be complex.3
Employees and individuals who fall within the qualifying range (139%-200% of FPL) will have to wait until 2015 to access a BHP for affordable health insurance coverage.
Employers who do not offer group health insurance should be aware that their most vulnerable workers who would have been eligible for the Basic Health Program will not have access to this key insurance until sometime in 2015.