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A Conversation With … Kate Conn

Certified Application Counselor Manager for Cover Missouri

Posted online

What is Cover Missouri?
When the Affordable Care Act started, the Cover Missouri coalition was formed. It was just a way for us to come together to create a greater strength in reaching people. (The health care law) was a brand new thing, and it created confusion. So it helped to have people across the state and in our area to troubleshoot and figure out the best way to get things done.

How is Cover Missouri funded? Your offices are housed at CoxHealth, but are you also affiliated with Mercy Springfield Communities?
Missouri Foundation for Health funds our current grant. They’ve funded our grant for the whole project. We do partner with Mercy. They are part of the Cover Missouri coalition. The CoxHealth team here, we’re the hub leaders of southwest Missouri. I am employed by CoxHealth but paid by Missouri Foundation for Health.

What percentage of Missourians are uninsured and how has that changed since the health care law was signed into law?
The uninsured rate in Missouri before the ACA was about 14.5 percent. As of 2017, it was 10.5 percent, [according to the Kaiser Family Foundation].

What’s changing with the health care law next year?
The law itself has not changed; just the penalty has been removed. Other than that, everything is running as it always has [with the health care law]. Subsidies are still available to help people pay for their monthly premiums. Cost-sharing benefits are available, which helps lower premiums, co-pays and out-of-pocket maximums. Consumers are still seeing the same benefits.

How do you predict this will affect health insurance marketplace enrollment?
We weren’t sure what to expect because there certainly have been people that we’ve helped who really are only getting the insurance to avoid the penalty. This is going into the sixth year of the Affordable Care Act, so we’re really hoping that by now people have seen and experienced the value of having health insurance and it’s worth it to them now even though they aren’t going to be penalized for not having it. In our office, so far, we’ve enrolled 180 people, just between three of us, in the past couple of weeks. We’ve definitely been busy.

How many Missourians have health coverage through the marketplace?
We don’t have any updated information for how many have enrolled in this open enrollment, but from last year’s open enrollment there’s about 249,000.

What is the average cost of health care to Missourians through the marketplace?
Everyone pays a different price. Depending on income and household size, that will depend on what amount of subsidy they get. I’ve signed people up for $20 plans; I’ve signed people up for $350 plans. For the most part, under $100.

Do you work with businesses to help sign up employees?
Probably about four to six a year, we go in and do open enrollment. Some have five employees; some have 45 employees. They’re tough to get into. We work with Small Business Majority, and attended some of their events, and have done education with them and the business owners who are involved with them. We always try to emphasize the importance of healthy employees. A healthy employee equals a more efficient employee.

Kate Conn can be reached at kate.conn@coxhealth.com.

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