Retail News Breaks
Walgreens, Blue Cross promote ACA awareness
July 10th, 2013
DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. has teamed up with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) in a campaign to educate consumers about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health care reform law, in particular how to buy health coverage via the new health insurance exchanges.
Walgreens said Wednesday that the national campaign centers on a new website, LearnAboutReform.com, which provides consumers information about the new ways they will be able to buy health insurance and the new health benefits available to them.
The campaign also will include informational brochures and signage in Walgreens drug stores nationwide to encourage consumers to learn about health reform and the new exchanges, known as the Health Insurance Marketplace. Open enrollment in the exchanges kicks off Oct. 1.
It's estimated that starting in 2014 under the ACA, more than 30 million Americans previously lacking health insurance will be able to buy health plans through state insurance exchanges or get coverage via broader Medicaid eligibility. The complex law also brings new options and requirements for employers, changing how individuals and some small businesses buy coverage.
"Through this collaboration we hope the millions of Americans who will be entering the marketplace in October are more informed and better prepared," Brad Fluegel, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Walgreens, said in a statement. "There's a lot of confusion, a lot of questions, and it'll take a tremendous, collaborative effort to make sure people have the information they need to make informed choices."
Walgreens and BCBSA said LearnAboutReform.com will serve as a comprehensive guide to the health reform law. Features of the website include easy-to-understand explanations of what the law means for consumers; an explanation of the enrollment process and how the new Health Insurance Marketplace exchanges will work, and interactive links to a glossary of terms related to health reform.
In addition, the site will provide answers to frequently asked questions about eligibility for federal financial assistance, the "individual mandate" requirement for most Americans to purchase health insurance, and penalties for not buying insurance.
"The Affordable Care Act will expand access to health insurance for millions of Americans and broaden health benefits, but many Americans have had little experience purchasing health coverage and are confused about what the law means to them," noted Maureen Sullivan, senior vice president of strategic services and chief strategy officer at BCBSA. "Blue Plans have been working hard to help consumers navigate this new environment and the coverage options that are available to them. Our partnership with Walgreens is another example of our commitment to ensuring that all Americans have the tools they need to understand these changes and access affordable health insurance coverage that meets their needs."
In late June, the Obama administration relaunched the HealthCare.gov website and set up a 24/7 call center to help consumers better understand their health insurance choices and select appropriate coverage for when open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace begins in the fall.
Most Americans will be required to have health insurance by Jan. 1 or face tax penalties.
Last week, however, Obama administration said larger employers would receive another year to comply with the ACA mandate that they provide health insurance coverage for their workers or pay a penalty. In announcing the plan, the White House and the Treasury Department said the delay comes in response to complaints by businesses that they didn't have enough time to meet the complex requirements of the health reform law.
With the change, mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements under the ACA won't begin until Jan. 1, 2015, rather than in 2014 as initially called for under the law. The administration's announcement, though, didn't mention any potential changes to the consumer insurance mandate requirement or deadline.
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