BY TOM BUSSELBERG
LAYTON – It was a senior battle of harsh words, over the weekend, for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Mitt Romney entered the fray, front and center, accusing the President of lying about what the ACA can deliver. He was joined by plenty of other pundits and ordinary citizens, frustrated at not successfully being able to enroll in or look at health care plan options.
The situation is different for those using Utah’s Health Care Exchange, emphasized Patty Conner, director of the exchange.
Utah has been preparing for its health exchange since 2010, she said.
“We are not having the same problems as California, Oregon, or Washington,” among others, Conner said. She was a speaker at a Davis Chamber of Commerce summit Friday.
Utah is one of 26 states that said Obamacare is an unconstitutional mandate.
“Utah’s approach is very different,” Conner said.
Among key points of the Utah plan:
Ґ Employer shared responsibility is a key component. Employers with more than 50 employees who work 30 hours or more (considered fulltime) per week must offer a group employee plan.
Ґ Those working less than 30 hours a week can opt for an individual plan.
Ґ Employers with less than 50 full-time equivalent employees do not have to offer a group plan, but have that option.
Ґ The above employees, or anyone else, can sign up for their own health care coverage.
Of dozens of plans, there are options to cover almost all circumstances. Factors accounted for include income level and number of dependents.
Ґ Avenue H, which is the state’s health exchange, is tied to insurance company offerings. Insurance providers include Arches, tied to the current Altius plan. It has preferred medical providers such as MountainStar, which includes Lakeview Hospital and affiliated groups; SelectHealth, tied to Intermountain Healthcare, such as Bountiful Intermountain Clinic, LDS and Intermountain Medical Center; and United Healthcare Insurance.
Under the state’s plan, insurance premiums for each employee can be registered by their employee. Those funds will be deducted by the Utah Health Exchange office.
“It’s the employee making that decision on their health coverage,” Conner said.
This week, the Utah Health Exchange unveiled a new online enrollment process. It should take less than half an hour to complete, she said.
However, people can check the site for information and receive an online quote without registering, she said.
They’ll have a two-week enrollment period where no health application questions will be asked, Conner said.
“The biggest change is that this is a new process. But it’s designed not to be as hard,” she said.
Assistance in choosing plans is available, free of charge, for applicants.
“This has a huge impact on companies staying in business,” she said. Utah has 67,000 small businesses, with from one to dozens of employees.
“Around 50 percent offer coverage,” Conner said. For more information, visit AvenueH.com or contact a broker.