The Pelican State offers Marketplace plans from four companies in 2021. If you miss open enrollment, you can still enroll if you have a qualifying life event.
Louisiana Health Insurance Overview
If you’re looking for low-cost health insurance, Louisiana has public and private options to meet your needs. More than a quarter of the population has coverage through the publicly-funded Medicaid program.1 Among those enrolled in private Obamacare plans, nine in 10 get subsidies to lower their monthly premiums.2
Here’s a summary of Louisiana’s health insurance market.
What You Need to Know
Four insurance carriers offer individual and family plans for the 2021 Open Enrollment Period.
Low- to moderate-income households can apply for Obamacare subsidies or Medicaid.
Short-term health insurance is another option if you’re having a coverage gap between jobs or before Medicare eligibility.
Louisiana and the Affordable Care Act
One of the most significant provisions of the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) was allowing states to expand Medicaid to low-income adults without children.
Nearly 446,000 childless adults in Louisiana gained coverage since the state accepted Medicaid expansion in 2015.3
Louisiana Health Insurance for Individuals, Families, and Self-Employed Entrepreneurs
ACA health insurance in Louisiana is available to individuals and families. If you’re self-employed and have no employees, you qualify for individual coverage.
You can choose from any metal plan (bronze, silver, gold, or platinum) available in your area. Policies cover a percentage of your healthcare costs. For instance, bronze plans pay the least (60%) for covered care but have cheaper monthly premiums. Platinum plans, on the other hand, pay for 90% of covered costs but have the highest premiums.
All metal plans provide major medical coverage that includes essential health benefits, such as prescription drug coverage, outpatient services, and free preventive care. Plans are also required to offer dental and vision benefits to children.
Enrolling in Obamacare guarantees that you can’t be denied a policy because of your health. Plans must also cover any preexisting conditions.
We cover how to enroll in Obamacare below.
Louisiana Health Insurance Marketplace Enrollment
Louisiana has a federally-facilitated marketplace. So, residents use Healthcare.gov to enroll in Obamacare plans. Nearly 88,000 people signed up during the 2020 Open Enrollment Period (OEP), which ended on December 18, 2019.4 The OEP usually ends on December 15 but was extended last year.
The 2021 Open Enrollment Period begins on November 1, 2020 and ends December 15, 2020 for 2021 coverage.
Outside of the OEP, you can only enroll if you have a qualifying life event such as marriage or childbirth.
More Time to Enroll
Louisiana residents who didn’t sign up for health insurance during open enrollment can still do so. The federal government reopened enrollment due to the coronavirus on the federal Marketplace from February 15, 2021 through May 15, 2021.
Health Insurance Companies in Louisiana
- CHRISTUS Health Plan Louisiana6
- HMO Louisiana
- Louisiana Health Service & Indemnity Company (aka Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Louisiana)7
- Vantage Health Plan
How Much Does Health Insurance Cost in Louisiana?
Louisiana health insurance premiums for Marketplace plans are higher in 2020 than the previous year.
Here’s a look at Louisiana premiums rates from 2019 to 2020:
- Average lowest-cost bronze premium: $376 in 2020; $341 in 2019
- Average lowest-cost silver premium: $467 in 2020; $417 in 2019
- Average lowest-cost gold premium: $571 in 2020; $523 in 2019
Obamacare Subsidies for Low-Income Louisianans
You qualify for subsidies if you make between $12,760 and $52,040 per year as a single person in 2020 (100% to 400% of the federal poverty level). Subsidies (or premium tax credits) reduce your monthly payments on Marketplace plans.
Word of Advice
Compare all your Louisiana health insurance options so you can pick the right coverage for your needs and budget.
Medicaid for Low-Income Louisiana Adults and Children
Consequently, a sizable percentage (28%) of the population have Medicaid. About 1.26 million residents enrolled as of October 2019. This includes one in five adults under 65 and one in two children.11
You qualify for Medicaid in Louisiana if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or get help through the state’s Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program (FITAP).
Others who may qualify include:
- Children under 19: Coverage is provided through Louisiana’s children’s health insurance program called LaCHIP
- Low-income parents of children under 19
- Pregnant women
- Blind adults and those with disabilities
- Childless adults under 65 who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL)
- Low-income individuals who receive Medicare (typically those 65 and older)
Louisiana has different income limits to qualify for Medicaid. For example, parents, pregnant women, and childless adults can make up to $17,609 per year for a single person in 2020 (138% of the FPL)12. Meanwhile, seniors and people with disabilities can earn up to $9,442 a year for an individual in 2020 (74% of the FPL).13
Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Programs
The Pelican State offers two programs for uninsured children under 19: the Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program (LaCHIP) and the LaCHIP Affordable Plan. Both programs offer the same benefits, which include hospital care, doctor visits, vaccines, and prescription drug coverage.
LaCHIP is available at no monthly cost to eligible children from low-income families. The income limit is up to $4,738 for a family of four or 217% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Children whose parents earn too much will instead qualify for the LaCHIP Affordable Plan. The income limit increases to $5,568 for a family of four (255% of the FPL). The plan charges a $50 monthly premium per household. However, there are no monthly premiums if at least one child is an Alaskan Native or a member of a federally-recognized Native American tribe.
Louisiana Medicare for Seniors and Younger Adults With Disabilities
Medicare is a federal government health insurance program generally for people 65 and older. But younger adults with disabilities can also qualify. In Louisiana, eight out of every 10 Medicare enrollees qualify due to age.14
Roughly 868,000 Louisianans are enrolled in Medicare. The majority (66%) get benefits directly through the federal government’s Original Medicare program. The rest get coverage from private Medicare Advantage plans. Both options include Part A hospital and Part B medical insurance. But Medicare Advantage offers extra benefits, such as Part D prescription drug coverage.
Original Medicare offers limited drug coverage. So many Louisiana beneficiaries (about 351,000 in 2018) buy a separate Part D plan. These plans are sold by private insurers.
Private companies also sell Medicare Supplement plans (called Medigap) to Original Medicare enrollees. Policies help pay some to all of your covered out-of-pocket costs, including copayments and deductibles.
Louisiana Short-Term Health Insurance If You’re In Between Jobs or Have a Gap in Coverage
Many life events can leave you in a coverage gap. Transitioning to a new job or losing coverage through a spouse’s or parent’s health plan are some of the reasons.
You can get short-term health insurance in Louisiana from 60 to 184 days.15 Short-term health plans offer benefits for things like doctor’s visits and emergency care. But they’re not the same as ACA-qualified plans that provide comprehensive coverage. This usually makes the monthly price cheaper. But you may be denied a policy due to your health history.
That’s why you should compare all your Louisiana health insurance options. Doing so can help you choose the right coverage for your needs and budget.