In the absence of Congressional intervention, a key provision of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) will go live on October 1, 2013. The Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) opens in less than two weeks and many people, myself included, have more questions than answers at this point. The good news is that there are several great tools and websites out there to help consumers learn more about the HIX.
If you want to learn more about the Affordable Care Act and how it may affect you, personally, visit Healthcare.gov. Although there are a variety of websites out there that provide general Obamacare information, the Healthcare.gov website is the most straightforward and comprehensive site that I’ve found.
This infographic from Bankrate.com explains how state-run health care exchanges will work including information about the four coverage levels offered to consumers, an introduction to how the exchanges will be run, where to go for help and more.
An online subsidy calculator is available for public use on The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation’s website. After answering a few basic questions about their household, consumers can find out if they qualify for a government healthcare subsidy. Families that earn up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which was $94,200 for a family of four in 2013, may qualify for subsidies.
Plans offered in the Health Insurance Exchange marketplace will be coded by coverage level: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. But, what does each level mean? Obviously platinum is the best coverage option but consumers need to understand how it varies from other levels in order to make an informed decision. In this article, WebMD.com breaks down the coverage levels in detail.
One of the more confusing aspects of the health insurance exchange marketplace is that some states are creating new exchanges, some states are working on partnership exchanges and other states are defaulting to the federal exchange. Thankfully the Kaiser Family Foundation has also created a comprehensive database of state health insurance marketplace profiles including links to each state’s specific HIX website.
The health insurance marketplace is new to the millions of Americans that will be choosing coverage in the coming years and like all things new, there will be some growing pains. Hopefully these online resources help you better understand this provision of the Affordable Care Act.