Preparing for the New Health Insurance Marketplace

By Natasha Robinson, MPCA Communications Specialist

A major part of the Affordable Care Act will be in place in less than a year, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has added new, helpful information to its website for individuals, families, and businesses.

Open enrollment in the new Health Insurance Marketplace begins on October 1, 2013, for coverage that is set to begin on January 1, 2014. The marketplace, or Health Insurance Exchange, will offer people a way to find coverage and easily compare plans and prices in one place. The system will also allow people to determine if they’re eligible for financial assistance. Michigan is working on plans for a federal-state partnership exchange.

“The Marketplace will offer much more than any health insurance website you’ve used before,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said in her blog. “Insurers will compete for your business on a level playing field, with no hidden costs or misleading fine print.”

The Department of Health and Human Services offers seven tips to get ready now for the next phase of health reform:

  1. Learn about different types of health insurance. Through the Marketplace, you’ll be able to choose a health plan that gives you the right balance of costs and coverage.
  2. Make a list of questions you have before it’s time to choose your health plan. For example, “Can I stay with my current doctor?” or “Will this plan cover my health costs when I’m traveling?”
  3. Make sure you understand how insurance works, including deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, copayments, etc. You’ll want to consider these details while you’re shopping around. Visit Insurance Basics to learn more about how insurance works.
  4. Start gathering basic information about your household income. Most people will qualify to get a break on costs, and you’ll need income information to find out how much you’re eligible for.
  5. Set your budget. There will be different types of health plans to meet a variety of needs and budgets, and breaking them down by cost can help narrow your choices.
  6. Find out from your employer whether they plan to offer health insurance, especially if you work for a small business.
  7. Explore current options. You may be able to get help with insurance now, through existing programs or changes that are in effect already from the new health care law. Use these resources to get information about health insurance for adults up to age 26, children in families with limited incomes (CHIP), and Medicare for people who are over 65 or have disabilities.

Michigan’s 35 Health Centers are on the front lines everyday providing quality, comprehensive, affordable primary and preventive care to more than 600,000 Michigan residents at 220 delivery sites across the state. The doors of Health Centers will remain open to everyone regardless of income level or insurance status. Click here to find a local Health Center.

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