The new health care marketplaces – the new way to buy health insurance

The Affordable Care Act encourages insurance coverage for all Americans. Health Care Marketplaces are being developed by the states and the federal government. Individuals will be able to compare plans and prices as they shop for health insurance.

Many changes are on the horizon with the upcoming health care reforms. The new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, will require millions of Americans to shop for health insurance through what is being called an insurance exchange or insurance marketplace. Individuals will be able to go online to a website to view health insurance options, compare prices between plans, and purchase health insurance coverage. If you are covered by an employer, your health insurance coverage will continue through your employer and you will not have to pick a plan. Also, if you are covered by Medicare, you will not have to pick a new plan.

People who work for small employers with no health care coverage, people who are self-employed, or people who were denied coverage based upon a preexisting condition will need to seek coverage through the new marketplace. The April 2013 AARP bulletin said that with the new insurance exchange system, individuals will be able to find out online if they are eligible for Medicaid or eligible for a tax credit subsidy to help pay for their insurance premiums.

States are currently deciding if they are going to run the marketplaces, or if the federal government is going to run the marketplace, or if they will create a partnership between the state and federal government. If the federal government runs the marketplace, it will offer a menu of all qualified private insurance plans. If the state decides to run the marketplace, it may narrow down the options offered by companies by negotiating with the insurance companies for a few defined options. If a partnership is formed between the state and the federal government, the state will select the plans that will be offered and the federal government will set up and run the marketplace with the plans selected by the state. As a consumer, you will have access to healthcare coverage you may not have had in the past, effective January 1, 2014.

To learn more about the new insurance marketplace, go to www.HealthCare.gov which is the governmental website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which explains the new Affordable Care Act.

For questions about health insurance and the Affordable Care Act, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office, which are located in 82 counties across the state of Michigan.

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