Health Care Exchanges Open October 1

The federal Affordable Care Act -- derided by Republicans as "Obamacare" -- is the biggest change in the American health care system since Medicare and Medicaid took effect in the 1960s.

But 10 months before open enrollment begins, consumers lack information about the health care exchanges the new law creates in every state. Those with the most to gain are unfortunately least aware of the available coverage. If this consumer information gap persists, it could compromise the program launch this fall.

The exchanges, which will function as health care marketplaces, will open on October 1, allowing families and individuals to shop online for private health plans comparable to the ones offered by major employers. Counselors and translators will be available at call centers and at local community centers.

Premiums for middle-class households will be government-subsidized, with low-income people being referred to safety net programs.

Once you're enrolled in a plan, you can no longer be turned down or charged more due to gender or a pre-existing health condition.  Middle-aged and older people nearing retirement can be charged no more than three times what younger people pay, as compared to today, when they're paying six to seven times more.

Coverage takes effect in the exchanges starting Jan. 1, 2014, when virtually everyone in the country will be required by law to have health insurance or face fines.

Some people, like smokers, will pay financial penalties in the new markets.

Even with government subsidies, many people could end up paying more for health insurance in the exchanges, but they'll be getting better coverage than that currently offered under individual plans.  

One state, Massachusetts, currently has such an exchange.  In business for six years, the Health Connector, created under the health overhaul plan passed by former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, enrolls about 240,000 Massachusetts residents, and has gotten generally positive reviews.

The article, the first of two, from Yahoo News.

1 comment:

Nicholas James said...

Yeah "Obamacare" is surely the biggest change in health care system of United States, smoking people will definitely find it very frustrating to pay high premium rates because of this habit.

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