With six days to go until you can begin to explore the possibilities of health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, it's important to consider the following dates — October 1, when you can visit and explore health care coverage in the exchange in your state; January 1, when your choice of health care coverage becomes effective, and March 31, when the open enrollment period ends. So there is a six month period during which this important decision must be made.
To say that there is a lot of confusion about the new law and the exchange process is putting it mildly, especially in light of the efforts by members of the Congress to repeal the law or defund it.
However, a new report released September 25 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finds that in state after state consumers will see increased competition in the Health Insurance Marketplace leading to new and affordable choices for consumers.
According to the report, consumers will be able to choose from an average of 53 health plans in the marketplace, and the vast majority of consumers will have a choice of at least two different health insurance companies — usually more. Premiums nationwide will also be around 16 percent lower than originally expected, with about 95 percent of eligible uninsured living in states with lower than expected premiums — and that's before taking into account financial assistance.
"We are excited to see that rates in the Marketplace are even lower than originally projected," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "In the past, consumers were too often denied or priced-out of quality health insurance options, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act consumers will be able to choose from a number of new coverage options at a price that is affordable."
In less than a week, millions of Americans can shop for and purchase health insurance coverage in one place. They will be able to find out whether they qualify for premium assistance and compare plans side-by-side based on pricing, quality and benefits. No one can be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
Plans in the Marketplace will be categorized as either "gold," "silver" or "bronze," depending on the share of costs covered. Young adults will also have the option of purchasing a "catastrophic" plan, increasing their number of choices to 57 on average. About 95 percent of consumers will have a choice of two or more health insurance issuers, often many more. About 1 in 4 of these insurance companies is offering health plans in the individual market for the first time in 2014, a sign of healthy competition, according to the HHS report.
For more information on Marketplace coverage, you can go to HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 toll free (TTY: 1-885-889-4325) to speak with trained customer service representatives, with translation services available in 150 languages.