by AARP North Carolina
Attention shoppers: If you are in the market for an affordable health insurance plan because you are uninsured or had to buy your insurance in the individual market, there’s a “grand opening” you simply can’t miss. You won’t even have to camp out overnight in a long line next to a Big Box store to get the merchandise you want: health coverage that suits you and your family.
It’s called the Health Insurance Marketplace, and it’s the next major piece of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” Think of the Marketplace as a virtual department store filled with health insurance choices, just for you. The shopping begins on October 1, when the Marketplace opens for enrollment.
If you’re like most consumers, the last thing on your mind when you venture into a store to shop is politics. So, you can start by tuning out the political chatter that surrounds the implementation of the health care law and get down to what you need to do: pick out a health insurance plan that meets the needs of you and your family.
You’ll want to do your homework before you visit the Marketplace. It is important to get this purchase just right, and this means having good information. You want coverage that reflects what’s important to you, comfortably meets your health care needs, and fits your budget.
You want to be a smart shopper.
When Americans shop for their families, they look for value. They also look for choice, the key driver of consumer decision-making. The Health Insurance Marketplace is built around this fundamental idea, choice. It is set up to simplify your search for health coverage by gathering all of the plan choices available in your area in one place. Whenever you’re ready to shop in the Marketplace, you’ll be able to compare different insurance plans side by side.
The health care law created a new mandated market for the uninsured. This means health insurance companies are competing for your business, offering plans that are required to cover the essentials – the important benefits like doctor visits, emergency care, prescriptions, and preventive care. It’s a shopper’s market where sellers want to make it as easy as possible for buyers to get what they need.
If you are an uninsured consumer, you’re in charge here; the choices are yours.
We already know this model – a marketplace offering a range of insurance choices – works. Just ask a park ranger – one of the millions of federal government employees who have participated in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEBH) since 1960. The FEBH is a health insurance marketplace, a very successful one. Neither consumer confusion nor product complexity is a problem for participants in the FEBH. An easy-to-use platform and quality customer assistance give shoppers the confidence to make the right choice.
The same goes for the new Marketplace. Help will be available- online, in person, and by phone. Information will be presented in simple, consumer-friendly language. And for the first time, financial assistance will be available. Depending on your income, you may have access to even lower-cost plans. Best of all, when you’re done shopping, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with being covered.
Think about it this way: the opportunity to purchase affordable health insurance is one of the most important shopping events of the year. There are lots of resources out there to guide you but at the end of the day, it’s on you to make the best health care decision for you and your family. The Marketplace will provide an easier way to do just that.
Health coverage is now within reach for millions of Americans. For practical, personalized information on how the law affects you and your loved ones, explore the interactive tool at www.HealthLawAnswers.org or in Spanish at – www.MiLeyDeSalud.org. And to learn more about the law’s provisions, go to www.HealthLawFacts.org.