Understanding and Using Healthcare Marketplace: One Woman’s Story
Image Credit: CBSNews.com / CBS Evening News
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Every day, WHNT News 19 hears from people worried about huge premium increases.
Tuesday evening, State Representative Laura Hall will hold a town hall at the Richard Showers Center to help people in that situation.
Doctors and civic leaders will be there to help people navigate the sign-up process of the Affordable Care Act.
Just understanding those changes could save you hundreds, or even thousands of dollars per year.
Here is one woman’s story about how the changes brought by the Affordable Care Act affected her.
“I received this letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield today, informing me that my plan that I’ve had for about a decade does not meet all the Affordable Care Act requirements,” said Linda Ross, a Blue Cross customer.
The letter came with other materials from Blue Cross Blue Shield. More importantly, it came with a price tag and a sinking feeling.
“I will have a $340 a month increase above my $683 monthly premiums right now. My total cost for this plan is $ 1,023. That’s double my mortgage payment,” said Ross.
The materials from Blue Cross Blue Shield say they will auto-enroll Ross into the $1,000 plan. It’s tough news to take when you’re making ends meet.
“Whether I wanted to or not, I was going to have to make some changes,” said Ross.
But with closer examination, those changes might come in the form of switching insurance.
WHNT took action and directed Ross to www.healthcare.gov, where she looked up other comparable plans.
Blue Cross Blue Shield says they’ll stick Ross in a $1,000 silver tier plan that isn’t eligible for government subsidy.
But looking on the marketplace, Ross found three other silver tier plans – all around $750, all eligible for subsidy.
“Wow,” said Ross.
It’s all she could manage when looking through the other plans. At the end of the day, she could even pay less for her insurance than what she was paying before.
It’s just a matter of being proactive and diligent.
In fact, most people who apply will qualify for lower costs based on their household size and income, according to healthcare.gov. The lower your income within the ranges shown in the chart to the right, the lower your premium costs will be.
Though the process to apply online for coverage is still going through some updates to be fixed, everyone has the option to browse through the plans available in their respective state and county without signing up for anything. You don’t even have to create an account!
To browse through plans and get an idea of what it available in your area, simply visit www.healthcare.gov and click “See Plans Now” on the homepage. You will be directed to answer a few general questions about what kind of coverage you are looking for and where you live. No personal information is required to browse the plans and prices.
The coverage plans are put into five categories: catastrophic, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum, and are based on how you and the plan expect to share the costs for healthcare.
It’s important to note that the prices shown once you answer the questions are pre-subsidy, meaning that most people who apply will pay lower premiums than what is actually shown. Households with yearly incomes up to about $46,000 for individuals or $94,000 for a family of 4 will qualify for lower costs.
If you enroll in coverage through the Healthcare Marketplace, coverage can begin on January 1. Open enrollment will end on March 31, 2014. As of October 22, there are 160 days left to enroll.