By now, many of you have seen the Cover Oregon commercial that tries to make Oregonians aware of health insurance plans that will be available in 2014 (with Open Enrollment set to begin in October) under the state’s exchange, or marketplace. If you have not seen the advertisement, here it is:
What is Cover Oregon?
Cover Oregon is a central online location where the people of Oregon can shop for and compare health insurance plans through the state’s exchange, or marketplace. In addition, the site will assist potential customers with determining their eligibility for subsidies to make the insurance plans in the marketplace more affordable.
Gotcha. Now What is a Health Insurance Marketplace?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or as most people know it, Obamacare, outlined what are called health insurance exchanges. The terminology has been changed to marketplaces, but the idea is the same. With one stated goal of the Affordable Care Act being to help more people obtain medical insurance coverage, lawmakers wanted to create a simple way for customers to compare plans while eliminating as much confusion as possible. Enter the marketplaces.
The marketplaces will be set up by each state, but not all states are participating. Citizens of states that do not have a marketplace will be allowed to purchase insurance through a federal marketplace. Once set up, Americans will be allowed to go online to these exchanges, and compare health insurance plans. The plans will have the same benefits, just different levels of potential out of pocket expenses.
The plans will be called Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Platinum. The Platinum plan will have the least out of pocket exposure but will cost more than the other plans. Conversely, the Bronze plan will have the most out of pocket exposure but will cost less than the other plans.
Will These Exchanges Cost More than My Group or Individual Plan?
Maybe, maybe not. It is very hard to compare insurance plans on an apples-to-apples basis since there are so many variables that go into an insurance premium. If you look for plans at an online marketplace like Cover Oregon and you are not satisfied with the premium, you are still free to look for insurance elsewhere.
Will I Be Able To Get Financial Assistance for the Premiums?
Financial assistance will be available to people if they make less than certain thresholds. Individuals earning less than 400% of the federal poverty level will definitely be eligible for financial subsidies. The subsidies work like a tax credit, but if you cannot wait until tax time to receive your money then there are options available to get the help immediately.
Will Other States Have Sites Like Cover Oregon?
For states that have marketplaces, then yes, they will have an online site where their citizens can buy medical insurance. As time goes on, the sites will become easier to navigate and will truly be a one stop shop for finding solutions to your healthcare needs. There is just no guarantee that they will have as catchy a tune as Cover Oregon.