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By Jon D. Applebaum, CEO of Twin County Regional Healthcare
Over the past several months, buzz words like “health reform” and “insurance marketplaces” have filled the media. But what exactly do they mean and how do they impact you?
The Health Insurance Marketplace is a key part of the health reform law that will make health insurance more accessible to people across the country.
Think of the marketplace as an online travel site like Hotwire or Priceline, where people can compare, view and purchase various health insurance products that have been approved by their state and/or the federal government.
Everything is very transparent, and insurance plans must treat you fairly. They cannot deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Every plan must cover basic health services, including visits to the doctor, hospitalizations, maternity care and prescriptions.
Furthermore, the government is providing increased opportunities to lower the cost of health insurance, making it more affordable and providing low-cost options to many people.
So how do you learn more about the marketplace? There are seven simple things you can do now:
1. Learn about different types of health insurance. Through the marketplace, you’ll be able to choose a health plan that gives you the right balance of costs and coverage.
2. Make a list of questions you have before time to choose your health plan. For example, “Can I stay with my current doctor?” or “Can I use my local hospital?” or “Will this plan cover my health costs when I’m traveling?”
3. Make sure you understand how insurance works, including deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, co-payments, etc. You’ll want to consider these details while you’re shopping around.
4. Start gathering basic information about your household income. You may qualify for a break on the cost of your health insurance, so you’ll need income information to find out if you’re eligible for a discount.
5. Set your budget. There will be different types of health plans to meet a variety of needs and budgets, and breaking them down by cost can help narrow your choices.
6. Find out from your employer whether they plan to offer health insurance. This is especially important if you work for a small business.
7. Explore current options. You may be able to get help with insurance now, through existing programs or changes that are in effect already from the new health care law. Visit www.HealthCare.gov for information about health insurance for adults up to age 26, children in families with limited incomes (CHIP), and Medicare for people who are over 65 or have disabilities.
The best place for the latest, most accurate information on the marketplace is www.HealthCare.gov. Here you can get updates, learn about the application process and find out detailed information state by state.
Twin County Regional Healthcare will be providing resources about enrollment into the new marketplace in the weeks to come.
Health insurance has many benefits and undoubtedly helps keep people well and keeps our community healthy.
As we continue to learn more and prepare for the marketplace, Twin County Regional Healthcare is committed to keeping you informed.