Imagine shopping for health insurance the way you shop for clothes at the mall. You could see your choices, get answers to your questions, and select the health plan that fits you and your budget best.
That’s what you’ll get when you shop for health insurance on an exchange.
Established through the Affordable Care Act, exchanges are state-based* marketplaces designed to make it easier for people to purchase health insurance. Small employers will be able to go through exchanges to offer insurance to their employees as well.
Simplifying your choice
When health care reform takes full effect in January 2014, most people will be required to carry health insurance. That means if you don’t currently have health coverage, you’ll have to get it or risk being fined.
Exchanges bring together information about all of your health insurance options in one online location. They allow you to compare your choices, learn if you’re eligible for public health insurance programs or tax credits that will make coverage more affordable, and join the plan of your choosing.
You can enroll in an exchange starting in October 2013.
How they can help
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, exchanges will perform a number of valuable functions. For instance, they will:
- Certify that a health plan provides key benefits, follows established limits concerning deductibles and co-pays, and meets other requirements.
- Provide information on all of the plans offered in a standardized format.
- Assign ratings to each plan based on quality and price.
- Operate a website and toll-free phone number where you can get information on the plans and purchase them if you qualify.
A good buy
Having health insurance is a tremendous benefit. But finding the right plan takes time. Exchanges will help make the process easier. And that may make good health easier to achieve and maintain.
You can learn more about exchanges and health care reform at www.healthcare.gov or visit yakimamemorial.org/patients-and-visitors-insurance-exchange-information.asp.
* Some states have elected not to set up an exchange. In those states, the federal government will operate the exchange.