Sunday, June 23, marks 100 days until the first day that people will be able to enroll in an affordable health insurance plan through the new insurance marketplaces in every state.
On October 1, American families will be able to sign up for new health insurance options with coverage that will begin on January 1, 2014.
Many moderate-income families will be eligible to receive premium tax credits to help pay for a private insurance plan, and lower-income families will be eligible for Medicaid coverage. Consumer-friendly applications in health insurance marketplaces will determine eligibility for both premium tax credits and Medicaid, allowing health care consumers to find affordable health coverage through one simple process.
Under the Affordable Care Act, new health insurance marketplaces will help health care consumers find the plan that is best for them. The marketplaces will provide clear, easy-to-understand plan information so that consumers can make an apples-to-apples comparison of their coverage options. Consumers will also be able to see up front how much each plan costs and what benefits are included.
All plans available in the marketplaces will include new consumer protections that limit high out-of-pocket costs in the form of deductibles and copayments. The new marketplaces will provide consumers with competitively priced insurance plans, saving them money and making high-quality care more accessible.
Nearly 26 million Americans will be eligible for help paying for their health insurance in the marketplaces. Premium tax credits will be available to individuals and families with annual incomes up to 400 percent of poverty, which translates to about $46,000 per year for an individual and about $94,000 per year for a family of four. The tax credits will ensure that low- and middle-income individuals and families will not have to spend more than a set percentage of their income on health insurance.
The amount the tax credits are worth will be determined on a sliding scale based on income, so people who have lower incomes will receive a bigger tax credit than those with higher incomes. Once the size of the credit is determined, it can be used toward the purchase of any private plan available in the marketplaces.
As we embark on the next 100 days, it is essential that states work to inform their residents of the opportunities available. For more information on health insurance marketplaces and enrollment, I invite you to check out healthcare.gov.
This web site provides standardized plan summaries, along with checklists for individuals, families, and small business to prepare for open enrollment on October 1. Consumers can also sign up for email and text message updates, giving them the opportunity to learn even more about the new coverage options.