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Shopping for Health Insurance: New Coverage, New Market

The first major component of the Affordable Care Act  will go into effect next week, when the online health insurance marketplace opens on Oct.1.

Despite current legislation that passed through the House to defund the Affordable Care Act, state and federal health insurance marketplaces are still on track to open.

The health insurance marketplace is a provision of the Affordable Care Act, ACA, that creates an online marketplace for individuals and small businesses to purchase health insurance plans.

Health Online Insurance Marketplace

“Starting in 2014, all health plans must offer essential health benefits. But the only way to get lower costs based on income is through the Marketplace,” stated the federal health insurance marketplace website, www.healthcare.gov.

Individuals; who do not have health insurance, who previously did not qualify for health insurance, who are unemployed or who are students, will be able to purchase specialized health insurance on the online health insurance market.

The website home page for the online health insurance marketplace.

The website home page for the online health insurance marketplace.

Healthcare.gov will also help individuals determine the best health insurance plan for them based on income levels and health coverage needs, and inform people if they qualify for medicaid or medicare benefits.

The Affordable Care Act left the creation and management of these new health insurance markets in the hands of the state governments. If a state chooses not to create a health insurance marketplace its will become part of the federal government run marketplace.

Health Insurance Plan in Georgia

Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal, opted out of creating a state-run insurance marketplace, turning over control of Georgia’s health insurance marketplace to the federal government.

The new marketplace is expected to provide health insurance for 900,000 Georgia residents, reported the Atlanta Journal Constitution. These citizens will use the federal healthcare.gov marketplace to compare and purchase different healthcare plans.

Insurance coverage from plans purchased on the new marketplace will go into effect in January 2014.

Insurance companies will have to spend more to cover the increase in number of people with health insurance plans and the number of people with preexisting health conditions that now qualify for equal coverage.  To cover additional cost many insurance companies will increase their premiums.

Experts predict that though there will be a large increase in the number of people who qualify for health insurance, many of these people will not know how to navigate the new health insurance marketplace. In response to the confusion that health insurance reform has created, there is a demand for advisers to help people navigate through this new system.

The Atlanta AP reported that Georgia will receive $3.8 million to hire people to help individuals navigate the new health insurance market.

The Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation and the University of Georgia’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences and Cooperative Extension Service will receive funds from the grant to train navigators. These navigators will serve as counselors to Georgia residents to help them in understanding the new health insurance marketplace.

Follow-up Report Oct. 21. 

After the opening of HealthCare.gov, the website experienced multiple technical malfunctions that prevented many people from completing applications or making purchases on the online marketplace.  Officials reported more than 19 million people have logged on to the website and close to 500,000 people have filled out applications through both the federal and state-run online marketplace sites, but they are not releasing numbers on the number of people who have successfully purchased a health insurance plan through the website. 

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