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Obamacare marketplaces are open: How to apply

You don't have to rush to sign up just yet, but reviewing this journalist's experience will make the application process a little easier.

By MSN Money producer Oct 1, 2013 7:27PM

This post comes from Karen Datko at partner site Money Talks News.

MoneyTalksNews.com

 

Today's the day many of the uninsured and self-employed have been waiting for. They can apply for health insurance on an online state marketplace and likely become eligible for subsidies to help pay for the premiums – due to the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

 

Insurance money © Comstock ImagesWe've done our best to prepare you for this. Now we're going to walk you through the step-by-step process of how it actually works.

 

Because I live in Montana, I'll share my experience on the Montana marketplace, which is actually administered by the federal government. Some states are running their own. (Businesses with 50 or fewer employees can also buy health insurance on a state marketplace.)

 

All of the marketplaces provide online access to compare and purchase health insurance policies offered by major insurance companies as well as some nonprofits and cooperatives. The beauty of these marketplaces is that they organize your options and make shopping for insurance a less vexing experience.

 

But keep in mind that my experience will be somewhat different from yours. Each state marketplace has its own offerings. And the cost for insurance plans will vary based on which type of plan you pick, your age, where you live and whether you smoke. Also, the subsidies, in the form of a tax credit applied directly to your monthly premiums, will vary based upon your income. Those who make more than $45,960 ($94,200 for a family of four) will not be eligible.

 

Also note: If your employer is providing health care to you next year through a work-based group plan, you'll likely have no interest in this – unless you want to help an uninsured family member find the right insurance plan. Also, if you already have a government health insurance plan, such as Medicare or Medicaid, you're already covered.

 

I'm ready to apply 
 
As a guide, we'll compare The Washington Post's preview of how the marketplaces will work with my actual experience today.

 

First, you go to HealthCare.gov, where you can create an account and be directed to your state's insurance marketplace. Then you'll be asked to provide some personal information to prove you are who you say you are, like your Social Security number and date of birth.

 

My results: After several unsuccessful attempts to access my marketplace, I finally got in. But then I got this message: "Your attempt to verify your identity was unsuccessful. Review your information, and try again." I did, and I tried again. This time I was told my identity could not be verified and that I should call a customer service representative. Wait time: 30 minutes. I hung up.

 

I was also given the option to continue my application. I clicked on that and got a blank page. Apparently some glitches need to be worked out.

 

The Post says I'll be asked for information about my income, family size, where I live and my citizenship status. Then, I'll be told whether I'm eligible for Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor.

 

Since I'm not, I'll next be told how much of a subsidy in the form of a tax credit I'll get to offset part of the cost of my monthly premiums when I purchase insurance on the marketplace. I expect to make too much money to qualify for that. (If I'm wrong, this will be rectified when I file my 2014 taxes.)

 

A look at my choice of plans
 

Next, the Post says, I'll be shown the health insurance plans available in my state in such a way that I can easily compare what's being offered and how much they'll cost. The choices on the marketplaces are called the "metal plans" — bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Bronze has the cheapest premiums but requires the most out-of-pocket costs. Platinum has the most expensive premiums but requires the insured person to pay only 10 percent of his or her health care costs. (I can guarantee that plan is too rich for my blood.)

 

However, all of the metal plans must offer 10 "essential health benefits" that many plans on the individual health insurance market currently do not offer — prescription coverage, maternity, etc. — as well as free access to a number of preventive-care procedures and tests. And, unlike the past, no one can be turned down or charged more because of a pre-existing health condition.

 

After you chose your metal plan, you may be offered the option of an HMO, PPO, POS or high-deductible plan. Some low-income people and those under 30 will have the option of a catastrophic plan, but no subsidies will be allowed for those.

 

Here in Montana, all plans are being offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, PacificSource Health Plans and the Montana Health CO-OP. Montana's insurance commissioner has said that the average cost on the marketplace will be $273 (for a 40-year-old), $17 less than what a similar policy would have cost without Obamacare. (Remember that the premiums will vary based on where you live, how old you are and whether you smoke.)

 

Don't worry about buying your insurance today. As long you purchase a plan by mid-December, your insurance will be place by Jan. 1. The marketplaces will have open enrollment through March 31. Anyone who has insurance by April 1 will not pay a penalty for not having coverage next year.

 

Also, if you have a life-changing event like a divorce or loss of insurance through work, you can buy insurance on a marketplace at any time.

 

Will my health insurance on the marketplace cost less than the policy I have now through a small group plan? That policy is for a $5,000 deductible and costs my employer more than $850 a month. We'll find out when I get to make my online application.

 

More from MoneyTalksNews:

 

 

 

10Comments
Oct 2, 2013 1:11PM
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America must change

                                                                                                                            

We, the America people, have a very serious problem in our economy and our nation. We’re going to have to change our attitudes and face some hard realities. Number one: We are the people (each of us) responsible for our country!!!!! In any civilization, past present or future, under any form of government, republic, dictator, king, bureaucracy or congress there is only one person responsible and you can meet that person when you look in the minor. When we abrogate our responsibilies to any form of government that government will eventually make use their slaves. Number two: You cannot turn a sex maniac loose in a whore house with a credit card. We in the United States have turned loose our congress, presidency, the fed and bureaucracy with our credit card. We have got to take that credit card back or we will never right our economy or our nation. Number three!! Government is not God; it only thinks it is God. Government is a tool a people of a nation use to do those activities that we can do more efficiently and effectively, collectively then we can do individually. Four: Bankruptcy is on its way!!!! Our Federal debt including all unfunded obligations exceeds the net worth of the USA. We have spent 60 years creating this debt, if you think our children are going to spend their lives paying it off, your nuts. Five: We have no leadership in America today. We have a President that is a lost dog in tall grass, a congress that is brought and paid for by vested interests. (Many of the lobbyists are foreign countries.) and a federal reserve that is a Ponzi scheme.  It is up to us, we must solve the problem.

 

We have got to change our Constitution in a way that power is taken away from Government and makes the America people directly responsible.

 

1.     Taxes must be taken off of everything except final consumption. When a family goes to the grocery store and buys $100 in groceries and the checker add $30.00 for federal tax, $25.00 for state tax $5.00 for local taxes and $15.00 to pay off the debt, the crap will come out of the heads of the America people about the cost of Government. Also, no person or item is exempted, everyone pays. Americans will be ready to fight back with gusto!!!!

 

2.     Take away the power of Congress to pass legislation. All legislation (bills) must come before the people to be approved or disapproved. We have the communications capacity via the internet, etc. to do this. Furthermore, all bills must be broken down by item and a cost must be accessed to each item. We need line item voting power. The bill must be written in understandable English!!

 

3.     Any person or group, who can obtain 3% of the registered voter’s signatures, can design and/or present a bill (legislation) to congress. . Congress must debate, approve or disapprove legislation; however, again the people must approve or disapprove the legislation.

 

4.     We need an accounting system that is as accurate as possible, so Americans know where their tax money is going and can make decisions. 

 

With these new Constitutional tools, there will be 320 million Americans who will decide what they want to spend their dollars on. The American people will cut government spending by 35% and increase the productive of our tax dollars and economy by 400%. Our government and our nation would be changed forever. This recession and federal debt maybe a great blessing, in that we will advance our democracy, freedoms and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Or become slaves to our government. There is no way the United States Congress is going to solve this Debt problem. The American people are going to have to do it themselves. We are going to have to change our Constitution. There is no other way.

Oct 2, 2013 9:56AM
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""buy health insurance on a STATE marketplace""

GUESS THATS IT IN A NUTSHELL




Oct 2, 2013 11:09AM
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I was re-directed to the death squad hotline.
Oct 2, 2013 2:12PM
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OBAMA HAD  3 YEARS TO SET HIS DEATHCARE UP AND IT'S A FAILURE AND NOTHING BUT

LIES AND PROPAGANDA BY HIM DEMONCRATS AND LEFT WING MEDIA! XREPUBLICAN

WHAT LIES? IT HAS DEATH PANELS! IT'S NOT CHEAPER! YOU CAN'T KEEP YOUR DOCTOR!

IT'S HURTING THE ECONOMY AND JOBS! IT'S NOTHING BUT SINGLE PAYER SOCIALIZED

HEALTHCARE AND WAS DESIGNED TO FAIL! THE EXCHANGES AREN'T READY AND NOT

WORKING! YOUR THE BRAINWASHED WHO ACCEPTS LIES AND FAIRY TALES FROM THE

LEFT! MAYBE IF YOU GOT A JOB? OR STOP WATCHING PSMNBC OR JUST BELIEVING

ALL THE CRAP AND LIES THAT OBAMA SAYS AND DO SOME RESEARCH YOU'LL SEE WHAT

A JACKASS YOU ARE LIKE MOST OBAMA VOTERS FOR FALLING FOR HIS NAZI CRAP!

THE DEMONCRATS DON'T EVEN WANT OBAMA DEATHCARE! SO IT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH

FOR THEM BUT FOR EVERYBODY ELSE??? YEAH WELL YOU CAN BELIEVE IT JACKASS!

 

Oct 2, 2013 10:01PM
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Let's not forget that the only reason that The Affordable Health Care Act was found to be Constitutional was because it is full of new taxes!  The government will tell you how much you can afford to pay for health insurance based on your income and family size.  If you are a family of 4 and make $50000 a year, you will pay on average, $695 a month for insurance through Obamacare.  If you can't afford that and don't buy insurance, you will be fined 1% of your gross pay the first year and 2.5% of your gross the following year!  It resembles MA healthcare laws.  Now MA residents who don't buy insurance will be fined by both the federal and their state government!  There are many other fines (taxes) in the Health Care Act that will impose fines (taxes) on employers too.  I can see many employers closing up shop or relocating to China or reducing their workforce to part time. The other option that employers are taking is to cancel their employer provided insurance and telling their employees to sign up for the government healthcare.  The Health Care Act doesn't fully go into complete effect until 2017.  Each year from now until then, we will see many jobs lost and taxes and national debt continue to rise to compensate the many more millions that will become dependent on Obamacare.  Oh yeah, lets also not forget that the national debt is rising at a rate of $1.86 billion per day since September 30, 2012 and Obama wants another increase!  If every American sold everything it owned and gave the money to the government, it would not even begin to pay off our Country's debt!  Yet he still wants more increases!  We will probably become like other countries with national healthcare with across the board tax rates of 38% to 50% imposed on the working class to pay for this mess!!
Oct 2, 2013 8:16AM
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it will all go down like the titanic in the end, just give it time.
Oct 2, 2013 10:37AM
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Let the right wing Obamacare lies to begin !
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