Friday, 20 September 2013 14:34

Healthcare marketplace questions answered

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On Oct. 1, the Federal Online Health Insurance Marketplace will go live, offering thousands of Oklahomans easy access and comparison in shopping for private health insurance. 

The marketplace, part of the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare - federal health reform passed in 2010, is meant to help uninsured people who do not have employer-provided health insurance to find coverage for them and their families. 

“The marketplace simplifies your shopping for coverage by letting you make side-by-side comparisons of health plans,” Bob Moos, southwest public affairs officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said. “You’ll get a clear picture of what benefits you’d get and what premiums and deductibles you’d pay.”

On average, a three night stay in a hospital costs about $30,000, while a broken leg can cost as much as $7,500 to treat, costs Moos said would quickly push most patients deep into debt without insurance. 

Under the provisions of Obamacare, providers cannot deny insurance based on preexisting medical conditions such as cancer or diabetes. Insurers also cannot charge more for preexisting conditions. Hospitals also cannot delay care for someone who has insurance. 

While many private insurance options do not provide a full package of benefits like most employer plans would, all plans purchased through the marketplace provide a minimum number of packages. These include prescription drugs, doctor’s visits, preventative care, maternity care and emergency services, among others.

Plan enrollment runs through March 31, 2014. Beginning Jan. 1, under current laws, people without medical insurance who can afford it will have to pay a fee, Moos said. 

For more information, visit www.healthcare.gov, or call 1-800-318-2596.

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