Law brings major changes to US health insurance
In the U.S., the health care sector is currently undergoing something of a revolution, and has been since 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was passed into law. The federal law has been a source of controversy since its passage, but this may be due to the misconceptions that often surround the legislation. While the Affordable Care Act does seek to make radical changes to health insurance, some of which may be difficult for many people and businesses to adapt to, some of the law’s provisions could actually help make insurance coverage more accessible to people throughout the country. These provisions remain, however, relatively unknown to most people.
The federal government, as well as several state governments, has been working to raise awareness of the health insurance options people throughout the country can find through state-based insurance exchanges. These exchanges are designed to be digital marketplaces where anyone can find the coverage they are interested in. Some of these exchanges will be managed by the states they call home, while others will fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Regardless of which party is managing the exchange, marketing the services that these programs provide has become a top priority due to the fact that many people are not aware that they can find insurance coverage through these systems.
Tiered insurance policies
Several states have launched aggressive marketing campaigns to highlight the basic structure of their exchange systems. Most exchanges will offer health insurance coverage in various tiers, typically categorized as “bronze,” “silver,” and “platinum.” Each tier of coverage offers its own benefits, with platinum policies offering the best benefits when compared to those of lower tiers. High tier policies will also be more expensive, of course, but even bronze tier policies are required to provide benefits to policyholders that are not typically common in the private market.
Bronze tier policies may be attractive to those that do not want to spend copious amounts of money on health insurance coverage, but these policies may not be the economic windfall that some are looking for. Two studies that have been released this week — one from Avalare Health and the other from the Kaiser Family Foundation — suggest that bronze policies may offer low premiums, but at the cost of higher deductibles. The studies claim that these policies could leave some people to handle a significant portion of medical costs in the event of an emergency. Higher tier policies may have larger monthly premiums, but could provide people with more flexibility in terms of deductibles.
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Financial aid from the federal government
One of the least known aspects of health insurance exchanges is the fact that many people could be eligible for federal subsides, which will offset the cost of policies they purchase through these systems. Those that fall below 200% to 400% of the federal poverty level are eligible for these subsidies, which can be used to cut the costs of any health insurance policies they are interested in from exchanges throughout the country. These subsidies are expected to cut costs by as much as 77% for some people.
While the Affordable Care Act has caused a significant amount of controversy in the U.S., many aspects of the law have generated more confusion than anger throughout the country. Exactly what impact the law will have is still an unanswered question.
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