An exceptionally central part of the heart of President Obama’s healthcare overhaul is about to go live.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed by President Barack Obama in March 2010, and on October 1, 2013, the largest impact on the public – the state health insurance exchanges – are about to open their doors.
This is the element of the healthcare reforms that will be most visible to the American people.
These health insurance marketplaces are designed to help individuals and small businesses to be able to buy private coverage plans that they can afford. They are online exchanges that are meant to give consumers a user friendly place in which to learn about policies, compare them, and choose the options that are best suited to their needs. The applications can be completed online, as well, but there are also options for phone, mail, and in-person applications for coverage.
The health insurance exchanges will also provide a wide network of customer assistance personnel.
The health insurance exchanges will also provide consumers with assistance through “navigators”, who are individuals hired as customers service agents who are neutral regarding product selection. They will assist plan shoppers in finding the best options for their budget and coverage requirements.
The states made their own decisions regarding whether they would create and operate their own health insurance exchanges or if the federal government would take over and do it for them. Over half of the states chose to have the federal government run their marketplaces.
Many reports are already suggesting that the monthly premiums that will be paid for the health insurance plans purchased through these online exchanges will be lower than had originally been predicted. The true test will begin in a week, when the marketplaces will begin open enrollments in the plans that they offer. This will help to show plan shoppers in each of the states the type of experience that they will be able to expect, and the premiums that they will be paying in order to make sure that they have the coverage that they need for January 1, 2014 when the next major element of the healthcare reforms will be going into effect.