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Monday, September 23, 2013

Obama Care Goes into effect

People living in Illinois may start shopping for ObamaCare health insurance next week, but for many, there are still more questions than answers about what it's all about and how much it will cost.

Officials already know what insurance companies plan to charge, as well as other details of the Affordable Care Act. Critics suggest they're waiting until the last minute to reveal it because, for many consumers, it will be expensive bad news.

For now, the emphasis is on those who will clearly benefit.

"For an individual who's not been able to access health care before, I think it's going to be great news," says Tom Meier of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois.

Vice President Tom Meier helped assemble dozens of proposed ObamaCare health insurance policies that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois submitted to regulators. Five other health insurers did, too. Thanks to a series of delays in Washington, though, consumers in Illinois will apparently be among the last to learn what exactly those policies will cost.

Four levels of policies will be available, with Platinum the most expensive, followed by Gold, Silver and Bronze.

Unlike Illinois, Indiana is already posted pricing. Governor Mike Pence, a foe of ObamaCare, said the average cost would be $512 a month. But insurers are charging $294 a month for a low-end Bronze plan for a 47-year-old male non-smoker. Depending on their income, some will pay much less.

"A number of our both existing and future customers are going to have access to subsidies through the Affordable Care Act that they haven't had access to before," Meier explains.

A family of four earning less than $23,550 would be eligible for free coverage through Medicaid. Incomes of up to $94,200 a year would be eligible for a sliding scale of government assistance to pay for their health insurance.

Some may find it cheaper to pay an annual penalty than to buy ObamaCare insurance: next year $95 per adult or 1% of taxable income.

That penalty would be collected at tax time, by the Internal Revenue Service. Making it easier to ignore the requirement to buy health insurance: someone who gets a serious illness would be allowed to buy coverage after a relatively brief waiting period.



MORE INFORMATION FROM THE HEALTH INSURANCE MARKETPLACE:

Individuals will have two-and-half months in which to compare plans and enroll in coverage that begins Jan. 1.
The entire enrollment period will last for six months, all the way through March. But to be covered on Jan. 1 of 2014, you need to enroll by Dec. 15.
Approximately 1,200 in-person assisters/navigators will be available around the state to help consumers who need it sort through the plans.
The Marketplace website, which will be ready for business on Oct. 1, will make it easy for consumers and small businesses to apply for and enroll in comprehensive health coverage, compare private health insurance plans and enroll in the plan that's best for them.
Subsidies will be available on a sliding scale for people who earn between 138 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level – that's from $15,860 to $45,960 for individuals and $32,500 to $94,200 for a family of four.

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