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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Consumers Now Have Options When It Comes to Health Insurance Plans and Carriers

Erin Snyder

Staff Writer

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, consumers have more options for carriers and health insurance plans through their state’s marketplace.

According to data from healthcare.gov, 34 states’ marketplaces offer plans from an average of six insurance carriers.

Each of these carriers provides a range of health insurance plans. These plan choices will give people the flexibility to a find a health plan that meets their needs. Finding providers, prescriptions, and pricing is much easier now. Plus, most of these states offer at least four carrier options.

Choosing the right health coverage category and getting financial help to pay for a plan

Plans with similar levels of care are organized into four categories (also known as metal levels): bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.

And if you need financial help, visit your state’s marketplace website to compare health plans and see if you qualify for financial help to pay less out-of-pocket.

If you qualify for financial help to reduce your monthly payment (also called a premium), you can use this toward buying a plan in any metal level.

Certain financial assistance requires choosing a silver plan

If you qualify for extra financial assistance to lower costs for health care services, such as copays, coinsurance, or deductibles, you must choose any silver plan in the marketplace to take get this extra help.

In each of these 34 states, there are at least four different silver plans offered. And on average, these states offer 26 different silver plans. With such a wide variety, states are hoping to meet the needs of as many residents as possible in one plan or another.

The Affordable Care Act brings freedom and flexibility in choosing the right health plan

Given what we know about economics, offering consumers more choices typically means greater competition in the marketplace, which often leads to lower prices. Offering these options should allow consumers to find a plan in which they can keep their doctor if they want or receive their medication without worry.

The Affordable Care Act was designed to promote the freedom of choice and flexibility in shopping for health coverage.