It’s the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a Obamacare. And it’s finally arriving this week.
On Tuesday, millions of people in Florida and across the United States will, for the first time, be able to log online and comparison-shop for individual health insurance coverage under the new federal law.
Here are 10 things to know before the federal Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces go live.
Florida is one of 27 states using a federally run health insurance marketplace — also known as an online exchange — to let residents compare and shop for coverage.
Accessible at healthcare.gov, the online exchanges are set to go live Tuesday. An open enrollment period will run from Oct. 1 through March 31, 2014.
People who wish to have coverage in place by Jan. 1 must enroll in their plans by Dec. 15.
The healthcare.gov site will prompt users to input information like age, location, gender, Social Security number and current policy number (if applicable). It will then show a list of available plans, as well as coverage details and pricing, and eligibility for federal subsidies or Medicaid. You can then choose to purchase a plan from the ones available.
• Plans are split into various tiers.
Insurers will offer plans on five tiers: platinum, gold, silver, bronze and catastrophic.
The four “metal” tiers come with different costs and benefits. Platinum plans will carry the highest monthly premiums and the lowest out-of-pocket costs like co-payments and deductibles. Bronze plans will have the lowest monthly costs but higher out-of-pocket costs.
The fifth option, catastrophic coverage, is available for people 30 or under and certain low-income residents. These are high-deductible, low-premium plans that are not eligible for tax credits.
• How much will it cost? Depends.
The federal government won’t provide an under-the-hood look at specific plans until the online exchanges go live on Tuesday. With so many variables to consider — age, gender, location, income, smoking habits, coverage networks, deductibles, co-payments, etc. — it is impossible to predict exactly how much someone might pay.
However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that, on average, health insurance premiums for plans purchased through the online exchanges will be about 16 percent less than originally projected. In Florida, that means a 27-year-old making $25,000 a year would, on average, pay a $218 monthly premium for a middle-tier plan, before any tax credits.
The Obama administration said prices will be especially competitive in areas like South Florida where several insurance companies are offering multiple plans. In Miami-Dade and Broward counties, premiums will be among the lowest in the state. Miami-Dade has nine insurers offering a total of 141 different plans, and Broward has at least eight insurers offering a total of 136 plans.
A 29-year-old Broward resident, on average, would pay a monthly premium of $91.62 for the lowest-cost catastrophic plan, $136.80 for the lowest-cost bronze plan, $185.62 for the lowest-cost silver plan and $201.31 for the lowest-cost gold plan, all before any tax credits. In Miami-Dade, a 29-year-old resident, on average, would pay for the same plans $116.36, $173.74, $216 and $255.67 a month, respectively, before tax credits.