Blog: Coming Soon -- A New Way to Buy Health Insurance

Many Californians will be able to obtain health insurance through a new Health Insurance Marketplace. Medicare's David Sayen explains how the Marketplace works.

When key parts of the health reform law take effect in 2014, you'll have a new way to buy health insurance for yourself, your family, and your small business: the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Marketpace is designed to help you find health insurance that fits your budget, with less hassle.

Every health insurance plan in the new Marketplace will offer comprehensive coverage, from doctors to medications to hospital visits. You can compare all your insurance options based on price, benefits, quality, and other features that may be important to you, in plain language that makes sense.

You'll know you're getting a quality health plan at a reasonable price because there's nothing buried in the fine print.

When you shop at the Marketplace, all your costs are stated upfront. So you'll get a clear picture of what you're paying for and what you're getting before you make a choice.

California's Marketplace is called Covered California (www.coveredca.com).

Under the health reform law, you and your family also will have new protections. Health insurance companies can't refuse to cover you, or charge you more because you have a chronic or pre-existing condition. And they can't charge more for women than for men.

Here are some things to keep in mind about the Health Insurance Marketplace:

* It's an easier way to shop for health insurance. The Health Insurance Marketplace simplifies your search for insurance by gathering all your options in one place. One application, one time, and you and your family can explore every qualified insurance plan in your area -- including any free or low-cost insurance programs you may qualify for, such as Medi-Cal or the Children's Health Insurance Program.

* Most people will be able to get a break on costs. Programs that lower costs are available for almost everyone. You may be eligible for a free or low-cost plan, or a new kind of tax credit that lowers your monthly pemiums right away. New rules and expanded programs mean that even working families can get help paying for health insurance at the Marketplace.

* Clear, apples-to-apples comparisons. All health insurance plans in the Marketplace present their price and benefit information in simple terms you can understand, so you don't have to guess about your costs.

Starting Oct. 1, 2013, you'll be able to enroll in a plan through Covered California. Detailed information will be available about all the insurance plans offered in your area.

You can sign up now at www.coveredca.com to get email updates about how to get ready to enroll in the plan of your choice.

If you have difficult finding a plan that meets your needs and budget, there'll be people available to give you personalized help with your choices. These helpers aren't associated with any plan, and they don't receive any type of commission, so the help they give you will be completely unbiased.

Www.coveredca.com will be much more than any health insurance website you've used before. Insurance companies will compete for your business on a level and transparent playing field, with no hidden costs or misleading fine print. You'll have more choice, more control, and more clout when it comes to health insurance.

Insurance coverage through Covered California takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.

David Sayen is Medicare's regional administrator for California. You an alwats get answers to your Medicare quesitons by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

John B. Greet February 19, 2013 at 08:53 PM
ACA is *not* making healthcare more accessible. Despite the President's pre-passage assurances that those who wanted to keep their current healthcare would be able to do so, the CBO made it clear that by 2019, 20 million Americans could lose their employer sponsored healthcare. According to the consulting firm McKinsey and Company “30 percent of employers will definitely or probably stop offering ESI in the years after 2014.” Former CBO director and president of the American Action Forum, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, estimated that Obamacare “provides strong incentives for employers—with the agreement of their employees—to drop employer-sponsored health insurance for as many as 35 million Americans.” Beyond this many employers are converting their full-time workforce to a primarily part-time one, thus completely avoiding the employer mandate in ACA. So not only will more employees no longer have employer sponsored health coverage, they will be earning less income with which they will be able to purchase their own. The idea that people losing their existing coverage or that people having their hours cut back so as to circumvent the requirement that an employer provide coverage...is somehow *increasing* healthcare accessibility simply has no foundation in logic. http://blog.heritage.org/2012/07/27/what-are-the-odds-your-employer-will-drop-health-coverage/
JustUs February 19, 2013 at 09:07 PM
I have no idea why intelligent people would pump Obamacare. The CBO already said that Obamacare will not reduce healthcare costs when that was supposed to be THE primary objective since today we spend about 18% of our GDP to finance our healthcare system, while other industrialized nations spend from 9%-13%. I read that the cheapest healthcare insurance plan for a family of 4/5 under Obamacare is $20,000 a year. heh. Obamacare is nothing more than cost shifting. Taking a dollar from a productive man's pocket and putting it into a non-productive man's pocket. And if a productive man wants to opt out of having money forcibly removed from his pocket - the IRS comes after him and whiplashes him with a significant monetary 'penalty'. So be must pay through the nose to opt out. heh. This sounds like something out of a Mickey Spillane book. Not something in a nation that I put my life on the line for to defend freedom, liberty, equity, justice and 'equality under the law', all contained in our most sacred US Constitution. I feel like I've been duped. It's getting to the point that it's really not worth it to work anymore. Leeches have moved to the head of the pack. Criminals are being rewarded (amnesty). The working stiff is merely a sap and a walking ATM machine to be tapped at will by the government to make the free cheese folks happy. Sorry. That's a recipe for disaster. And if it continues unabated we're done as a country.
Guy February 19, 2013 at 11:42 PM
Thanks, it is time to make healthcare more accessible for everyone. When one is sick one needs treatment and has has limited or no choice. This is a personal emergency to a certain degree. For healthcare for-profit corporations to take advantage of this situation and to set prices as high as they possibly can is unethical. This is not free market economics. I consider this price gouging as well.
John B. Greet February 19, 2013 at 11:52 PM
"When one is sick one needs treatment and has has limited or no choice." Only those who have left *themselves* with limited or no choice need suffer under those conditions. At some point a free people have to assume some responsibility for their own choices and circumstances. Mandated coverage provisions in ACA can tend to absolve people of the reasonable consequences of their own poor choices. For-profit healthcare has proven the best approach in the world, both for expanding health care availability and quality as well as expanding both general and specialized knowledge of medical and dental science. Are there problems? Of course, but none so great as those experienced by first world industrialized nations with some form of universal healthcare. And there are many other ways to address our nation's healthcare problems than through government-imposed mandates. Allowing people to shop for their health coverage on a nationwide basis (portability) would help bring and keep costs down. Enacting strict tort reform laws would also help prevent abuses. Other solutions are also available that do not involve federal mandates that have *no* constitutional foundation. ACA was sold to us as costing about $900 billion. It has already climbed to over $2.6 trillion and is not yet fully implemented. ACA has been bad law, and poorly applied, from the very beginning.
Tim Sole February 20, 2013 at 12:04 AM
If, somehow, we could get actual unemployment down to the 4% to 5% range. Instead of the 7% to 9% range that has been accepted by today's politicians. Several things would happen, tax revenue would increase, wages would increase for the lower and middle class (without artificial stimulus), employers would need to provide better benefits to keep their workers, tax revenue would ensure government pensions would be paid for, private employers would need to protect retirement accounts for their workers, so they retain their best employees and the middle class would be able to afford decent health insurance, based on the hundreds of thousands of new employees in the insurance pool. Pollyanna you say, not a chance, we just need to get rid of politicians like Waxman who accept higher unemployment rates as part of life, when in fact, Waxman and his merry band of environmentalists caused the high unemployment rate with their off the edge environmental and governmental regulations. Time for a change..........
John B. Greet February 20, 2013 at 12:26 AM
"Time for a change..." Agreed, Tim. Time and past time. More than 40 *years* past time for California. Instead of perceiving the true reasons for the challenges California faces, California voters have now given the libs in Sacramento a super-majority and continue to send the same libs to Congress and the Senate year after year, somehow expecting things to change. I finally gave up on hoping for substantaive political change in California. That's part of why I don't live there any longer. I finally decided to vote with my feet. That doesn't help California, but perhaps if enough folks and businesses do the same, the one's who remain might finally get the message.
Tim Sole February 20, 2013 at 05:00 AM
John, the point on the super-majority is, they have to accept responsibility for any and all issues the state of California now faces. I've decided to stay and fight.
John B. Greet February 20, 2013 at 05:14 AM
I've been fighting for more electoral responsibility in California since 1977. I've had enough. They have beaten me. I've resolved to not waste one more moment of my precious time in a place where the majority of voters can't be bothered to recover and maintain constructive control over their State government. Good luck to you.
helen petticrew February 20, 2013 at 09:48 AM
Great article.
Gregory Brittain February 21, 2013 at 05:52 AM
Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You, #22 With Election Over, Obama Announces Medicare Cuts to Fund Obamacare http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/02/20/With-Election-Over-Obama-Announces-Medicare-Cuts-To-Fund-ObamaCare
David Lewis February 21, 2013 at 06:13 AM
People worry about gun control nonsense killing people. Just wait till Obamacare hit's. It will kill more people than all the wars combined.
Gregory Brittain February 23, 2013 at 04:26 AM
Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You, #23 Obamacare and the 29’ers “How the new mandates are already reducing full-time employment” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324616604578304072420873666.html?mod=opinion_newsreel “These employment cliffs are especially perverse economic incentives. Thousands of employers will face a $40,000 penalty if they dare expand and hire a 50th worker. The law is effectively a $2,000 tax on each additional hire after that, so to move to 60 workers costs $60,000.” “The timing of all this couldn't be worse. Involuntary part-time U.S. employment is already near a record high. The latest Department of Labor employment survey counts roughly eight million Americans who want a full-time job but are stuck in a part-time holding pattern. That number is down only 520,000 since January 2010 and it is 309,000 higher than last March. (See the nearby chart.) And now comes ObamaCare to increase the incentive for employers to hire only part-time workers.”


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