One Way You Will Benefit from Health Reform Law: The Health Insurance Marketplace
With over nine hundred pages outlining hundreds of provisions, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) aims to expand coverage to millions of Americans and lower health care costs. Now that its major functioning mechanism, the individual mandate, was found to be constitutional, the various provisions of the law will continue to be implemented as scheduled.
One provision in particular, the creation of the Health Insurance Marketplace (Exchange) program, facilitates individuals and small businesses as they select appropriate health insurance plans. States across the nation have received grants allowing them to establish state Affordable Insurance Exchanges. Not only will more Americans be covered, but prices will go down as well: The Exchanges, which create a “one-stop shop” experience for individuals and small businesses looking for coverage, make the insurance market more transparent, as consumers will make selections based on price and quality. This in turn fosters competition with and among private insurance companies, which consequently lowers prices.
Since a completely public health care plan for all could not pass through Congress, the Affordable Care Act was designed to maintain the integrity of the private health care system while ensuring that millions more get the coverage they need. Like a restaurant menu explicitly stating the prices and ingredients of each entrée, the Marketplace is a website where the various plan options are laid out for consumers, who can compare plans that meet state and federal standards and connect to federal assistance programs, such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and tax credits that can help pay private health plan premiums.
Open enrollment in the Marketplace begins October 2013, and the Marketplace launches on January 1, 2014. Although this may seem far in the future, grass-top leaders have already begun brainstorming how to get the word out to their constituents across the country. To learn about how you can take advantage of the Health Insurance Marketplace in your state, check out the resources here. Our synagogues need to be part of the effort to educate their own membership and members of the broader community to engage with the Health Insurance Marketplace through their state exchanges. The more people who access insurance through the ACA system, the better off we will all be.
However, all of the improvements the ACA is making to our health care system could be derailed if Congress voted to repeal it. To ensure that you continue to reap the benefits of health care reform, urge your representative to oppose any effort to repeal the health care law!