The Affordable Care Act is moving to the next stage with the federal health insurance marketplace. Now, a look at what that means for local patients.
Amanda Mitchell is the Grant Project Coordinator for Freeman Health System. She explains, "The Missouri Health Insurance Marketplace is basically a website that individuals and small businesses can go to to compare and shop private health insurance plans and purchase those for their families. A person can go ahead and use the marketplace currently. It opened on October first of this year. The open enrollment goes through March 31st. But really the first time that people will be eligible for benefits will be January first if they enroll by December 15th.
In 2014, most Americans will be required to have health insurance or pay a penalty. There are certain exemptions to that penalty so we encourage people to visit the website to find out what those exemptions are, or visit with some of our certified application counselors who can help them with that.
Some of those exemptions include people that will not be eligible for subsidies because of Medicaid not expanding in Missouri. Also people that have hardships, people that have even received shutoff notice from utility companies in the past year. There's several different ways you can be exempt.
For those that are concerned about the cost of insurance, there are several options available to them to make it more affordable and that includes the tax subsidies that are available for people. For a family of four making up to $94,000 per year - there are subsidies available for those families. So it really does include a lot of people in our community."