So far, confusion and complaints have haunted the October 1st opening of the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplace, which was intended to give consumers an easy way to shop for health care plans. Aside from the technical glitches surrounding HealthCare.gov, the federal Marketplace enrollment site used in 36 states, confusion exists as to what the Marketplace offers and who should be using it.
Big picture, the Marketplace is a new tool for people without access to health insurance to compare plans and enroll in health coverage. If you have access to employer-based insurance or you’re eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, you do not need to use the Marketplace. However, you can still compare plans and enroll in coverage through the Marketplace if you choose to do so – just realize that you won’t be eligible for the Marketplace savings (“subsidies”). And while private brokers and insurers will also continue to sell plans to the uninsured, they won’t be able to offer subsidies.
If you don’t currently have insurance, you’ll need to get it by March 31, 2014 (technically January 1, but there’s a three-month grace period) unless you fall within certain categories or can convince the government that you’re exempt.