Today marks the opening of the Affordable Care Act’s federal health insurance marketplace – healthcare.gov.
Beginning today, consumers can begin purchasing health insurance plans, with coverage beginning Jan. 1. It’s a signature component of the insurance changes collectively known as "Obamacare."
KUT has been covering the run-up to today’s marketplace opening. Here’s some answers to common questions about the marketplace: the types of coverage offered, how to navigate the marketplace and more, including an interactive guide.
In the audio player below, listen to a conversation between KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Veronica Zaragovia summarizing key points about the marketplace and the Affordable Care Act.
How Much Will Health Insurance Cost?
That number depends on a variety of factors, including age, income and level of coverage.
Broadly speaking, there are five categories of coverage under Obamacare: catastrophic, bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Basically, the higher your monthly premium is, the greater your insurance coverage. That should result in smaller out-of-pocket costs for hospitalizations and doctors visits. And depending on your family size and income, you could qualify for an automatic tax subsidy. Read more:
- See the First Austin Prices for Health Insurance in the 'Obamacare' Marketplace
- What Texans Need to Know About the Health Insurance Marketplace
Can I Still Get Coverage Even Though Texas Didn’t Create Its Own Marketplace?
Yes. While Texas declined to set up its own health care exchange, it’s participating in the exchange set up by the federal government. And new regulations of insurance plans and their rates will still be in effect here. Read more:
Has the Government Shutdown Impacted the Marketplace?
No. While House Republicans have made changes to or delay of the Affordable Care Act a key demand of continued government funding, the government shutdown that began today does not impact the insurance marketplace’s opening. Read more:
Need Help Navigating the Austin Marketplace?
Navigators are application counselors there to help consumers shop on the new insurance marketplace, and answer their questions.
- Insure Central Texas is one group helping Austinites navigate the health care exchanges. Read more about the group here.
- Central Health is coordinating efforts with several local organizations to provide in-person application assistance in Travis, Hays and Williamson Counties. Locations include CommUnityCare, Lone Star Circle of Care and Foundation Communities centers. See a list of locations here.
- Central Texas residents can also call 2-1-1 for more information (hours and locations) about application assistance. And for 24-hour government help in English, Spanish and 150 languages, call 1-800-318-2596.
- Also, some Texans may get a visit from volunteers – such as those with the Get Covered America campaign of Enroll America – going door to door to answer insurance questions. Read more: Have Health Insurance Questions? Here's Where Texans Can Find Answers
What’s the Controversy Surrounding Texas Navigators?
Marketplace navigators are at the center of a political debate in Texas. State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, authored a senate bill he said is aimed at ensuring consumers get accurate information about insurance plans. But Gov. Rick Perry cited the law in a letter to the Texas Department of Insurance calling for more stringent regulations governing navigators than current federal rules. Sen. Watson says that goes against the intent of his bill, and is an effort to undermine the rollout of Obamacare in Texas. Read more:
- Texas 'Obamacare' Navigators at Center of Dispute
- Texas 'Obamacare' Navigators Testify Against Extra Training Requirements
- Houston Gears Up For Obamacare, Despite GOP Opposition
Leave your own questions or comments about the Affordable Care Act below.