Keeping Healthy: The Health Care Exchange

Published 09/05 2013 05:23PM

Updated 09/05 2013 11:47PM

One of the biggest pushes behind President Obama's health care plan was the drive to get everyone health insurance. For those that aren't currently covered, they're encouraged to sign up on what's called the Individual Exchange, or pay a penalty that increases over time.

"It'll be much like an Expedia. So you say you want to fly from Syracuse to Orlando, you're going to have ten different ways to get there, and ten different price points,” says William Virkler of Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield. “If you're eligible for a subsidy, and that's for those up to the 400% of the federal poverty level, about 42,000 for a single, or 92,000 for a family of four, that's where you'd receive the subsidy.”

People will have access to this exchange starting October 1st, and it will go into effect January 1st. When picking a plan, Virkler says don't just go for the cheapest or most expensive - think about your needs, medical history, and what the out of pocket expenses would be under at particular plan. But for those people who work for companies that typically provide insurance - what do you need to know?

"Large employer group insurance will remain intact, so large employer groups can continue to buy insurance as they do, offer it to their employees as they do today.”

And for small businesses, they can carry on offering insurance as they normally do. However, there is a small business, or "shop" exchange - providing employers another way to provide their employees insurance. Virkler says the only benefit to doing that is if an employer group is eligible for a tax subsidy, the exchange is the only way to get that. For anyone with questions, all you have to do is ask. Ask your employer, or if you're doing it on your own - there is help available. There are groups in our community designated by the state to provide guidance on which plan is best to choose, and how to go about doing it.

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