Affordable Care Act: The marketplace and coverage levels - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

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Affordable Care Act: The marketplace and coverage levels

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Open enrollment starts Oct. 1 for the Affordable Care Act and it has many people asking how the new legislation will impact them. One of the most important concepts to understand is the "marketplace."

Think of a travel website, like Orbitz or Kayak, that search for and find all the best airfares and list them for you all in one place. That's what the marketplace at healthcare.gov is doing for healthcare. The site will walk you through the different options available to you.

New information released by the Department of Health and Human Services says Arizonans will have 106 different health plans to choose from and will pay lower monthly premiums than the national average. HHS says the majority of people in Arizona who are uninsured, will be able to find coverage for $100 or less per month on the marketplace.

In the past, consumers would have to apply to each individual insurance company, fill out that company's forms, and then see what rate they were offered.

Cheryl O'Donnell from the outreach agency Enroll America says that caused a big problem.

"And it was really incredibly difficult to compare those different plans to one another. So now with the health insurance Marketplace, individuals can go to one place, fill out one form, and actually see a range of health coverage providers, and compare apples to apples, and choose a plan that's best for them," O'Donnell said.

Consumers will have four categories of health plans to choose from. With a Bronze plan, you'll pay the lowest monthly premiums, but you'll pay the highest share of costs when you get care. That ratio will start to reverse as you go through Silver and Gold plans. With the Platinum plan you will pay the highest monthly premium, but the lowest share of costs when you get care. Your out-of-pocket maximum is the same for every plan - $6,000/person or $13,000/family. So, in a worse-case scenario, everybody has the same ceiling for what they pay for the covered care they receive.

So, if you're younger, not sick much, don't see the doctor often, you may want the Bronze plan.  If your health condition is the opposite?

"For someone who may have a chronic health condition, or may need to go to a doctor more often, they may want to choose a higher plan, like a Gold or Platinum plan," O'Donnell said.

If you're still unsure about how the marketplace works or the different levels of coverage, visit cbs5az.com/healthcare or send your question to my Facebook page at facebook.com/DaveCherryCBS5.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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