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Local News

September 30, 2013

Area readies for Affordable Care Act

Like it or not, New York’s new health insurance marketplace is ready to open for business Tuesday.

The program, dubbed the New York State of Health, is the state’s version of the health exchange mandated by the  Patient Protection and Affordable Health Act, known to many as Obamacare. The goal of the controversial legislation is to ensure that everyone in the nation is covered by health insurance by offering an array of choices from exchanges opening in each state. 

Beginning Tuesday, consumers will be able to calculate costs and enroll in coverage online, in person, over the telephone or by mail.

According to U.S. Census data, about one in every six New Yorkers younger than 65 lacks health coverage. The New York State of Health will offer a menu of plans to them, as well as to people who buy their own coverage, and those who want to switch from an employer’s insurance plan.

In New York, the operative words being used to promote the tiered levels of coverage being offered by the state exchange are their “low cost.” The adjective is used in the opening slide of the program’s website. In case you miss it, “low cost” is mentioned again in the brief blurbs that go with both the second slide and the final third slide. 

Whether the plans will actually be affordable to consumers with modest incomes is a matter of concern to several people interviewed by The Daily Star, including some who have resisted getting health insurance but have no choice now but to obtain it.

What is certain is that some plans will be more expensive than others. The insurers participating in the exchange will offer four tiers of coverage. The ones with the lowest monthly premiums will have the highest out-of-pocket costs when medical services or prescription medications are obtained. The tiers will be known as bronze, silver, gold and platinum, with the cost being based on deductibles, co-payments and the costs to the consumer.

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