If you’re looking for health insurance, and you’re wondering what the years of endless noise about “Obamacare” means for you, October 1 is worth circling on your calendar. That’s the day you can go to NevadaHealthLink.com and start shopping for coverage on the Silver State Healthcare Exchange. Open enrollment continues through March on the exchange, which Nevada created as part of the Affordable Care Act. Chances are that amid the roiling politics surrounding the act, you haven’t heard much practical advice on how to use the exchange. We turned to Tom Zumtobel, the CEO of Nevada Health Co-Op—one of four carriers on the exchange—for a primer:
1. The exchange is for individuals who don’t already have insurance coverage or those looking for different coverage options. If they’re low-income (but not Medicaid-eligible), they’ll also have access to subsidies that help them afford it. If you have insurance through your current employer, the exchange isn’t for you.
2. There will also be options for small employers, who can send employees to the exchange to choose more individualized coverage—still on the company plan—than they could get in the past.
3. Four insurance carriers qualified to offer their products on the Nevada exchange: Anthem, United Health Care, St. Mary’s Health Plans and the Nevada Health Co-Op, the only nonprofit option.
4. Five levels of coverage are available: platinum, gold, silver, bronze and catastrophic. Different companies’ plans at the same level will vary in co-pay amounts and deductibles, but the ratios of consumer-to-insurance responsibility will be the same. For instance, on all gold plans consumers will pay for 20 percent of their care and insurance companies will pay 80 percent. The standardized levels are designed to make it easier for consumers to compare plans.