For years, we have been watching the Exchange idea start from an idea, to proposed legislation, to a passed bill (that wasn't studied by very many people), to a working project, to what it is now. And that is...a near-finished project that will offer insurance to individuals, families, the self-employed and business owners. Notice, that I did NOT include the word "affordable" in that description.
But a funny thing happened a few months ago. Unexpectedly and without warning, healthcare.gov started to eliminate references to Exchanges and began to insert the term Marketplace in instead. Of course, this is not a devious act and probably wasn't spotted by folks that aren't in this field. But clearly, there was a shift.
|Here Come The Exchanges (Marketplaces?)|
Why did this occur? Probably because the second term gives the impression that you are buying Pennsylvania health insurance plans (or any state) in a competitive environment where you shop for bargains, find quite a few and then pick your favorite. The first term just didn't seem to resonate with consumers. It almost sounded like you were exchanging one product you were not happy with, for another product you were unsure about.
OK...So now they are called Marketplaces. What exactly are they and how does the process of buying health insurance change? You still should use experienced brokers and preferably reputable websites that update content and explain current topics such as different "Medal" plans and the federal tax subsidy. But whether you call it an "Exchange" or "Marketplace," one thing doesn't change. And that is you no longer have to answer medical questions when applying for coverage.
"Guarantee Issue" is now the name of the game (starting in 2014). No long applications...Oh...wait. They still are long since your federal tax subsidy has to be calculated. Rates? If you qualify for the subsidy, you're in pretty good shape. If you are unfortunate enough to make more than $95,000 (Total household income) or close to that amount, you may not be very pleased with the "Affordable" Care Act, since it doesn't seem to make new plans very affordable.
Although "navigators" may become available to help consumers, they will be mostly inexperienced compared to licensed brokers that have been writing business for decades. Since there are tax subsidy and suitability issues, along with determining if in or out of the Exchange is appropriate, utilizing respected websites and broker/agents will be critical.
|Brokers Save Consumers Money|
"Navigators" will play a role in reaching consumers that do not have access to the internet or simply choose to attempt to work through an intricate process without the best available help. And yes, there will be plenty of consumers that take that route.
So...Exchanges. Marketplaces. Does it really make a difference what we call it? Not really. But it does make a difference who helps you and which website you visit to learn about your options.