What is a Healthcare Exchange

Couple looking at computer and papers with baby on lap

Having health insurance is one of the main drivers of my decision to work outside the home. I have three children, which comes along with the fear of what would happen if my kids were seriously sick or injured and I couldn’t afford medical care. In the coming months, anxiety surrounding health insurance will be eased for many families thanks to the availability of the health insurance marketplace.

Putting aside all the political commentary and speculation about the Affordable Care Act, I researched what is offered through Kentucky’s Healthcare Connection (www.kynect.ky.gov) and the federally provided Health Insurance Marketplace (www.healthcare.gov). Here is what I discovered.

What’s the difference between Kynect and the federal Health Insurance Marketplace?
Essentially these are the same. The marketplace is what the federal government is calling its health insurance options, while individual states can establish their own marketplaces with their own names. Kentucky has chosen the name Kynect (Kentucky’s Healthcare Connection).

Which place do I go to compare plans, research coverage and purchase my health insurance?
It depends on where you live. If you live in Indiana you will use the federal Health Insurance Marketplace at www.healthcare.gov. If you live in Kentucky, you will use Kynect located at www.kynect.ky.gov.

Who qualifies to purchase health insurance?
Anyone can purchase health coverage through the federal or state-sponsored plan. Depending on your income, you may qualify for discounts or expanded Medicaid coverage. Most likely you will be in one of these three categories:

  • You are unemployed and need health coverage.
  • You are self-employed with no employees and need affordable coverage.
  • You are employed and want more affordable insurance than what your employer offers.

How do I apply?
Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, you can apply online at one of the two sites, by mail or by phone with the help of a navigator.

How much does it cost?
To answer this question you need to compare the plans and determine your coverage needs. Exact costs will not be announced until Oct. 1, 2013. In the meantime, you can get a rough estimate based on national averages from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s health insurance costs and savings calculator. The Kaiser Family Foundation is an independent, nonprofit research group not associated with any health care providers.

The specific health plans, costs and benefits will not be announced until Oct. 1, when open enrollment begins for the health marketplace. As we near this date, you will begin to see much more information in the news and on websites about ways to register.

Avoid Health Exchange Fraud

There is a risk of fraud, so the federal government recommends you:

  • Be informed about your health care choices
  • Protect your private health and financial information
  • Ask questions and verify the answers you get
  • Report suspected fraud to the Federal Trade Commission’s online complaint assistant and local police if:
    • Someone you don’t know contacts you about getting health insurance and asks you to pay, or asks you for your personal financial or health information
    • Someone contacts you and claims to be from the government or Medicare and asks you to pay for a new “Obamacare” insurance card
    • Someone calls you and says they’re from the government and asks for your bank account information or Social Security number

Because there is so much information surrounding this topic, we will write a few more blogs and post them here to help you make an informed decision about your health insurance. We also recommend these dependable resources:
•    Federal Health Insurance Marketplace (www.healthcare.gov)
•    Kynect – Kentucky’s Healthcare Connection (www.kynect.ky.gov)
•    Kaiser Family Foundation (www.kff.org)