Early enrollment in Michigan’s health insurance marketplace started Tuesday.
The marketplace is part of the controversial 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” The act has become central issue of the current budget battle in Congress, which has caused the federal government to temporarily shut down or otherwise inhibit operations for many of its departments.
The marketplace system is intended to help those who do not qualify for Medicaid. Michigan’s marketplace is operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, although that could change in the future.
Insurance plans are purchased online through healthcare.gov. The cost of health insurance premiums offered through the marketplace will vary based on factors such as income, family size, age and tobacco use, among others. Those looking to buy insurance through the marketplace cannot be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
Health care coverage will not begin until next year, but enrollment must be completed by Dec. 15 for the policies to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
Tax credits will be offered to help reduce the cost of buying insurance from the marketplace, but only people who aren’t eligible for Medicaid, lack an employer-sponsored insurance option and have an income of less than four times the federal poverty level will be eligible for them.
Many students at Eastern Michigan University will be unaffected by this particular program either because they are under the age of 26 and can therefore remain on their parents’ health plan, or because they now qualify for the newly expanded Medicaid.
Almost everyone is required to purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Those who do not purchase insurance will face tax penalties based off of their income and other factors.
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