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To Sign Up for Health Care or Not?

PHOTO: Open enrollment for the Affordable Care health exchange starts October first. Photo courtesy of HHS

PHOTO: Open enrollment for the Affordable Care health exchange starts October first. Photo courtesy of HHS


September 27, 2013

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Whether Missourians like it or not, the Missouri Health Exchange will open for business on Tuesday, Oct. 1. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has been telling them to skip signing up for coverage. However, others wonder why anyone would not shop for a good deal on health insurance.

Health and Human Services Region VII Director Stephene Moore said the costs of premiums nationwide are coming in about 16 percent lower than predicted. She compared shopping on the new health exchange to shopping around for a good price on an airline ticket.

"For some people, it's okay to have a non-stop flight, but for others who want to save some money, they might be willing to go through Denver and have a little layover. It's the same thing with the health insurance. They'll be able to look at the plans and see which one works best for them," Moore said.

According to HHS numbers, a St. Louis family of four making $50,000 a year, because they qualify for a federal subsidy, could purchase the lowest level of coverage for $32 a month. Moore said no matter what you buy, all plans are required to cover the same essential services for children and adults. Those include visits to the doctor, the hospital, emergency care, maternity, mental health, substance abuse treatment, pediatric services, medications and prevention. Missourians will have 17 different plans to choose from. The website for Missourians is www.Healthcare.gov.

"Every plan that's offered in their zip code will pop up, and they'll be able to look at the cost, what the coverage will be and see which one of those plans might work best for them," she said.

Moore pointed out that there is a lot of time to figure it all out.

"Nobody has to rush out on Oct. 1 and get on that website and look at it. They can look at it any time between October the first and through early next spring and the end of March," she noted.

A single person making up to around $45,000 a year qualifies for federal help paying for monthly premiums. So does a family of four making up to $90,000 annually. To get that help, Missourians must sign up through the exchange. Anyone who has coverage through work does not have to do anything.

Information about health insurance marketplace premium costs is available at http://aspe.hhs.gov.

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - MO