Mo. Hospital Association Offers Guide for Health Insurance Exchange

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- We're within about three months of the opening of enrollment in Missouri's health insurance exchange program, but studies show many eligible Missourians don't know what to expect.

The federal government is going to operate the Missouri exchange because the legislature refused to set it up. Enrollment starts October 1. The coverage begins January 1, 2014.

Past experience with enrollment in public insurance programs in Missouri indicates enrollees need to know about what they're going to face in the process.

The Missouri Hospital Association has put a guide to enrollment on a web page, telling readers they'll have a lot of options and need to do some homework. 

Association spokesman Dave Dillon says the guide will not show readers the choices they will have. But it can give them important background information that will be useful when enrollment begins in a little more than 100 days.

"That information is simply not available. But you can find out whether you'll be eligible and try to understand how the federal government is planning on setting up this system, on what levels of care and why types of policies might be available. Those broad-type of investigations are currently doable. We're hoping this website will help consumers, whether they be individuals or businesses."

The guide has been set up after researchers identified problems with public understanding of what exchanges are, what they will do, and how much they cost.  The exchange is open to people whose income is less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

That means a one-person household can be eligible if the individual's income is less than $45,960.  A two-person family could earn $62,040. A three-person family could have an income of $78,120 and a four-person family would be eligible with a family income of $94,200 or less.

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