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Affordable Care Act: What to know about the marketplace - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Affordable Care Act: What to know about the marketplace

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SHREVEPORT, La. -

Whether you agree or disagree with it, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.

So where do you shop for coverage? And who's even eligible? The marketplace at healthcare.gov is where to begin.

"They'll be able to look at all the different options and it's going to be different metallic level plans," explains Kimberly Hutchings, with Kent, Kent & Tingle Insurance in Shreveport.

Those levels are bronze, silver, gold or platinum.

The bronze plan, for instance, will offer a lower monthly premium, but you'll have to pay more out-of-pocket when you go to the doctor.

"Your bronze plan is gonna be the most basic plan and the silver is going to be the one that most people will be getting."

Hutchings says the silver plan is what the federal subsidies will be based on. Those subsidies are tax credits the government is offering to help people pay for coverage, based on income.

"We'll submit a customer's information to the exchange and they'll be deemed eligible to see if they can get a subsidy."

For expample, a family of four with an annual income of $50,000 will pay $15 per month, on average, for the lowest bronze plan, or $282 a month for one of the silver plans, after the subsidy.

If you already have Medicare, Medicaid or insurance through your employer, the marketplace isn't for you.

No matter where you live, there should be no higher premiums if you get sick, and no denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions.

You also shouldn't have to pay any fees for preventative care, like vaccinations, mammograms, or routine physicals.

However, what you pay for each plan will vary depend on factors like where you live, your age, and whether or not you smoke.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has an online calculator that provides ZIP code-specific estimates of the insurance premiums and tax subsidies available for people who buy coverage through the marketplace.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana is offering health plans in every parish, but you'll have to choose by December 14th, 2013 if you want your new health coverage to start January 1st, 2014.

Vantage Health Plan will offer plans on the marketplace in many Louisiana parishes.

Humana will offer insurance on the marketplace only in Jefferson Parish.

According to the Associated Press, beginning in 2014, most people will have to have health insurance or pay an annual penalty to the federal government.

The fine for the first year is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child (up to $285 per family), or 1 percent of your income, whatever is higher.

The fines grow larger in later years.

Thousands of Louisiana residents below the poverty line don't qualify for subsidies to buy coverage because they were expected to get Medicaid though an expansion of the free health care program for the poor.

Gov. Bobby Jindal refused the Medicaid expansion, so those residents are expected to remain uninsured.

They don't face penalties for not having insurance.

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