Health Insurance Marketplace opens today

picture disc.

Geri Schmid

Today marks the first day that people without health insurance can begin enrolling for individual health insurance available through the Affordable Care Act.

Four companies are providing coverage in Nebraska through the Health Insurance Marketplace — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, CoOportunity Health, Coventry Health and Midwest Health Alliance.

The cost and coverage provided will differ by company, but all will provide free preventive care. The four levels available are based on percentage of medical expenses that will be covered: Bronze (60 percent); Silver (70 percent); Gold (80 percent); and Platinum (90 percent). Uninsured persons may be eligible for subsidies based on their income level.

To help people in the enrollment process, full-time, paid navigators will be available who have undergone extensive training on enrollment in the marketplace (also known as an insurance exchange). In the Omaha area, the Eastern Nebraska Community Action Partnership will be the lead organization.

In addition, certified application counselors (CACs) also will be able to provide assistance. The CACs are not paid, but they will typically be individuals who deal with health insurance in their jobs and will have a good understanding of the Health Insurance Marketplace coverages.

“UNMC Physicians and The Nebraska Medical Center have come together to formulate a plan to address patient questions and concerns regarding the health care marketplace,” said Geri Schmid, director of reimbursement at UNMC Physicians.

Forty-seven medical center employees will serve as CACs.

“Many of these employees are patient financial counselors at both UNMC Physicians and The Nebraska Medical Center,” Schmid said. “These counselors have historically been the first point of contact for patients with financial questions, so it makes sense for them to be the experts on the Health Insurance Marketplace.”

If patients ask questions about the Health Insurance Marketplace that clinical staff cannot answer, the patients should be referred to the typical financial counselor for their area, Schmid said.

In addition to these financial counselors, Schmid said, people can call customer service at either UNMC Physicians, 559-9800, or The Nebraska Medical Center, 559-3140.

For more information on the marketplace, here’s a list of 10 things people should know.