The Affordable Care Act and you: part 5

By WEEK Producer

September 18, 2013 Updated Sep 19, 2013 at 9:53 AM CDT

PEKIN, Ill. -- In 13 days, uninsured Americans, or those with coverage they feel is too expensive, can start shopping for a new plan through the government exchange. 

This is a key part of the new Affordable Care Act.
Welcome to the Health Insurance Marketplace. If you are in need of coverage this is where you will go to check prices and plans, beginning on October 1.
Bill Shock is the Executive Vice President of the Unland Companies in Pekin. He said people should think of the marketplace like Amazon.
"A place where someone could go in the digital world, compare coverage, compare costs and make a purchase,” Shock said.
There are four options in the Marketplace; platinum, gold, silver and bronze. All four offer the same quality of coverage and amount of care.
The difference is in the cost. Platinum will have the highest premium and lowest out-of-pocket costs, bronze has the lowest premium but highest out-of-pocket.
“There are some critical points of comparison, deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, those types of things,” Shock said. “In the digital world, many of these companies are able to create all that supporting documentation that people need to review much more easily than printing it."
Also offered in the Marketplace is catastrophic coverage. That is aimed at people who are under the age of 30, or have low incomes, and offers protection in worst case scenarios.
"Because the co-pay’s not important, because they don't go to the doctor, the deductible doesn't frighten them because they don't anticipate that they're going to have a major catastrophic illness. However, it is there to cover those costs should they have that,” Shock said.
While you cannot go shopping on until October 1, the website offers a lot of information to help you prepare.
Some local health departments are also offering in-person counseling to help you navigate the process.
Coverage will kick-in on January 1, 2013.

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