The Affordable Care Act and you: Part 5

By WEEK Producer

The Affordable Care Act and you: Part 5

November 11, 2013 Updated Nov 11, 2013 at 10:43 AM CDT

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.

Bill Shock is Executive Vice President of the Unland Companies in Pekin. He said to 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. And 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,” Shock said.

Also offered in the Marketplace is catastrophic coverage. This 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-pays are not important because they don't go to the doctor,” Shock said. “The deductible doesn't frighten them because they don't anticipate that they're going to have a major catastrophic illness. But it is there to cover those costs should they have that."

While you can't go shopping on www.healthcare.gov until October 1, the website offers a lot of information to help you prepare.

As we have reported, some local health departments are offering in-person counseling to help you navigate the process.

Coverage will kick-in on January 1, 2014.