Insuring Your Health columnist Michelle Andrews helps you navigate the new insurance marketplaces that are scheduled to launch on Oct. 1.
Q: If I don’t currently have coverage and I’m required to obtain it because of the individual mandate, how can an exchange help me?
A: Through the marketplace, you can easily compare health plans in your area. But probably the biggest advantage to using the state marketplace is that through it you can find out if you’re eligible for subsidies that will help make any health plan you buy on the exchange more affordable. Subsidies will be available to people with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $46,000 for an individual. In addition, if you’re low income you can also learn if you or your family members are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program through the marketplace. If it turns out that you can’t find a plan that costs less that 8 percent of your income, the marketplace is where you can apply for an exemption from the individual mandate.