Insurance changes on horizon

My hairdressers were talking about it, asking questions of each other.  I overheard several other people talking about it this week. “It” is the new optional health insurance online site, Marketplace. My hairdressers are among those people who have been working without health insurance, and who will now become insured.
Employers have until Oct. 1 to notify all active employees about this new state Health Benefit Exchange plan, which is part of the Affordable Care Act that has been phasing in changes in health care in this country. It provides people with a market in which to shop for health insurance —people who may only work part-time, who are seasonally employed, who do not qualify for employer-sponsored coverage or who can’t afford the health insurance their employer offers. The Marketplace is an on-line site showing employees new, lower-cost alternatives.
A major  benefit of this phase of the Affordable Care Act, effective in 2014, is that– finally– no health insurance plan can turn you away or charge you more because you have  medical illness, even a health insurance plan you already have . Bravo! Last year, I interviewed teachers and School-Related Professionals from around the state about the Affordable Care Act for NYSUT United magazine, and nearly all of them expressed deep relief at not having to worry about a prior medical condition that could prevent themselves or their children from getting coverage. They also appreciated being able to keep their children on their insurance until age 26. Their compelling stories won a first-place award for feature writing from the Metro Labor Communications Council in New York City, revealing the level of concern adequate health insurance plays in many people’s lives.
Most full-time NYSUT members already have sufficient employer-provided health insurance coverage which meets the federal standards for affordability and minimum value. If so, no action is required. You will still reap the benefits of the ACA, such as not having to worry about a prior condition.

People who are on Family Health Plus and Healthy NY will need to transition to one of the new plans that can be viewed at Marketplace; the Child Health Plus program will continue.
“The Marketplace will offer options for more New Yorkers to elect comprehensive affordable health insurance and reduce the uninsured population in our state,” says Kathleen Donahue, NYSUT vice president.
Contact your employer with any questions. If you are a NYSUT member and have questions about your health insurance coverage negotiated for you by your local union, contact your local president or your NYSUT regional labor relations specialist.
You can also call 800-318-2596, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).

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