By Holly Glen Gearhart, Contributing Writer
As of October 1, Washingtonians will begin signing up for medical coverage through the Washington’s health care exchange, part of the Affordable Health Care Act. The enrollment period runs from Oct. 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014, and coverage begins Jan.1, 2014.
We know a few things about this new system but caution our readers that, as with anything this new and this big, as the system unfolds there could be changes.
Last week we looked at calling in to the statewide toll-free number set up to consult and explain the plans available to consumers.
This week’s article looks at the eight plans and nine different levels of coverage available in Snohomish County, Region Two in the state.
Our region has eight provider systems and each provider has three levels of coverage; Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each level provides different services at different costs depending on your age, income and desired level of services, as well as willingness to pay higher deductibles and copays.
The cost for the coverage depends on your age, income and number of family members you wish to include, and determines what percentage of the tab the government picks up.
There is a calculator to help you to decide your monthly charges for a Silver plan. Go to http://www.wahbexchange.org/index.php?cID=472 and type in your age, income and number of family members you wish to cover. The calculator is programmed to deduct the percentage the government will pick up and totals your cost.
Below is a sampling of coverage and costs for an individual;
AGE INCOME MONTHLY COST
24 21K $96.00
45 21K $96.00
60 21K $96.00
24 31K $223.00
45 31K $223.00
60 31K $223.00
24 45K $231.00
45 45K $333.00
60 45K $356.00
According to the calculator, at ages of 24, 45 and 60 years old, if your income is $16,000 and above you pay for coverage beginning at $45 on the Silver plan. If your income is $15,000 or below, you pay nothing because you will access the Washington Extended Medicaid Program.
This is not so different than enrolling in the medical plan where you work. Previously, some employers paid 100 percent of the cost and some did not. Check with your employer about medical coverage.
If you have paid into your employer’s medical plan in the past, depending on what your job has available, you might decide to buy medical coverage on your own. As the health plans roll out for employers you might choose to decide to join their plan or decide to choose how much you want to pay out of your own pocket.
Since last week’s article ran, printed material has become available to receive in the mail. Call the toll-free number and discuss your choices with someone trained to walk you through the plans. Operators are standing by Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., available in up to 175 languages, at 1-855-WAFINDER (1-855-923-4633). Consumers can also email firstname.lastname@example.org; find them on Facebook at Washington Healthplanfinder or visit www.wahealthplanfinder.org.
If you need TTY access call RELAY and tell the operator to connect you to WA Health Plans.