SIOUX FALLS, SD -
No matter what happens at midnight regarding a government shutdown, the health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act will still open on Tuesday.
No one is watching more closely than the companies that will offer the plans to South Dakotans. They've been working on the ACA for years, but it's still anyone's guess how the coming weeks will shape up as people go online to look to buy a plan.
The Health Insurance Marketplace is sure to be a busy place on Tuesday as people can finally check out insurance plans available. But the steps to actually selecting a plan can be confusing. Consider, for instance, question number 15 on the Employer Coverage tool.
"How many people do you know, who is an average person, can read this employer coverage tool thing and answer the question? 'For the lowest-cost plan that meets the minimum value standard offered only to the employee (don't include family plans): If the employer has wellness programs, provide the premium that the employee would pay if he/she received the maximum discount for any tobacco cessation programs, and didn't receive any other discounts based on wellness programs.' Who the heck, general public person, how can you fill this out?" President of Sanford Health Plan Ruth Krystopolski said.
Krystopolski says all three companies offering plans in South Dakota have found the entire process confusing.
"I think we're throwing so much at people all at one time. It's my job and I read this stuff and you can interpret it 12 different ways," Krystopolski said.
While people can turn to healthcare.gov or call an 800 number for answers, a more familiar resource is also available.
"The second thing to do in South Dakota is to tell everyone to talk to their agent. Almost everybody has an insurance agent of some way, shape or form because they buy car insurance," Krystopolski said.
Insurance carriers like DAKOTACARE say they're ready. They're just not sure the government is.
"They're still working on it. I'd like to think it will be ready October 1; we'll see," Kirk Zimmer of DAKOTACARE said.
"I think we'll be working kinks out until January 1,” Krystopolski said.
In order to be covered by health insurance January 1, you need to enroll by December 15. We should have a lot more answers after Tuesday on how the system works. You have until March 31 to open enroll.
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