That’s when the Marketplace insurance exchange, two new websites authorized by the Affordable Care Act, opens for business, offering products for individuals and small groups.
It’s expected that hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents — many of them previously uninsured — will use the Health Insurance Marketplace and the Small Group Health Options Program to obtain coverage.
This week, we were pleased to learn that the state recommended that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network be certified as Qualified Health Plans. This is an important step, the first of two regulatory hurdles insurers must clear before being approved to sell products on the Marketplace.
The approval by the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services sends our application to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which must give final approval.
For consumers, choosing among Qualified Health Plans means being able to choose among products that cover essential health benefits like hospitalization, maternity care and prescription drugs; fully cover preventive care and other services; and limit cost-sharing for members.
Plans will also be grouped by so-called metal levels — bronze, silver, gold and platinum — that correspond with levels of covered benefits.
We’re delighted with the state’s action and have worked hard to achieve this milestone. But much work remains, and we expect to work closely with HHS on our application.
We’ll be writing much more about the Marketplace and health care reform in general in the coming months. In the meantime, you can learn more about how reform affects you on aHealthierMichigan.org, at our health care reform site or on our new site, HealthCareReformBasics.com.
Kirk Roy is vice president of the Office of National Health Reform for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.