People without health insurance in Michigan will soon get their first opportunity to check out the plans available to them under the federal Affordable Care Act.
The information will be available online beginning October 1 through a health insurance marketplace.
In Michigan, 14 companies will be offering plans. It is unknown yet what the plans will cost because specific plan information will not be available until October.
Open enrollment begins October 1 and runs through March 31 2014, however, people have to sign up by December 15 for the coverage to begin at the start of 2014.
Congressman Sander Levin, (D) 9th District is working to help notify residents of Michigan that the new plans will be available to them.
"Everybody needs to understand the availability of this insurance to make it work for themselves and make it work for everybody," said Levin. "People need to access this information to understand that there is now going to be increasingly a requirement that people be insured so you don't have essentially free riders."
The Michigan Consumers for Healthcare has been designated by the federal government as a navigator in Michigan which means they will oversee awareness campaigns to teach the public about the health insurance marketplace and connect people with free assistance to sign up if necessary.
Individuals and small businesses can check out the marketplace to see what is available including tax credits.
"The way the exchanges are set up is to make it more convenient for people to really compare one plan to another apples to apples comparison on plans," said Don Hazaert, the executive director for the Michigan Consumers for Healthcare.
The plans will be put into four categories based on how a person and the plan can expect to share the costs for the health care. They will be broken down into the following categories:
The plans are supposed to offer the same essential benefits including doctor's visits, prescription drugs, and hospital stays.
People can apply for a plan on their own online, but there will be help available.
Hazaert said his agency will be working with several nonprofits including hospitals to help educate and assist the public with these new plans.
People can also find out if they an get lower costs on monthly premiums or if they're eligible for lower or free coverage.
Plans from the following companies will be listed on the marketplace website for people to compare and price:
Alliance Health and Life Insurance Company
Blue Care Network of Michigan
The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Consumers Mutual Insurance of Michigan
Health Alliance Plan
Humana Medical Plan of Michigan, Inc.
McLaren Health Plan
Meridian Health Plan of Michigan, Inc.
Molina Healthcare of Michigan
Physicians Health Plan
Priority Health Insurance Company
Total Health Care USA
United Healthcare Life Insurance Company
For more information on the plans and how to sign up visit healthcare.gov.
People can also call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596.