'How LIfe Changing This Will Be for People Who Thought They Would Die Without Health Insurance'

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Susan Mull, a substitute teacher from LancasterSusan Mull of Lancaster County joined health care advocates and providers Monday to preview the opening of the Health Insurance Marketplace — the latest provision of the Affordable Care Act to take effect.

Beginning today, Pennsylvanians who are working but lack health insurance will be able to shop for and compare options for affordable coverage on the new Marketplace. It is designed for those who don’t have health coverage through their employers and are not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP. Those with employer-offered coverage can keep it.

At a Capitol press conference Monday, Susan told her story of living with a pre-existing condition for 13 years without health insurance because her husband is self employed and she works part-time as a substitute teacher. Individual coverage was unaffordable, she said.

“Health care is a human right," Susan said during the press conference. "I cannot say it in any simpler way. … I hope you understand how powerful, how life changing this will be for people who have thought they would die without ever having health insurance again.”

Other advocates and health care providers explained that the new Marketplace will open the door to health coverage for hundreds of thousands of hardworking Pennsylvanians who will be able to see a doctor for the first time in years.

“This is the beginning of a journey toward meeting the health care needs of individuals and families across the nation,” said Sharon Ward, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. “The Marketplace will give Pennsylvanians valuable new options and allow them to decide which coverage best fits their family’s needs.”

Pennsylvania's Marketplace offers 56 different plan options. Participating insurance companies will compete to provide the best product at the best price to consumers seeking health coverage. Tough rules will ensure that every package sold on the Marketplace covers the basics, like annual checkups and preventive medicine.

Tax credits will make premiums even more affordable for low- and moderate-income families. One study found more than half of those who buy in a marketplace will pay less than $100 per person per month. But it is important to know that Pennsylvanians seeking coverage must shop for it on the federally-established Marketplace in order to qualify for tax subsidies. Insurance plans sold on online “marketplaces” or “exchanges” not authorized by the health law may confuse people.

Read more about Monday's press conference and click here to share the image above of Susan with your friends on Facebook.

And if you are one of the hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians seeking health insurance, click here to apply on Pennsylvania's Marketplace. An online form will ask you questions about your income and household size, allow you to compare coverage options and prices, and calculate how much in federal tax subsidies are available to help you pay for the costs. The tax subsidy benefits are applied to immediately lower the premium. If you need assistance, call 1-800-318-2596.

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