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Who Should Be Shopping PAs Health Insurance Marketplace

October 2, 2013-  Tom Joseph
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Heavy volume and some lengthy delays marked Day One - but in the long run, the new health-insurance marketplace may be just what the doctor ordered for more than 1 million adults and children in Pennsylvania.

That's the estimated number of people living in the state who would be eligible for a tax credit to help lower their cost of health insurance. Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, said the marketplace represents a journey toward meeting the health-care needs of individuals and families across the nation.

"When they have coverage, they're healthier, they get the right care at the right time," she said. "They aren't using emergency rooms, have access to preventive care; and also help to reduce health-care costs over the long term."

Ward said the marketplace is designed for those who don't have health insurance through their employers and are not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP.

Pennsylvanians with health insurance need not make any changes to their coverage, Ward said, but may be wise to get to know the marketplace.

"If you currently have health insurance, but you lose it in the future, you may want to pay attention to the exchange," she said, "because it's a place where you'll be able to shop for affordable insurance until you get new coverage from an employer."

If insurance-seekers run up against problems getting what they need from the marketplace in the early going, Ward said, there's no reason to panic.

"There's almost three months that people have to shop and purchase an insurance plan that will go into effect in January," she said, "so there's plenty of time to make sure everyone who wants health insurance can find it."

Pennsylvania opted not to create its own state-based health insurance exchange, so it's using the federal marketplace, at healthcare.gov.

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