In October of this year, health insurance exchanges will open and make coverage options available to people throughout the nation. North Carolina will take part in this expansion, if only because the conservative majority in our state legislature could find no way to prevent it.
So far, we don’t know a lot about the insurance plans that will become available through the exchange, except that only three companies will serve as providers in NC. According to the News & Observer, Blue Cross will offer 26 plans to every county in the state. The other two players, Coventry Health Care and FirstCarolina, will likely operate in major metro areas and six counties to the southwest of Wake County, respectively. All together, the companies will offer 67 plans. We won’t know about costs until the online insurance exchanges open online in October.
Here’s what we do know:
Catastrophic coverage plans will be made available for North Carolinians under age 30 and some below the poverty line. They will cover three primary care visits a year and protect from financial catastrophe if an unexpected health catastrophe hits. All other plans – bronze, silver, gold, and platinum – will cover somewhere between 60 to 90 percent of health care costs.
Other important things we already know: these four metallic plans will provide women with free birth-control options and will cover many preventive health screenings, including tests for various sexually transmitted infections, cervical cancer, and mammograms.
If you lack health insurance, check out HealthCare.gov to learn more about your options. And mark your calendar for October 1st to enroll!