State health insurance marketplaces, including Missouri's, open for enrollment 11 days from today on Oct. 1.
According to an analysis released Thursday by Families USA, 525,000 Missourians will be eligible to receive financial assistance for health insurance through the state's marketplace, also known as an exchange.
"Many consumers who go to that new state marketplace once the doors open Oct. 1 will find out that they're eligible for significant, robust financial assistance with the purchase of the plan of their choice in the marketplace," said Kathleen Stoll, director of health policy for Families USA. "Oct. 1 is a giant leap forward, making quality health coverage affordable for people in Missouri and across the country."
The financial assistance and health insurance will take effect Jan. 1, 2014.
Stoll said Families USA, based in Washington, D.C., is a "nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that brings the voice of consumers to health care issues and debates as they unfold at the federal and state levels."
The organization champions quality, affordable health insurance coverage for Americans.
But, Stoll said there are Americans who still don't understand the implications of the Affordable Care Act, a law signed in 2010 that includes comprehensive health reform to make preventive care more accessible and affordable for Americans.
"There are a lot of hardworking families across the country and in Missouri, and I know that those folks across the country are confused or they're even turned off by the ongoing Affordable Care Act political debate that continues," Stoll said. "We have people that we've talked to who don't even realize it is the law of the land, because the political debate has been so heated."
Stoll said consumers need to know that starting Oct. 1, anyone can go to the new marketplace and check out a wide range of health insurance plans that will be available.
"Folks will be able to see the prices and easily compare the terms of those different plans in a consistent format, in an understandable plain language and with real life examples of how the coverage works," Stoll said.
Sharon Foote, chief operating officer of Myrtle Hilliard Davis Comprehensive Health Centers in St. Louis, said there are organizations with "boots on the ground" in Missouri.
"(They're) rallying around and getting staff in place to have people out in the community, knocking on doors, providing all the assistance that we possibly can, and giving as much education and awareness information as we can," Foote said.
According to Families USA, on Oct. 1, Missourians can apply for financial assistance, compare health plan options and enroll in the plan of their choice through the state's health insurance marketplace. You can visit healthcare.gov or call 800-318-2596 to learn more about the marketplace and to create a marketplace account.
The Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Missouri's Community Health Centers and Primaris Healthcare Business Solutions have also received federal grants to provide in-person assistance to help Missourians enroll in health coverage.
Related video series:
KTVI-TV, St. Louis, recently aired this Health Care Primer on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), linked below.